The Bizarrap Bump: Latin Artists Are Blowing Up After BZRP Sessions
by Brandon Lowman, music and technology writer and contributor to Third Bridge Creative
In 2019, the Argentine producer Bizarrap contacted a local rapper named Kodigo about making a song together. Bizarrap, born Gonzalo Julián Conde, was a university student with little experience in the professional music industry at the time, but the collaboration—a Latin trap banger with a stripped-down video depicting the two men vibing in the producer’s studio—took off, eventually racking up 11 million YouTube views. It became the blueprint for BZRP Music Sessions, a series of songs featuring different vocalists rapping and singing over Bizarrap’s synth-streaked beats, which draw freely from Latin trap swagger, reggaetón and dembow syncopation, and EDM extravagance.
What began as a hobbyist’s lark is now a highly influential force in global pop. Though Bizarrap still often works with Argentine up-and-comers, his roster of collaborators has expanded to include artists from across the Spanish-speaking world, including the occasional bona fide celebrity, like Nicky Jam, who appeared on “BZRP Music Sessions #41.” (Underscoring the informal nature of the project, the songs don’t get proper titles; just numbers.) Taken together, the BZRP Sessions videos have more than 1 billion total YouTube plays. The latest installment, a hugely catchy dance-pop cut featuring the baritone-voiced Spanish rapper Quevedo, currently has more than 256 million views on YouTube, and has been sitting in the Top 5 of Spotify Top Songs - Global chart since July 15, with most of that stint at No. 1. Though the scale of Bizarrap’s success has changed, the aesthetics of the sessions have largely remained the same: As with that first Kodigo collab, the Quevedo video is charmingly low-key, with no fancy sets or effects, just the rapper and producer recording and having fun.
Given Bizarrap’s penchant for working with artists who haven’t yet reached superstar status, and the runaway success of sessions like Quevedo’s, we were interested to see what sort of sustained impact a BZRP Session feature might have on an artist’s career. We focused on three artists who have recorded sessions since the series’ 2019 debut: Quevedo, Puerto Rico’s Villano Antillano, and Argentina’s L-Gante. For each artist, we looked at metrics like monthly Spotify listeners and social media followings, comparing their stats from before the show’s release to the growth they saw after.
Villano Antillano - BZRP Music Sessions #51
Puerto Rico’s Villano Antillano, one of the first trans artists to achieve major commercial success in Latin rap, received a serious career boost when she linked up with Bizarrap to record “BZRP Music Sessions #51,” which finds her atop ping-ponging synth arpeggios offering a nonchalant admission of “mala mia” (“my bad”) in response to accusations that she has a great great flow or is trying to steal your man.
When the song dropped on June 7 of this year, Antillano had 80,314 Spotify listeners per month. Her previous peak in monthly listenership on the platform had come in April, with about 430,000 monthly listeners, attracted by the then-recent release of singles like “Vocales” and Antillano’s appearance with fellow budding Latin stars paopao and La Gabi on the all-women group album hembrismo. But those successes pale in comparison to what came next. One month after the release of “BZRP Music Sessions #51,” Antillano’s monthly Spotify listenership had jumped to 6,640,482, more than 15 times higher than that previous peak. By late August, the growth was showing no signs of slowing, with monthly listenership at 9,432,584. Subsequent singles “Mujerón” and “KLK” have contributed some to Antillano’s skyrocketing Spotify success, but it’s clear that the BZRP session is the primary driver, with 111,138,217 total plays on the platform to date, compared to 934,569 and 547,419 respectively for those two songs.
The popularity boost Antillano received from her BZRP session also translated to her social media followings. On all major platforms, she experienced relatively flat follower growth throughout 2022, until a burst of popularity coinciding with the song’s early June release: from 662 TikTok followers on the day it dropped to 430,300 two months later.
Given the recency of “BZRP Music Sessions #51” and Antillano’s continually rising star, there’s no telling how large the song will eventually loom in her career arc overall. But it’s clear from the data that the collaboration with Bizarrap represents the biggest break she’s seen so far.
L-Gante - BZRP Music Sessions #38
L-Gante, an Argentine artist who makes a weed-friendly blend of cumbia and reggaetón that’s been dubbed “Cumbia 420,” was more independently established than Villano Antillano when he recorded his BZRP session last year. But he still saw a significant bump in his fanbase after the release of the collaboration. BZRP Music Sessions #38 sets his stoned-sounding boasts against a beat that combines live-band cumbia samples with slabs of electronic bass ominous enough to score a horror film.
