Karol G talks about working with Nicki Minaj, Pop Smoke’s debut album


Come see me
Colombian music star Karol G found his inspiration in hip-hop.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2021 issue of XXL magazine, on the stands now.

Latino 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 passionate about hip-hop growing up. As her music career exploded, she was eager to collaborate with rappers. In 2017, Karol released his debut album twice platinum, unstoppable. The same year, she did a remix of her hit “Ahora Me Llama”, which included MigosQuavo. The record was a success, going 10 times platinum. Two years later, Karol released his massive hit “Tusa” featuring Nicki Minaj, which has gone platinum 35 times in the United States alone. More recently, Karol has collaborated with Ludacris on the track “Beautiful Boy”, taken from his 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 huge Eminem fan, but like, really bad. the Marshall mathers [LP], it’s my baby. I used to receive videos from my family in the United States. At school, I was in love with G-Unit and I had the posters and everything, the sneakers. When I was in school my name was Carolina, they called 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 need to have 50 cents 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 my participation in this song and it was crazy for me too.

Your video with Nicki for “Tusa” has over a billion views. What made you choose her for this song?

[In June], my label told me that with “Tusa” we have the # 3 most awarded song in the world. I never thought I could do a song with Nicki Minaj and that song was # 1 in the world. We started sharing posts on Instagram. She started following me, then we shared a few songs. We couldn’t find one that I liked and that she liked. But then I got “Tusa” and sent it to her and she loved it. His response was, “This is the shit I was looking for.” At the end of five hours, she sends me her verse. She recorded so fast. And after a month, we shot the video. Everything came like, super organic.

You recently worked with Ludacris. It’s on your album KG0516 featured on the song “Beautiful Boy”.

I was just watching videos on TikTok at night, then I watched a video of a girl. She was doing a cover of “Beautiful Girls” [by Sean Kingston]. So I took this video and sent it to my producer. And we made 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 I was like, “Hey, please, I need Ludacris on this song.” They put me on a video call with Ludacris. He said to me, “You know what, Karol? My kids are crazy about your song “Ocean”. And I was dying because Ludacris told me his kids loved my music.

Who are your favorite rappers right now?

I can say Pop Smoke, this album is crazy. J. Cole, with this last album. Duck is amazing too. I love him so much. I like Travis Scott. It’s not just about the music, it’s the creativity he has. He creates different brands. One thing I really admire about him is the way he creates an experience for everything.

Is there a rapper you would like to work with in the future?

I forgot to mention Kendrick Lamar. [He] fascinates me. I would like to work with Kendrick Lamar.

Discover more XXLthe summer 2021 issue of, including our Freshman Class Coverage interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Winnie the Pooh, Flo milli, Morray, Pink Ruby, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Thoughts from Nick Mira on Producing Freshman Class Rhythms, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask the Slump God on coming back this year, a look at what 2020 XXL First year class since last year, Moneybagg Yo’s candid talk about his new music, family and indie label, and more.

See the 2021 XXL First year class

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