The Argentine rapper Paulo Londra has always known how to build momentum for himself. As a precocious teenager, he’d take his steady, melodic flow to the plazas of Córdoba, where he grew up, and knock out challengers during the kind of freestyle battles that were known as a breeding ground for talent across the country. “I always said, ‘There’s such an impressive level of improvisation and artistry here,’” Londra, 24, says over a Zoom call. He’s boyish and easygoing, with tousled hair, and he champions the music scene in Argentina every chance he gets.
He quickly became one of that scene’s biggest stars: He recorded his breakthrough track “Relax” on the fly in 2017, and soon, he was regularly dropping smash hits. In 2018, he released “Adan y Eva,” which topped the charts in Argentina; the following year, “Chica Paranormal” racked up several million streams on Spotify, and “Cuando Te Besé,” a collaboration with Becky G, made him the most viewed Argentine artist on YouTube. He was a force, flying to the top of the industry.
What’s been harder for Londra is having to stop. The rising star’s career came to a grinding halt when a contract dispute erupted between him and his former label, Big Ligas, in 2020. Londra and Big Ligas filed dueling lawsuits, and Londra was unable to release music for two years. The lawsuits were settled out of court in Miami in 2021, but that difficult period also coincided with the pandemic and lots of uncertainty in the world.
Another artist might have just given up, exhausted by life and the music business. But Londra found a way to use the years-long pause in his career to map out his next move. He became a dad to two little girls in that time, and soon he felt reenergized and inspired, ready to start again. “You have to say, ‘Are we gonna use this as something positive or are we gonna be angry every day?’” he says. “It was hard, but I learned what I wanted to do and what songs I want to leave behind. It taught me to value everything.”
He burst back onto the scene in March with “Plan A,” a surprising swell of pop punk and jarring guitars, completely different from any of his previous music. “Now it’s time to make things I really like,” he says, “for me to go, ‘Whoa, I’m gonna blast this in my car,’ and for my daughter to say, ‘Dad made this song!’” He kept going, making 2022 his most productive and creative year yet: He nearly broke the internet when he did one of the famed Argentine producer Bizarrap’s BZRP sessions (111 million views and counting). In June, Londra surprised his fans again, with back-to-back releases, sharing the upbeat “Nublado” and the rave-ready “Luces” on the same night.
Each song is building up to a new album, Back to the Game, an ambitious, layered project that includes an experiment with bossa nova and a cumbia track. It chronicles the experience of someone who’s been waiting to take their shot: “That’s what I wanted reflected on the album,” Londra says. “For people to see a guy who had a tough time, but at the end can crush it when the moment of action comes.”
He’s seizing the moment and working with artists he’s always wanted to bring into his orbit. He recently teamed up with the Colombian star Feid for “A Veces,” which will appear on his upcoming album. “I was so inspired by the ease with which he writes — he brought his notebook to the studio, his cables, his things, and he recorded his part himself,” Londra says. In November, he joined Lil Baby and Tears for Fears for an update of Budweiser’s FIFA World Cup anthem, and Travis Barker hopped on a remix of “Nublado.”
The music is more than just a comeback; Londra feels like he’s found himself. “I’m doing something that feels very me,” he says. “I’m more sure of everything.”