Three years after releasing their sophomore album Ubuntu, one of Billboard’s picks for the best Latin albums of 2018, Piso 21 went through many changes, including the departure of founding member Llane and the new addition of artist and composer Lorduy.
In the process, they also discovered their new sound — which today is imprinted on their third studio album El amor en los tiempos del perreo, a title that tributes Colombia’s timeless novel El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera) by Gabriel García Márquez.
“This album started two years ago in between tours and ended in a pandemic with each of us composing through Zoom,” says Pablo “Pablito” Mejia Bermudez, calling it a “fine selection of songs.”
The album, out Thursday (March 18) via Warner Music Mexico, is home to 15 tracks — including the previously-released “Más de la una” with Maluma, “Mami” with Black Eyed Peas, “Una vida pa’ recordar” with Myke Towers, “Dulcecitos” with Zion y Lennox, “Querida” with Feid, and “Pa’ Olvidarme de Ella” with Christian Nodal.
On this set, the Colombian group, composed by Pablo Mejía (Pablito), Juan David Huertas (El Profe), David Escobar (Dim), and David Lorduy Hernández (Lorduy), did not hold back from marrying their distinguished sound with new rhythms.
“We’ve been in the industry for 14 years, we see how songs from before and now are made and we always try to make a mix,” Dim tells Billboard. “We add basses, real percussion, acoustic guitars because we know that this is the sound of Piso 21, real music. I believe that this isn’t so valued nowadays — but we continue to bet on [live instruments] because it’s always been our essence.”
“Piso 21 has a way with lyrics without the need to offend our fans or using violent words,” adds El Profe.
Among the set of songs — where the group flirts with bossa nova, ranchera, old-school perreo, and tropical beats — is the focus track “Tan Bonita,” which perfectly sums up the message that Piso 21 wants to convey.
“So many people follow us — so many young women who might have low self-esteem and daily conflicts — and Piso 21 is here to generate valuable content and remind them that they are beautiful,” El Profe notes.
The music video, directed by 36 Grados’ My Old_Skin, is simple but powerful, showcasing women of all ages, races, and sizes. “We did the casting on Instagram,” says Dim. “So many different women went to the filming. This video is much more than visual effects. It comes from the heart.”
Like “Tan Bonita,” most of the songs on El amor en los tiempos del perreo were born during the quarantine, in Dim’s home studio in Medellin. There, he even discovered his love for music production, producing four tracks on the album: “Déjalo” (co-produced with Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres), “Dame luz” (co-produced with Aeme & Darkan and Fainal), “No está mal,” and the album’s intro.
He calls Piso 21 his most-prized possession, and says the only challenge they face as a group is to tell each other things upfront. “We respect each other, we love each other, and we value each other,” he notes.
“It’s a plus being a group because we have a life project with three friends,” adds El Profe. “We’re not working, we’re living an adventure. Yes, like every family, we have arguments, but I can’t imagine Piso 21 with other people.”
“The best part is that all of us are aiming for the same goals in the same direction,” says Lorduy, who’s been in the group since 2018.
“Everything is part of our evolution and Lorduy’s entry was crucial for that sound that we bring today,” Dim expresses. “Llane’s exit was an opportunity for us to realize what we were missing as a group and where we wanted to go.”
Lorduy, who had a solo career for nine years before joining Piso, admits he faced many insecurities upon joining the group because of their solid career and faithful fanbase. In the end, he jumped on board because “opportunities this big are not seen every day.”
Now, 14-years into their journey and with a suitcase full of new music, Piso 21 feels confident of their musical proposal. “On the album, you’ll find a new Piso 21 with different sounds, flows, and structures,” notes Lorduy. “Pablo is more involved in the chorus, Dim harmonizes more, El Profe contributes more with his flow and lyrics, and I believe we are the perfect combination.”
As for essential tracks on the album, each member recommends their favorites. “Dejalo,” says Dim, because it brings to the forefront Colombiana newcomer Mabiland. “A Muerte” and “Tan Bonita,” suggests El Profe, because of the special lyrical content, and Lorduy picks the closing track “No Se Quito,” featuring Lalo Ebratt, De La Ghetto, and DalePlay, because it’s where he truly shines as a reggaetón artist.
Pablito, on the other hand, chooses the title track — because as he summarizes: “‘El amor en el los tiempos del perreo’ defines us as a group, defines the album, defines our musical evolution, and it defines this precise moment in Piso 21’s career.”