Q&A: María Becerra, from YouTuber to the Latin Grammys

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Argentine singer Maria Becerra performs in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

NEW YORK – Before she became one of the most popular Argentine singers of the last year, María Becerra was a YouTuber whose funny videos, in which she appeared bathing her cat and even shaving her face with foam, generated millions of views. But her true passion was music, not comedy, and now she is nominated for the Latin Grammy for best new artist.

“I was such a character,” she says about her teenage years producing her own videos. “And I was always like that, inventing plays or scripts in my head that I wanted the world to see ... I was always very involved in everything related to art. I did a lot of theater but I was also very involved in self-management. I liked being very independent when doing my stuff”.

That’s something that stuck with her as an emerging Latin urban singer: Becerra does not have a record label, only distribution. Still, in the last few months she appeared in Argentina's Spotify Top 10 with collaborations like “Wow Wow” with Becky G, “Antes de Ti” with Rusherking, “Mal Acostumbrao” with Mau and Ricky and the international hit “Qué Más Pues?” with J Balvin.

Mostly a reggaeton singer-songwriter, although she has also performed R&B and bachata, in 2019 she debuted with the single “222” and two years later released the EP "Animal, Part 1", which was followed this year by her first full album, “Animal”. She has also appeared in multiple remixes with popular artists, such as “En Tu Cuerpo” with Lyanno, Rauw Alejandro and Lenny Tavárez, “AYNEA” with FMK and Beret, and “Además de Mí” with Rusherking, Khea and Duki, Lit Killah and Tiago Pzk, her first No. 1 on Argentina's Hot 100.

“It would be a great achievement for me if I can maintain my career like this,” working independently, says the 21-year-old artist, who started at 12 by posting her first video on Facebook (a 5 minute parody monologue that was viewed over a million times in just a few hours). “I know that there comes a point where it is very difficult to pay all the expenses, because the videos, everything, I pay for it. ... But my goal would be to have my own record company. That would be incredible”.

Becerra will compete for the Latin Grammy with Giulia Be, Bizarrap, Boza, Zoe Gotusso, Humbe, Rita Indiana, Lasso, Paloma Mami, Marcos Mares and Juliana Velásquez. The awards ceremony will be November 18 in Las Vegas, where she says she'd love to meet Rosalía, Karol G and Natti Natasha.

In a recent interview from Buenos Aires, she also spoke of her first steps in music and a wave of urban artists hailing from Argentina, a country best known for tango and rock en español. Remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.

AP: How was the transition from YouTuber to singer?

BECERRA: I think the transition happened when I got to a point where making the videos, which fascinated me but was a lot of work, was not filling me. It was not something I wanted to do all my life. So I reached a point where I was 17, 18 years old, that I said: “I’m investing a lot of time in this and I really want to be a singer, I want to make my music, write my own songs.” I thought: “Thank God I am well known with what I do and I feel that the audience that has supported me a lot and that also supported my music,” because at the same time that I was making my videos, I had released three songs, I was doing covers, and people also knew me for that.

AP: You are part of a group of emerging artists from Argentina that includes Nikki Nicole, Bizarrat, Tiago PZK. What do you think of this movement in country? We're used to seeing reggaetón artists from Puerto Rico, Colombia, but from Argentina it seems like something newer.

BECERRA: Yes, it is much newer. I think that one of the first Argentines to do reggaeton was Cazzu with her album “Maldades”. There are many more too, but it was more underground. While in Puerto Rico and Colombia there were J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Farruko, De La Ghetto, pioneers that have been for a long time in the industry, we were just starting because here national rock was king. But I think that thanks to those who paved the way, like Cazzu, whom I admire a lot, things have gotten easier for us.

AP: You've mentioned J Balvin as a singer you used to listen to growing up, and now you have a hit with him.

BECERRA: I’ve listened to him all my life. About eight years ago, I was dancing to one of his most famous reggaetones with my friends. And it’s like, “J Balvin”, do you understand? Having a song with him today is a great example of achievement, of perseverance, of hard work.


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