Nicki Nicole Plans to Put What’s ‘Happening To Me Personally’ Into New Music
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Nicki Nicole Plans to Put What’s ‘Happening To Me Personally’ Into New Music

In February, Nicki Nicole was scheduled to perform in Miami for the first time as part of the Vibra Urbana Festival. But as torrential rain pummeled the 86-acre open-air festival grounds, one artist’s performance was canceled, and others had their sets cut short. Nicki waited anxiously in the wings for nearly three hours, until it came down to her to open the festival when the rain abated for a few minutes. 

Wearing a black cutout bodysuit, blue and white motocross pants and her new, light chocolate hair (which she first rocked at the 2024 Grammy Awards) draping over a black headband, the 23-year-old Argentine artist, joined by eight background dancers, performed a 35-minute set that included hits such as “Colocao,” “DISPARA***” and “Una Foto (Remix)” — the collaboration with Mesita, Emilia and Tiago PZK that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100 chart in January and spent six consecutive weeks at the top. 

Then it started to rain again — but the response from the soaking-wet crowd was still overwhelming. 

“It was very surprising,” an ebullient Nicki says after, still wearing her damp clothes. “With this day, the rain, to see all these people there, and they know all my songs, they’re having a blast — it’s just like I imagined it could be.” Despite the rain, it’s a moment of sunshine for Nicki, who is coming off a roller-coaster week during which she publicly hinted on social media that she and boyfriend Peso Pluma called it quits just five days before her Miami debut. 


But Peso is not the topic of conversation as we chat backstage outside Nicki’s trailer, where former Argentine soccer star Maxi Rodriguez has also come to support her show. Her Miami premiere is a big deal for Nicki, and her mother, sister and two brothers are also in town from Argentina for the concert. She says they’re planning to go to Disney World the next day to celebrate.

While this may be Nicki’s first time in Miami, the rapper-singer has been making inroads in the market since April 2019, when she released her debut single, “Wapo Traketero.” That August, she made history on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100 by becoming the first Argentine female rapper to debut on the chart as a solo act. (Cazzu charted first, in July, but as a collaborator on J. Mena’s “Quien Empezó.”) The following year, she made history again, becoming the first Argentine woman to earn a No. 1 with her collaboration on Trueno’s “Mamichula,” which also features Taiu, Bizarrap and Tatool. 

Performing a fusion of rap and R&B — but expanding her versatility to other genres like reggaetón and cumbia — Nicki Nicole takes a feminine but edgy approach that paved the way for a new generation of Argentine urban acts — such as Emilia and Maria Becerra — who now also dominate the country’s charts and are playing arenas. 

Nicki is tied with Emilia for the second-most No. 1s (both with four), trailing only Becerra, with six. “Entre Nosotros (Remix),” a collaboration with Tiago PZK, Lit Killah and Becerra, topped the chart for 16 weeks, the second-most behind Karol G and Nicki Minaj’s “Tusa,” which ruled for 25. 

While Nicki’s dominance in Argentina is established — she played the last of nine sold-out shows at Buenos Aires’ Movistar Arena on March 10 — her goal now is to go global. She’ll play Madrid’s WiZink Center for the first time on March 21, after headlining Billboard’s inaugural Encuentro de Música en Español on March 19, and will wrap her ALMA tour at the Estéreo Picnic Festival in Bogota, Colombia, on March 24. 

The trek — which began in August in Buenos Aires and stopped in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Bolivia, among other countries — is in support of her ultra-personal album, ALMA, that thrives on emotions, spirituality, reason and an awakening to self-love. It was nominated for best rap/hip-hop album at the 2023 Latin Grammys, and the track “DISPARA***,” with Milo J, was up for best rap/hip-hop song. 

In the middle of it all, Nicki also publicly addressed her relationship with Peso Pluma after a video of him appearing to hold hands with another woman in Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend surfaced on social media. “Respect is a necessary part of love,” she posted Feb. 13 on Instagram, where Nicki has over 21 million followers. “What is loved, is respected. What is respected, is cared for. When you are not cared for and there is no respect, I don’t stay there. I leave. It is with great sorrow that I found out the same way you did, thank you for the love you are sending me.” 

Nicki Nicole photographed on February 18, 2024 at Vibra Urbana in Miami.
Nicki Nicole photographed on February 18, 2024 at Vibra Urbana in Miami.

The flurry of fan comments, mostly in support of her, highlighted her other side: the singer as social media personality who must focus on her art amid intense public scrutiny. For someone as young as Nicki, she has managed to do so with surprising grace. 

“The truth is that I felt that everything was so public that I couldn’t have done it any other way. People already knew it and it was uncontrollable,” Nicki says, explaining why she posted a reaction. “What has healed me the most these days are the people, my fans. I received many messages from women congratulating me on the message I sent,” she says, sounding laid-back and self-assured. 

While someone else might have canceled a performance or, in this case, an interview, Nicki did not. 

“It’s unprofessional of me to stop every time something personal happens,” she says. “I’m not the center of the world, and there are many people who work for me and with me. I can’t stop everything. My team doesn’t deserve it. My fans don’t deserve it.”

Nicole Denise Cucco hails from Rosario, Argentina, the birthplace of soccer star Lionel Messi. Her interest in music sparked from a childhood admiration for Amy Winehouse, who she looked up to for her soulful, R&B-tinged vocals, as well as her character, resilience and how she treated fans. 

“Not only did I empathize with how difficult it is to be an artist but also the internal battles of each person,” Nicki says. “I realized that even though she could be in shambles, she went out to perform, she did interviews, she was with her fans. From her I learned that every person I meet I will always treat them as they deserve and will always give my fans the attention they need.” 

Nicki Nicole photographed on February 18, 2024 at Vibra Urbana in Miami.

