Paulo Londra was just 13 when he first saw Eminem in the 2002 film 8 Mile. That same year, he began freestyling in the plazas of Córdoba, Argentina. Now, at the age of 21, Londra is nominated for Best New Artist at the 20th Annual Latin Grammys.
“I came from rapping in the city squares,” he says, sounding awestruck over the Latin Grammys nod. “I represent people who can go from nothing and bet on everything.”
In January 2017, Londra uploaded his first single, and eventual smash hit, “Relax,” to YouTube. Today, he is the most listened-to Argentine artist on Spotify. Informed by currents in hip-hop, trap, and reggaeton, Londra specializes in wholesome songs about having a great time with friends and falling madly in love — without watering down his unmistakably cordobesa drawl. Londra unleashed his inner poet in the 2018 song In “Adan y Eva,” in which he surrenders himself to a smoldering, forbidden love: “Like Adam and Eve, we have our sins/As two thieves, a well-kept secret.” The song hit Number One in Argentina, and has racked up over 660 million views on YouTube since its release.
“It creates distinctions and gives [me] freedom,” he says of his lyrical approach, which skirts around subjects like drugs and violence or any other risky business. “Just because we have roots in trap or hip-hop doesn’t mean we have to [rap] about the same things.”
It’s a charming gimmick, and one that has drawn in collaborations with superstars like Becky G (“Cuando Te Besé“) and Steve Aoki (the remix of “Forever Alone“). During their live set at this year’s Lollapalooza Argentina, Aoki exclaimed, “[Londra] is a real fucking genius!”
This summer, Londra joined Ed Sheeran on a song called “Nothing On You,” which also featured British rapper Dave. The globetrotting collaboration took flight after Londra’s producer, Ovy on the Drums, got a beat special-made by Sheeran’s producer Fred Again. Londra subsequently wrote his own verses over the track. “I did it in five minutes! It was lit,” he says. “I had to send it quickly to see what they thought.” It was an instant hit: After getting the blessing from Warner Music, he then flew to London to shoot the video, which follows the gents through a leisurely bicycle ride.
“Many times people have asked me: Do you want everyone to listen to you?” says Londra. “All I know is that I like to create music and the love that people give me for what I do. I don’t know if I would like everyone to listen to me, but that those who listen to me, value me. That would be good.”
This interview was conducted by Manuel Buscalia in Spanish and translated by Suzy Exposito.