The number 247 of Antezana street, a two-story house, like most of those that populate the middle-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, is the house in which Alejandro Farache spent his childhood. For thousands of teenagers who pass by every day and leave graffiti on its facade, who meet at the door to take photos at any time, it is the mecca of the musical movement of their lives. The Argentine trap exploded so quickly that it already has a monument. In five years it went from a group of kids who got together to improvise hip hop in a plaza to the ears of an entire Spanish-speaking generation. Farache, a 51-year-old merchant, says that his parents bought the house in the mid-seventies, that they moved there when he was five years old, and that, after his mother’s death, it was put up for rent.
First a family moved there. Then, in mid-2017, it was rented by a group of twenty-somethings. They were some of the founders of El Quinto Escalon, the improvised hip hop competition that began on the steps of a park, a few streets south of the house, and ended up filling warehouses with thousands of teenagers. Alejo Nahuel Costa (known as Ysy A), one of its creators, and Mauro Ezequiel Lombardo (known as Duki), its great champion, moved to Antezana 247 as the competition announced its end. “I thought they were youtubers: I had no idea what trap was”, remembers Farache, who returned to live in the house with his family to discover that its door was a museum. “Now I am the number one fan, but I remember that the boys’ representative told me about his future, Duki’s more than anything. He said that he was going to be the Luis Miguel of the trap. So it seemed like an exaggeration.”
Duki (Buenos Aires, 26 years old) ended up proving the opposite. And she did it like lightning: she won El Quinto Escalon in August 2016 and in November of that year she published her first single, which reached two million views on YouTube in two weeks. Four albums and more than a hundred songs later, he is now disembarking in Spain for his two presentations this weekend in Madrid (this Friday and Saturday at the WiZink Center), with all the tickets already sold out. For the following, in Barcelona (March 3 and 4 at the Palau Saint Jordi), only a few remain. Between October and November of last year, he filled the Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires four times and became the fastest Argentine artist to sell out tickets: 180,000 tickets. they flew in hours.
The reference was not accidental. In 2018, before the Argentine trap broke borders, before the millions of views on YouTube and world tours, a 22-year-old Duki who had not yet released an album was invited to sing at the Gardel Awards, the awards of the National Music. It was an exotic choice, and he took advantage of it in his own style: in addition to the voice processor, he was accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra. “You have to ban the autotune”, Charly Garcia (Buenos Aires, 71 years old) ironized that night, who received the most important award, the Gardel de Oro, after the presentation of the ragpicker. The industry sided with one of its biggest heroes, and criticism rained down for weeks. “I love him,” Duki released a month later, in an interview for the cover of the Argentine edition of rolling stones. “Charly can tell me that I’m a son of a thousand bitches and he’s going to be all right,” she added.
Time, once again, ended up agreeing with him. Duki has not yet won any Gardel award, but since his presentation until today, the urban music of which he was the spearhead has won the awards. Last year, Wos (Valentin Oliva, another champion of El Quinto Escalon) became the first rapper to lift the Gardel de Oro. He was accompanied on the podium by his battle partner, Trueno, with the award for best live album; Nicki Nicole, with best urban music album, and the success reggaeton by Maria Becerra and Tini Stoessel, Lie to Meas song of the year.
Urban music has experienced an explosion in Argentina. The country, proud of its national rock and whose popular identity was always linked to cumbia, had never made a place for hip hop in its industry. The foundation stone was laid by this generation, which became popular with improvisational street battles or freestyle. “Everything starts there, That is the particularity that Argentina has over other countries. A good part of the current urban music singers are born in battles”, analyzes Sebastian Munoz, a doctor in Anthropology who studied the incursion of hip hop in the country since the eighties. And he explains: “The people who did rap, fundamentally since the nineties, did not identify with the popular sectors, contrary to what happened in Chile, in Spain, perhaps in Mexico. In Argentina there were figures like Ilya Kuryaki & the Valderramas or the Argentine Hip Hop Union, but they were not very close. Rap was not popular because it did not identify with the people. He was criticized as something gringo ”.
For Munoz, urban music was “in the eye of the storm” of a process of change in the cultural industries towards digitization. Making hip hop was easier than forming a band: with a computer at home, a singer could experiment and record himself. “From 2015 onwards, worldwide, all that music that was made in a self-managed way collided with the reorganization that produced the streaming and the possibility that the industry, the big labels, see a business there”, he says. “The growth was autonomous with respect to the market, it had nothing to do with the industry. Network underground it generated its own market and, due to the numbers it has, it began to be profitable for the labels. Spotify was starting to be super important. Musicians also find that they can start monetizing their songs from there. It is music appropriate to the production rate of an algorithm: one can constantly produce and publish.
A friend of Andres Calamaro and praised by Fito Paez, Dillom admits that a lot of national rock was heard at home, but that he “didn’t see the value in it”. “Now I can understand the greatness of these figures and it is an honor,” he points out about the affection he receives from the fathers of the national industry, but does not leave them on the pedestal: “This endorsement is heavy and it helps me a lot because its public He is very critical of my generation, but I think we have a mutual exchange. There are also a lot of people who listen to me, who didn’t grow up with them, and are now interested in their music. They don’t need my validation, obviously, but it’s a way to show them respect.”
This generation of Argentine musicians broke that barrier with rock and eliminated the prejudice that hip hop was music “for gringos.” And he did it hugging the most popular artist from his childhood: Eminem. The movie 8 miles, where the rapper recounts his success through street battles, is a constant reference among the first ragpickers. This lack of prejudice converged with an accelerated digitization, in which the Government also played its role: artists like Neo Pistea, another illustrious resident of Antezana 247, or the rapper L-Gante, one of the exponents of the new Argentine cumbia, produced his first songs on the laptops of the Conectar Igualdad program, which between 2010 and 2015 distributed almost five million computers to public school children throughout the country.
Perhaps the best example of how curiosity and access to technology launched this generation to stardom is in Gonzalo Julian Conde, Bizarrap for the world. Before being the most sought-after music producer of the moment, who takes Nathy Peluso, Residente or Shakira to his home studio, Bizarrap, now 24 years old, was almost a chronicler of street battles. The world knows Bizarrap for his more than 50 studio sessions with the cream of urban music, but teenagers in Argentina still remember his first YouTube channel, now closed, where he prepared the Combos Locos: edited summaries with the best battles, editions with jokes about other not so good ones and some of their first songs.
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