La Escuela Nueva: Tiago PZK Shines In The Nascent Argentinian Hip-Hop Scene
Argentina has always had a significant role in the global music scene: It is one of the birthplaces of Tango, it is the home of legendary rock artists like Soda Stereo, and is an increasingly attractive international destination,
with AEG constructing a new state-of-the-art arena in Buenos Aires and the capital hosting Lollapalooza Argentina annually.
The country is also now the home of a blossoming hip-hop scene rooted in freestyle and drawing from influences of American rap and Reggaeton.
One rising star in this scene is 19-year-old Tiago PZK, originally from Monte Grande, Argentina, who came up through victories at freestyle competitions like BDM Battle of the Masters, God Level and Nike Battle Force.
Tiago told Pollstar he discovered hip-hop at the age of 10 after watching “8 Mile,” the movie starring Eminem based loosely on the rapper’s own backstory.
The artist said that film had a huge impact on him and all of his friends in the neighborhood, and soon they all began imitating B. Rabbit and practicing rapping in Spanish.
He started entering competitions at the age of 13, but didn’t immediately begin recording music, as competing in the emerging Argentinian freestyle scene forced him to focus on one thing: being able to rap at a high level indefinitely.
“In the U.S. the majority of the competitions usually include a lot of memorized lines that you write ahead of time to compete with the other artist. Here in Argentina, it is all improvised, 100%. From the first round to the last, you have to improvise all of it. You know who else is on the list to compete, but you do not know who you are going to face, someone else is arranging that. So you just have to be ready to rap against whoever,” Tiago PZK tells Pollstar.
“I started competing at 13, but I wrote my first song at 15. … They are different, but they are two beautiful experiences. Freestyle helps me write because I have so many words in my head, it really helps speed up the way I put songs together.”
And Tiago PZK is now learning from some of the Buenos Aires hip-hop scene’s brightest songwriters, as he recently signed management rights to a coalition of Mad Media Network – which runs one of the hottest studios in Buenos Aires – and Move Management, the new management arm of Phil Rodriguez’s Move Concerts.
Nicolas Cardigonde of Mad Media Network told Pollstar all the young people in Argentina are very aware of who is doing well in the freestyle competitions, and after working with Tiago in the studio it was clear he had a lot of potential and they wanted to deepen their relationship with him.
His partner in Mad Media Network, Mariano Borysiuk, told Pollstar: “We worked with him for about a year and we realized he was an artist with a lot of capacity, and the ability to work hard.
“There are so many possibilities for him, he just needs somebody to help him play the game. We’ve seen, with some of our studio clients, the artists are very poorly managed, and we didn’t want that for him.
“We are developing a factory here at Mad Media. There are already a lot of new artists at a base level, but who want to develop to become [like Tiago]. There are a ton of young artists with so much talent, and they are developing so quickly.”
The assessment of Tiago’s impact in Argentina isn’t overstatement. At 19 years old, coming from humble beginnings, his song “Sola” has been one of the most listened to songs in Argentina and Chile and has generated 20 million views on YouTube in just a few months.
The song tackles the social issue of domestic violence, and given the track’s impact, Tiago has been asked by the United Nations to participate in its campaign addressing
And Tiago is just one artist to make this kind of impact out of the Argentinian scene. Other Argentinian artists Cardigonde mentioned have been working at the studio include Wos, Nicky Nicole, Acru, Clan, Replik, Trueno and Asan.
What Mad brings in credibility with Argentinian artists and a connection to the source, Move Management brings in the ability to plug the artists into real, international business.
Sebastian Carlomagno, COO of Move Concerts and Move Management Argentina, told Pollstar Move aligned itself with Mad because they provide a valuable connection to the artists and Move can provide the infrastructure to touring and begin generating revenue, whenever business can begin to resume.
“Managing this new wave of Argentinian urban artists has a lot of potential for us.
This is a very special kind of music coming out of Argentina, rooted in the freestyle scene, and it is growing very quickly,” Carlomagno said. “And it’s not just Tiago, we are working with other artists … But with Tiago specifically, day-by-day his growth has been incredible.
“And its not just in Argentina, or in South America. Tiago is getting views in Spain, Mexico. He is already in the process of becoming an international artist.”
Argentina has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is unclear there, as it is in so many other parts of the world, when touring can resume.
But Carlomagno – who prior to Move worked with OCESA / CIE – knows what success in live entertainment looks like, and he is excited about the careers that lie ahead of Tiago and so many other young Argentinians, many of whom come from rough upbringings.
For his part, Tiago PZK told Pollstar he would love to go on tours and perform in arenas or stadiums someday, and to play at Lollapalooza Argentina would be a dream come true.
But a huge goal of his, personally, is to someday build his family a home and be able to take care of them. Tiago said he is grateful that music is creating these opportunities that just a few years ago were not there, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I have many dreams and goals,” Tiago told Pollstar. “And they will be accomplished. 100%.”
All quotes in this story have been translated into English by the author from the original Spanish.