With Peso Pluma, Mexican Music Is Taking Over the World

Reggaeton, Spanish-language rap and pop remain at the top of the charts year after year, while increasingly, another genre has also been on the rise: Mexican music, or Música Mexicana

Peso Pluma (right), with Argentine DJ and producer Bizarrap.
By Ashley Carman
May 31, 2023 | 12:21 PM

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Bloomberg — Bruno Del Granado, head of global Latin music at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), thought the Latin music explosion would arrive in 1999. In May of that year, Ricky Martin released his self-titled album featuring Livin’ La Vida Loca, and around the same time, other artists, including Enrique Iglesias and Shakira, dominated the charts. But as summer turned to fall, Latin music faded with it, at least in the mainstream US.

Not until 2017, with Luis Fonsi’s Despacito and, later, Bad Bunny’s record-breaking global success over multiple albums and singles, did Del Granado experience the moment he thought he would at the start of the new millennium.

“Look how the first three months of 2023 are shaping up to be bigger than last year,” he said.

Latin music, he added, “just keeps growing and growing.”

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Reggaeton, Spanish-language rap and pop remain at the top of the charts year after year, while increasingly, another genre has also been on the rise: Mexican music, or Música Mexicana. This broad genre encompasses a variety of subcategories, including norteño, corridos, mariachi and banda.

The genre’s biggest artists surface throughout the new Bloomberg Pop Star Power Ranking, as they have in months past. Natanael Cano and Grupo Frontera both appear in the top 25 with another star, Peso Pluma, a 23-year-old from Guadalajara whose stage name translates to “featherweight,” reigning supreme at number one.

People streamed Peso Pluma’s songs more than 600 million times on Spotify in April and more than 800 million times on YouTube, eclipsing artists of all genres. The singer, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, also appeared on stage at Coachella and performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon .


At the end of the month, he collaborated with Eslabon Armado to release Ella Baila Sola, which became the first song in the Mexican music genre to reach number one on Billboard’s Global 200. His music has reached listeners in various places online, including TikTok, where he appeared on four of the top trending Latin songs in the US on the short-form video platform in April.

He and the other massively popular Mexican superstars are crossing over into the broader US market and world and sharing their cultural heritage along the way.

“They have not sacrificed the music and the essence of who they are,” Del Granado said.

Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world with over 120 million people, and the US is also among the largest with more than an estimated 40 million people speaking Spanish in their homes as of 2019. Many have Mexican heritage, setting the genre up to win on streaming platforms. Executives in the space say Colombia is becoming a big market too, and they’re also eyeing Brazil.

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Eddie Ramos, senior vice president of marketing strategy and partnerships at DEL Records, and Bruce Ramos, SVP of monetization and business development, work with artists like Eslabon Armado, Lenin Ramírez and Ulices Chaidez. Leaning into the social platforms helped their artists grow and reach people all over the world, they said.

Peso Pluma's image on a billboard in New York City.dfd

Ella Baila Sola is a global song now, they pointed out. The genre — and this song especially — has become such a hit everywhere that they are exploring territories in Asia where the team might send artists to tour because of the streaming activity they’ve seen.

“We’re breaking through to people that may be fans of other genres,” said Bruce Ramos, who highlighted an EDM remix of Ella Baila Sola that played at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas earlier this month.


Still, despite its meteoric success, certain artists in the genre, particularly Peso Pluma and Natanael Cano, come with controversy. Both young artists have been classified by some as making narcocorridos, or songs that glorify cartels and drug trafficking. In a conversation with the YouTube channel Soy Grupero, Peso Pluma said he’s an artist who sings about the reality of daily life for many people and that some songs are “by request,” meaning people ask him to write them about specific events or people.

“It’s wrong to say it’s normal, we all know that,” he said of singing narcocorridos. “But what we’re saying and singing is not a lie.”

Rafael Acosta, an associate professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas who has studied corridos, said the criticism is hypocritical. English-language films also portray images of violence and glorify the idea of pushing back against enemies and defending one’s ground.

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“This is music that speaks to people who the state regularly antagonizes,” he said. “These groups then produce these sorts of narratives where they reinforce that they will defend themselves, that they cannot be harassed without consequences. I’m not saying this is good social policy. I think that to demonize them without recognizing that other groups participate in the same process and never get demonized in the same way is hypocritical.”


Overall, he says, the music is innovative and good and clearly resonates with people around the world who might not care about the subtext.

“It is a very joyful part of the Mexican experience, and this joy doesn’t have to imply subscribing to the violence or participating in the drug world — just interacting with other people, touching and being touched by other people, communicating by dancing and sharing an experience with music,” he said. “That context is also almost always overlooked because of all the other discourse that demonizes this genre.”

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