Karol G Talks Working With Nicki Minaj, Being Featured on Pop Smoke’s Debut Album and More
Come See About Me
Colombian music star Karol G has found inspiration in hip-hop.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Latin trap-pop singer Karol G loves all types of music, but hip-hop has a special place in her heart. Born and raised in Medellin, Colombia, the 30-year-old star was an avid hip-hop head growing up. As her music career exploded, she was eager to collaborate with some rappers. In 2017, Karol dropped her two-times platinum debut album, Unstoppable. That same year, she did a remix to her breakout hit “Ahora Me Llama,” which featured Migos’ Quavo. The record was a success, going 10-times platinum. Two years later, Karol released her huge hit “Tusa” featuring Nicki Minaj, which has gone 35-times platinum in the U.S. alone. Most recently, Karol collaborated with Ludacris on the track “Beautiful Boy,” off her third album KGO516.
Here, Karol G talks about meeting Nicki Minaj, feeling like a member of G-Unit and more.
XXL: When did you start listening to hip-hop?
Karol G: I love hip-hop. Like, I was a really huge fan of Eminem, but like, really bad. The Marshall Mathers [LP], that’s my baby. I used to get videos from my family in the United States. In school, I used to be in love with G-Unit and have the posters and everything, the sneakers. When I was in school, my name is Carolina, they used to call me Carolina G because of G-Unit. So, when I started looking for my artist name, it was Karol G because of that.
You may have to have 50 Cent on your next album.
I had something on the Pop Smoke album called “Enjoy Yourself.” I talked to [50 Cent] in a few messages. He was so nice. Telling me that Pop Smoke, before he died, he spoke with Tyga about me being on that song and that was crazy for me, too.
Your video with Nicki for “Tusa” has over 1 billion views. What made you choose her for that song?
[In June], my label told me that with “Tusa,” we have the No. 3 most-awarded song in the world. I never would’ve thought that I could do a song with Nicki Minaj and that song was No. 1 in the world. We started sharing messages on Instagram. She started following me, then we shared some songs. We couldn’t find one that I liked and that she liked. But then, I had “Tusa” and I sent it to her and she loved it. Her answer was, “That’s the shit I was looking for.” After five hours, she sends me her verse. She recorded so fast. And after one month, we shot the video. Everything came like, super organic.
You recently worked with Ludacris. He’s on your album KG0516 as a feature on the song “Beautiful Boy.”
I was just looking at some videos on TikTok at night and then I watched a video of a girl. She was doing a cover of “Beautiful Girls” [by Sean Kingston]. So, I took that video and sent it to my producer. And we created a really good song. And I was there, I was like, “Hey, [what] if we put Ludacris [on the song], like how they did on ‘Baby,’ the Justin Bieber song?” I called my label and was like, “Hey, please, I need Ludacris on this song.” They put me on a video call with Ludacris. He told me, “You know what, Karol? My kids are crazy with ‘Ocean’ your song.” And, I was like, dying because Ludacris told me his kids like my music.
Who are your favorite rappers at the moment?
I can say Pop Smoke, that album is crazy. J. Cole, with that last album. Drake is amazing, too. I love him so much. I love Travis Scott. It’s not just about the music, it’s the creativity he has. He creates different brands. One thing that I admire about him a lot is the way he creates an experience for everything.
Is there a rapper you’d want to work with in the future?
I forgot to mention Kendrick Lamar. [He] fascinates me. I’d like to work with Kendrick Lamar.
Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Nick Mira's thoughts on producing the beats for the Freshman Class, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year, a look at what the 2020 XXL Freshman Class has been up to since last year, Moneybagg Yo's candid discussion about his new music, family and indie label, and more.