L-Gante was already attracting 3,913,037 monthly Spotify listeners when “BZRP Music Sessions #38” came out on March 10, 2021, aided in large part by “L-Gante RKT,” a hit collaboration with the producer Papu DJ. A month after his BZRP session, his monthly Spotify listenership had nearly doubled, jumping to 6,049,473, with the Bizarrap collab helping to maintain a growth rate that had held fairly steady since the late-2020 release of “L-Gante RKT.” A year later, in March 2022, his Spotify listenership was still on the rise, at 9,130,602.
L-Gante’s exploding popularity on Spotify since 2021 cannot be attributed solely to the BZRP Session. In addition to the prior success of “L-Gante RKT,” there was also his appearance on “Bar,” a smash single by the Argentine singer Tini, which prompted a major spike in his listenership growth rate when it was released in November 2021. But, with 190,075,831 total streams to date, BZRP Music Sessions #38 is his biggest Spotify success, edging out both “Bar” and “L-Gante RKT,” each of which has about 147 million total plays.
L-Gante’s Instagram and Facebook profiles, which he created not long before the BZRP session, each saw a significant bump in follower growth rate coinciding with the release of the collaboration. On Instagram, his follower count doubled over the month following the release, jumping from from 507,892 on March 9 to 1,141,012 on April 9. And on Facebook, his fan count also nearly doubled, albeit on a smaller scale, rising from 8,676 to 16,468 over the same period.
As L-Gante’s data shows, not only can a BZRP session provide new artists with their first major break, it can also help to boost musicians whose careers were already on the upswing.
Quevedo - BZRP Music Sessions #52
The most recent BZRP session, released July 6 and featuring Spain’s Quevedo, is perhaps the most successful of the series so far. On Spotify, its plays to date—now over 420 million—put it over 100 million above the next contender, Bizarrap’s collaboration with the Argentine rapper Tiago PZK. On YouTube, with 256 million views and counting, it’s about 100 million behind Nathy Peluso’s November 2020 session, the reigning champ on that platform. But it’s worth keeping in mind that Quevedo’s session has been out for only about two months, whereas Peluso’s has been out for nearly two years. Chartmetric began collecting data on the Peluso session about a year after its release, when it had 269 million plays; given that Quevedo is already within striking distance of that number two months in, it seems possible that he might eventually overtake Peluso’s total.
Like L-Gante, Quevedo already had a robust following before his BZRP session, but the collaboration has helped him to scale new heights. On July 6, the day of the release, he had 9,461,460 monthly Spotify listeners, many of them attracted by his 2021 single “Ahora y Siempre” and his appearance on the popular remix to La Pantera’s “Cayó La Noche” earlier this year. One month after the BZRP session, his monthly Spotify listener count had nearly tripled from that already impressive number, to a staggering 27,399,122. By late August, the number had grown further, to 31,766,463. The July release of “Sin Señal,” a collaboration with Colombian producer Ovy on the Drums, assisted that growth, but the BZRP session was the biggest factor by far, with more than 10 times as many total plays on the platform.
Quevedo also saw significant gains on social media after the BZRP session. On Instagram, his follower count doubled from 622,651 on release day to 1,249,746 a month later, and his Twitter following grew from 34,492 to 78,882 over the same period.
With “BZRP Music Sessions #52” still sitting comfortably near the top of Spotify’s Top Songs - Global chart, only time will tell how it might continue to grow Quevedo’s career in the month to come.
Will Bizarrap Build the Future of Latin Music?
Whether an artist is embarking toward a commercial career for the first time, or already well on their way, it’s clear that a BZRP session can provide them with a serious push. For Villano Antillano, who was just beginning to gain a commercial foothold when Bizarrap came calling, the session proved to be the most significant boost of her career by an extremely wide margin; and with subsequent singles significantly outperforming her releases from before the collaboration, there are signs that the success could be more than a flash in the pan.
And for Quevedo, an artist coming off a string of successes whose session has become a global smash hit, the collaboration with Bizarrap may be the thing that nudges him to household-name status. Currently, his Chartmetric score—a proprietary metric that tracks an artist’s overall career performance based on data from across streaming and social media—has him as the 170th ranked artist in the world overall, which puts him in the same ballpark as iconic acts like Tupac and Enrique Iglesias. On the day before the session release, his rank was 1,827.
Only time will tell how future BZRP sessions will impact other artists’ trajectories, but given that Bizarrap’s most recent collaboration has produced his biggest hit yet, it’s reasonable to expect that he’ll continue blowing up the careers of future Latin pop and rap stars going forward, and that the biggest bumps might still be to come.