Entering the world of Julieta Cazzucheli is like opening one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books: Throughout her life, there were multiple paths, crossroads and surprises.
“La Jujeña” — as Cazzu is called by her colleagues because was born in the Northern Argentinean province San Salvador de Jujuy — is the exception to all the rules of the trap. Her origin is not from freestyle on the streets, the manufactured product of a producer or YouTube. Belonging to the “urban” genre, she does not come from a city either. Cazzu’s history is unique and does not resemble anyone else’s in the circle of the trap.
Born in 1993, she came to music through her father, an amateur folklore guitarist. The road she traveled was winding through different genres: failed attempts in cumbia, rock, nu metal and reggae were projects she joined in her teens, until finally she found her passion in reggaeton.
Halsey’s debut Badlands album inspired Cazzu’s June 2019 release, Error 93. “If you listen to Badlands and Error, you will find a lot of points in common,” Cazzu explains.
Cazzu understands the business as few people do, but not in terms of manufacturing, but rather as art. “I rely on my music a lot, because it is what gives me power, but nothing came out of somebody else’s head but mine,” she said. She sits at all the tables where she talks about her next moves, and she will never leave a room with the feeling she missed the chance to say something.
Her three shows at the Teatro Opera on Buenos Aires sold out in two days, and she is scheduled for a show at the mythic Luna Park Stadium in March 2020. For the September cover story of Billboard Argentina, Cazzu talks about the influences of Argentine trap, her relationship with the genre, what happens when pop uses urban elements and writing her own lyrics.
Who do you think is the American artist who influenced Argentine trap performers the most?
There are many that we respect, but I sincerely believe that Migos is the school. But the boys here created their own flow, which does not resemble anything the Americans have done. It does not even resemble what was done in Latin America; it is ours. For us, it is easier to make hardcore trap, something that Central American Latinos cannot do: Theirs goes through the happy notes, with little song; we are colder and darker. The rock DNA of our country somehow also made it easier for us to make that hardcore trap.
You have folklore, cumbia, rock, dubstep, nu metal, but your passion is reggaeton. How did you get to the genre?
At first, there was a rift between reggaeton with the world of hip-hop. I had to get mad at hip-hop to express myself in reggaeton, because it was as if you were betraying him. For me, inwardly, that fight never existed, because to be a reggaeton player, you had to have been a rapper before. Today, you can start your career with reggaeton, but at that time, you had to have necessarily been a rapper before.
What happens when pop uses the elements of urban? Do you feel it is cultural appropriation?
No. I can laugh, but if we have to think about cultural appropriation, everyone in Argentina is a tremendous mix of cultures. If tomorrow, I want to start doing K-pop, I’ll do it without any prejudice. It is important for us for the musical ego, to draw the line and know that we are not in the same gang. But also the other way around, I went to the Premios Juventud in the United States, which are from the pop world.
Are you a tough negotiator?
I do my business. I choose how many Teatro Opera gigs I do, I choose what songs are left, I choose how much value my merchandising has, which I also design, draw and sell. I feel that it is very difficult for any of my activities to be resolved without me saying how it should be done. I designed my show; I have it here in the notebook.
Let’s go back to music. You don’t let others write for you. Why?
It is not a matter of ego. It’s not because I think I can do better than anyone else. In fact, I don’t have the ability to make hits. I don’t like people writing for me because I want the things that I want to be clear. That’s why I let them make tracks for me, but what I sing, I’ve written it myself. I want to be myself.