Intense reggaeton rhythms synthesize with calm pop vocals in the newest album by reggaeton’s current queen Karol G. On March 25, the Colombian singer released “KG0516,” a title that commemorates the day her parents first signed her stage name into existence: the genesis of Karol G.
Born Carolina Giraldo Navarro in Medellín, Colombia in 1991, she has since risen meteorically to fame as Karol G. As one of the most successful female musicians ever in the reggaeton genre, her newest album embraces this status and dispels some of the stereotypes that often surround women in the music industry and a genre as male-dominated as reggaeton.
“KG0516” begins with a pop-reggaeton fusion in “Déjalos Que Miren,” a love ballad presumably directed at her ex-fiancée Anuel AA, another famous Reggaeton musician. From there, the album quickly evolves into one characterized by female empowerment, which seemingly reflects Karol G’s own journey to the top of the music world.
Throughout the album, Karol G uplifts female voices and artists. In “El Makinon,” she collaborates with Mariah Angeliq, a rising star, in a song that refutes many of the stereotypes for women within the reggaeton genre. Instead of singing about the men they love, Mariah Angeliq and Karol G sing about hanging out with their crew, driving around in Lamborghinis and breaking the law since they were 16 years old. It is clear from the song’s lyrics and music video that Karol G and Mariah Angeliq have thrown convention out the window (presumably, of their Lamborghinis).
Similarly, the song “200 Copas” seems to be a different type of love ballad: a “corrido,” a song for one of Karol G’s friends who she feels is being mistreated by her boyfriend. This song is unique not only because of its subject matter, but also because it is the first corrido track by Karol G and solidifies that this album will be a mix of different musical styles.
The popular “Bichota” is confident, sex-empowering and a declaration of Karol G’s independence, strength and femininity in a male-dominated genre. Notably, the album also includes the monumental “Tusa” with Nicki Minaj, which was a pre-release and has already reached over one billion streams on Spotify. Sampling the song “Beautiful Girls” (2007) by Sean Kingston, “Beautiful Boy” with Ludacris and Emilee is a tender love song with an intimate, soothing melody set under heavy bass and strong rap verses.
The real powerhouses on the album are the songs “Arranca Pal Carajo” with reggaeton stars Juanka and Brray, “Sola Es Mejor” by up-and-coming musical group Yandar & Yostin and “Leyendas” with a whole list of collaborators: Wisin & Yandel, Nicky Jam, Ivy Queen, Zion and Alberto Stylee. “Arranca Pal Carajo” is a reggaeton track simply waiting for clubs and parties to resume so it can become a staple of the late-night scene. “Sola Es Mejor” delivers flowing techno voiceovers that flash through the underlying reggaeton beats.
Even given the brilliance of the rest of the album, “Leyendas” is masterful. A track that honors and samples the iconic song “Quiero Bailar” (2003) by the “Queen of Reggaeton,” Ivy Queen, the song is both a reaffirmation of women’s influence in the genre and also a sort of passing of the mic from one monarch to their successor. The track swells with 2000s reggaeton rhythms and fuses them flawlessly with a more modern sound. Each collaborating artist contributes a bombshell verse, one after the other, as the rhythm breaks down into different styles and substances. And, as usual, the contrasting beats and artists are held together by Karol G herself.
“KG0516” is a reclamation of reggaeton, one which proves that there is power in women’s hands within the genre, and celebrates the artists and sounds of the past with twists of Karol G’s unique style. Each song is special and remarkable in its own way. Overall, the album is a testament to Karol G’s talent and power as a singer.