Karol G’s career and fame have exploded in recent years. With more than 59 million Instagram followers and 38 million monthly Spotify listeners, the reggaeton megastar was the most streamed Latina on Spotify last year and the most viewed artist on Vevo. Her music videos have been viewed billions of times, and she performed last year on the main stage at Coachella.
But as she reached new heights in her career last year, internally she was processing her breakup from Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA and dealing with the feelings of isolation that can come with fame.
“Not everything [is] about numbers and charts. It was hard because everybody was seeing that I was in the top of my career, but maybe … inside I was losing like the most valuable things in my life,” Karol G told CBS News.
She said a lot of the songs on her new album — which is dropping at midnight — came from her breakup. The album is titled, “Mañana Será Bonito” (“Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful”), and features a highly anticipated collaboration between Karol G and fellow Colombian superstar Shakira.
Karol G said she allowed herself to feel sad and cry, while being hopeful for the future.
“I always try to keep a positive attitude all the time. And I talk a lot to myself all the time and all those moments, I was like, letting myself be sad, letting myself feel as I cry and in a lot of things and just keep in my mind, like, maybe tomorrow is going to be different and maybe tomorrow is going to be beautiful,” she said.
It wasn’t too long ago that Karol G, born Carolina Giraldo Navarro, was headlining smaller stages — performing at family parties as a kid and school events in Medellín, Colombia, with the support of her father. She learned from there that she could make a career by doing something she really enjoyed.
She adopted the stage name “Karol G” after auditioning for the Colombian version of the reality competition “The X Factor.” Discouraging meetings with record labels and business executives followed, leaving her wondering if she could break into the male-dominated reggaeton industry.
Born from Jamaican reggae and dancehall, reggaeton originated in Panama and later became popular in Puerto Rico. It has often placed women at the center of the song, but historically more often as the object, rather than the subject.
“They were like, ‘Hey, you’re a woman doing reggaeton and that’s not going to happen. But we want your lyrics. We want you being a composer for different artists.’ And I was like, ‘No, I don’t want this. Like, I compose my own songs and I want to keep doing this for my music,'” she said.
Eventually, she broke through, and in 2016, Karol G signed with Universal Music Latino as a reggaeton singer. Two years later, she won the Latin Grammy award for Best New Artist. She has collaborated with some big names including Bad Bunny and Nicki Minaj.
She has also introduced a new lifestyle to her female fans — coining the term “Bichota,” which roughly translates to “bad ass.” Karol G’s lyrics offer a steamy and raw perspective from the female gaze that doesn’t shy away from topics like sex.
“We are human. Humans just have the same experiences, no matter if it’s a boy, if it’s a girl. I think that’s why I connected with my people, is because they find their lives in a song,” she said.