Karol G is easily one of the most gripping artists in urbano right now, but her road to fame, and attempts to earn respect as a woman in reggaeton, wasn’t easy. While it seems like the Medellín-born talent popped into the scene just as quickly as J Balvin made the world fall in love with Colombian urbano, in a new interview with the streaming service TIDAL, the singer-songwriter opens up about her long, and at times frustrating and debilitating, rise to stardom.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years now, and I feel like the last three have been the culmination of all my work. Everything has been worth it, but it’s been hard. It’s been really complicated,” the 27-year-old artist, born Carolina Giraldo Navarro, told Jesus Trivino, editorial director of Latin culture and content at TIDAL and host of the service’s Moment of Truth series.
Throughout the nearly 10-minute-long interview, the two chat more about her career, friendship with fellow Colombian megastar Balvin, her early love for 2000s-era rap greats G-Unit and making hip-hop-inspired Latin music. Watch the enlightening and feel-good interview below and take a look at five of our favorite moments.
1. Bringing Positive Attention to Colombia
For too long, the South American country has been known for little more than drug lords and civil wars. That’s why Karol is hype to be shining a more positive light on her homeland through music.
“The great part about this is that Colombia is finally being recognized for other things, and Colombia is finally providing incredible things to the rest of the world. Before it was Colombia: Pablo Escobar. Now it’s Colombia: J Balvin, Maluma, Karol G,” she says excitedly.
2. Having a Super Supportive Papi
While Latinx parents are known for being critical of their children’s artistic pursuits, Karol’s dad has actually been her longest and most die-hard supporter, and she doesn’t forget that.
“He always believed, because he always dreamed about me being a singer. And his life’s responsibility was to help his family get ahead, so he didn’t have the same opportunities. But definitely, when he realized I had this talent, he would just talk about me singing all over the place. And when he found contests or things I could compete in, he was always on top of it. Even now, lots of times I wanted to stop. When I would say, ‘I’m done with this. I don’t like it. I want to study something else. I’m going to do something else with my life,’ he always said, ‘No. I know what I have. I know who my daughter is. I know what you represent. I know what you have.’ And we would argue. We wouldn’t see eye to eye for a while, but now we’re here. My dad and I have always been a great team.”
3. On Her Friendship With J Balvin
Karol and Balvin aren’t just new acts putting on for Colombia, they’re also longtime friends, and with that comes lots of love, support and, of course, some bickering.
“We talked on the phone about a week ago, and it got sentimental. We got emotional talking about my first tour in the U.S. He said we had grown apart because we’re so busy, and we talked and we got emotional. He said he was really proud of me, and wherever he goes, they talk about me, they make comments. And I said I was really grateful to him because so much of who I am today, as a woman, personally, he formed the person as it relates to the artist. And he always taught me that the artist and the person have to be one and the same, not a character on one hand and the real person on the other. They had to be the same. And it was great. You know, we really love each other. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we hate each other. Sometimes we hang up on each other. But we always talk.”
4. On Balvin’s Success Before Hers
When you’re two homies trying to make it in the same industry, and one of your careers is excelling while the other’s stagnant, jealousy is likely to arise. But not here. Karol, who admits she was frustrated with the slower pace of her ascending fame, never hated on her friend’s success.
“I was never jealous, but it was frustrating. Obviously, it was frustrating for me to see how everyone was evolving, everyone was growing, things were happening for them. I felt like I was going in circles, not much was happening for me. But he always told me to have patience, that when you do things the right way, it’ll come together. The most memorable saying is: everyone’s process is different. Our sacrifices are different. And over time, we all receive different payment. So if you keep working, one of these days you’re going to get paid for your time and your sacrifice. And I kept going.”
5. On Her Name and Love for G-Unit
Apparently Karol, like just about every middle and high schooler in the early 2000s, was a G-Unit fan, so much that the hip-hop group influenced her stage name.
“When I was in high school, I loved G-Unit. I thought they were great. I listened to all their music, and I loved that they had a club of artists. Everyone in my high school, my name was Carolina Giraldo, they called me Carol G because I wore G-Unit hats and everything. They called me Carol G, and then when I signed my first contract, they asked me for my stage name, and I said Carol G. But they said I should use a K, so it looks cooler, and that’s the story of my name.”
For more Karol G goodies, including her Medellín pride, love for hip-hop, studying music and more, peep the interview in its entirety below — you won’t be disappointed.