It’s only been a couple of years since Cazzu stepped into the global limelight, and the fiery singer/rapper is already making industry-shifting waves. Bringing international appeal to the booming Argentinian trap sound, the 27-year-old artist has established herself as a prominent force within the ever-expanding movement. She is constantly evolving, introducing new and surprising elements that twist and turn at every corner.
Although she wasn’t brought up freestyling in the streets of Buenos Aires, her distinctive path is what positioned the femme fatale trapera as the appointed queen of the scene. Hailing from Jujuy, a northwestern province of Argentina, Julieta Emilia Cazzuchelli grew up in a vibrant musical milieu, where cumbia, Andian music of the Altiplano, and música payada collided. “Since I was very young, I discovered that art, but especially music, was something that moved me tremendously,” recalls Cazzu. “I spent many years of failure, asking myself, ‘Well, what other meaning am I going to find in life if I can’t make music?’ because, for me, my life had only one meaning, one option.”
Her tireless ambition and creative drive served her well. Having already explored the depths of the folklore of her native country, Cazzu began to immerse herself in the bubbling hip-hop underground of Buenos Aires. This informal education, combined with her uncanny approach to trap and reggaeton, eerie atmospherics, and an alluring lyrical flow, were the building blocks for her 2019 debut Error 93. This bewitching juxtaposition drew the attention of local trap stars like Duki and Paulo Londra while expanding her reach internationally, attracting powerhouses with whom she’s now collaborated, including Bad Bunny and Sech.
Cazzu followed up with Una Niña Inútil (2020) and a slew of singles, including her latest menacing Urbano cut “Sobre Mi Tumba” — which earned her a Netflix placement in the series El Reino — thus underscoring her place as Argentina’s leading lady of trap. She, however, has never limited her scope to a singular style, and that eclectic mélange is precisely what has made Cazzu a creative force to be reckoned with.
This interview was originally conducted in Spanish. It was also edited for length and clarity:
We are slowly returning to normalcy after a near two-year global pandemic. During that time, you released an album, Una Niña Inútil, and a lot of hard-hitting singles. Did you notice any personal creative shifts while in quarantine?
Yes, I believe [my] creativity is constantly changing. We are always exposed to different types of stimuli — whether we travel or not. Being alone with my mind has been a kind of encounter. [I’ve been] at home thinking about my art, my music, how I make it, my methods, and what I lack. Suddenly, there is a lot more time to self-review, and we can decide to improve, examine, and explore. Although quarantine is taking longer than we expected, in the beginning, it was a very rich time to review where we were heading. Maybe [before] we didn’t need that time, or we just didn’t have it.
Argentinian Trap has exploded in the last few years. How has your life and career changed since you and the scene went global?
It changed a lot. The truth is that it was a very long road, at least personally. It took many years looking for the right time and the right place until one day [the opportunity] presented itself in the most surprising way. [The scene] is the work of many people — with each grain of sand representing [artists] who did not have the possibility of booming but who have contributed significantly to the genre in Argentina.
Those of us who have been there and represent the genre also come with an eclectic background that we’ve gained and learned from. To be able to make a living from a genre that we didn’t think could generate money, that didn’t seem to be something people wanted to listen to, is very magical and very perfect. It’s like, “Wow.”
You narrated Amazon Music’s Género 101: Trap Argentino, which beautifully highlights this evolution while showcasing Argentina’s rich musical history. Viewers get a glimpse of the gauchos, who were considered the first freestylers to the vibrant hip-hop scene. How did those histories impact you?
I come from an area in the north of Argentina [called Ledesma], where folklore is very important and present in our lives. It’s an area where all that is still very much alive. I grew up in a very folkloric environment, and I know the roots of my country very well. It’s something that’s been part of my artistic personality. I was also a part of Argentine cumbia for a long time, which allowed me to get to know it very well.
But I made [other] choices, and among them was hip-hop. When I started out, the genre was still underground. I arrived alone in Buenos Aires, I didn’t know anyone. After studying and going to my classes, I took some time to look for events on Google, and I followed all the rappers, whether it was freestyle or some rapper singing.
I went to a lot of places, trying to get to know the stage, to see them live after seeing them in videos. Over time, when I started making music and things began to happen, the rappers from Argentina’s hip-hop scene were the first people to embrace my project. It was the first space that I felt a part of; even though I didn’t do hip-hop 100% — I did a little bit of reggaeton and trap. It was kind of them to take me in.
Given your eclectic musical background, and as a prominent figure of the Argentinian trap movement, how was it narrating this episode?
When they chose me as the representative of Género 101 [episode 2], it was like, “Wow, what an honor.” But at the same time, my story is a very different one from the rest of my colleagues because I come from a much more distant place [than Buenos Aires]. My story, you could say, is that I am older than many of them, and I have a career that has gone through various genres.
There are many of us who represent trap [purely], and I have my roots in a very different place from the rest. We had to tell their story a bit while we told mine. It was a big challenge to tell it all at the same time, not to make it 100% personal, but I think it turned out really cool.
Did you see any direct links between Argentine folklore and hip-hop freestyle before?
Absolutely. It’s interesting that in the world, things happen at the same time in different places. In the north where I grew up, we have music called copla. Although there were the gauchos payadores who improvised on guitar, we also had more Andean cultural influence from the Altiplano who improvised with a caja [or drum], which was played by more women than men.
A very beautiful thing occurred in Argentina, where [modern rap] freestylers battled with payadores or gauchos. The Internet has tons of battles like that. One day, you have to see it, payadores vs. rapper, because there you have that culture clash of the same activity but stemming from different places.