The youngest of four children (she has two brothers and one sister), Nicki was always the performer at home. “When I was little, I would put on shows in my kitchen and force everyone to look at me singing with the broomstick,” she told Billboard in 2022 during an episode of Growing Up

Nicki’s mother expected her youngest daughter to finish school and go to college, but she had other plans. 

“I explained to her, ‘Mom, look, I really want to make music. I know what I’m proposing is crazy because I’m one in a million who wants to make music, but I really feel that I can make it work, and if I have your support, I can do it,’ ” she recalls. Her mother agreed, and Nicki switched to night school to record music during the day. 

She had fallen in love with the more melodic style of Spanish rapper Delaossa, whose music “encouraged me to make bars and freestyles,” and as a teenager, she practiced her freestyling skills at the many impromptu contests held in her hometown. 

However, she found the male-dominated scene challenging. 

“I would go in, but it was hard,” she remembers. She found that men would edit or change their raps when she was around. “When a man freestyled against a woman, a lot of things were lost — like being able to play with words, being able to say incredible things — and it fell into the basics. I lost a little interest because I felt my rhymes [couldn’t evolve]. So, I decided to freestyle with my friends, to evolve with people who I can rap about the culture, about what happens to me, about the fact that I am a woman — and it helped me a lot to start doing it alone, too.” 

Nicki Nicole photographed on February 18, 2024 at Vibra Urbana in Miami.

In April 2019, Nicki launched her YouTube channel with her debut single, “Wapo Traketero” — a slow R&B track fronted by her tender vocals. It was the song’s melodic approach that ultimately helped her stand out in a crowd of emerging Argentine rap and trap artists at the time. 

“I always think about my mentality then and now. At that moment I didn’t know if a song was doing well or bad. For me, it just meant that people liked it and shared it,” she says. “I didn’t know about No. 1s, I didn’t know about charts, I didn’t know about trends. My mentality in music was different. When I started, I didn’t think I had to make hits. I just loved releasing the songs.”

“Wapo Traketero” caught the attention of Duki, who was then leading the Argentine trap scene and who boasted about her to his label, Dale Play Records, founded by Federico Lauria in 2018. 

“Duki posted about Nicki on social media, writing, ‘We have a new boss in town,’ ” Lauria told Billboard in 2020 of how he discovered her. “When I listened to her music, I went crazy and wanted to sign her immediately.” Lauria, who launched Dale Play with Duki, added Nicki and producer Bizarrap to his roster. (He also manages all of them.) “All these artists come from the same place — the streets — but they’re all doing something different,” he added. 

Nicki struck a chord. At 4 feet 9 inches, she defied the stereotype of the female Latin rapper and of what women in the local music scene could do. 

Almost immediately after her signing, Nicki scored her first Billboard chart entry in 2020 with “Mamichula” in collaboration with Trueno and Bizarrap. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100, leading for four weeks, and became her first entry on the Billboard Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S. charts. That same year, she scored her first Latin Grammy nomination, for best new artist. 

Overall, Nicki has placed 33 entries on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100, tying with Karol G for the second-most among women behind Maria Becerra’s 46. Out of those 33, nine hit the top 10 and four reached No. 1. 

On the U.S. charts, “Pa’ Mis Muchachas,” with Christina Aguilera and Becky G and featuring Nathy Peluso, earned Nicki her first top 10 when it debuted at No. 3 on Latin Digital Song Sales in 2021. “Ella No Es Tuya,” with Rochy RD and Myke Towers, became her first Hot Latin Songs entry, and her second album, Parte de Mí, was her debut on Latin Pop Albums that same year. 

“All you need to do is see her live in concert to fully understand the impact Nicki has on people,” Lauria tells Billboard. “The artistic flight she has and her musical talent make her unique — how she goes through people, her sensitivity, her lyricism. This was all enhanced with her latest album, ALMA, where she was able to open up from a more sensitive place. And it clearly shows with the success that her tour is having.” 

Back inside her trailer at the Vibra Urbana Festival, a cool and collected Nicki is snacking on chips and a banana — as Ivy Queen performs onstage in the background. The Puerto Rican diva’s set followed Nicki’s at the festival, which is fitting, as she has been a major inspiration. 

“When I started music, one of the first women who offered me advice was Ivy,” Nicki recalls. “I loved what she said because it is unforgettable — like, ‘Mami, I want you to know that everything you do and the place you have, you earned it by yourself. And here you have a place as a woman. We fought so that you have this place.’ ”

Nicki Nicole photographed on February 18, 2024 at Vibra Urbana in Miami.

The first woman artist to support an up-and-coming Nicki Nicole, however, was Cazzu. The artist born Julieta Emilia Cazzuchelli (and partner of Christian Nodal) became a household name in Argentina in 2018 after gaining momentum from “Loca (Remix)” with Khea, Bad Bunny and Duki. Nicki’s first time onstage was at a Cazzu concert and her first female collaboration was “Cómo Dímelo,” in 2019, with Cazzu. 

“When a new woman appears, the patriarchal construction of the public makes them first compare us and then make enemies of us,” Cazzu says. “She was going to shine with or without me, but I was the only woman there. I let her know that she could count on me inside and outside of music because I had to go through endless sexist and misogynistic experiences. That hurt my spirits, and I didn’t want her to go through that. That’s what the movement is about. That one of us cleared the weeds from the path so that others could walk better and waste less time fighting and put it into music.” 

That first expression of female support later appeared in other powerful collaborations with female artists from different countries and styles, including “Pa’ Mis Muchachas” with Christina Aguilera, Becky G and Nathy Peluso; “intoxicao” with Emilia; “Formentera” with Aitana; “8 AM” with Young Miko; and “Enamórate” with Bad Gyal. 

“I love the woman who does not envy, who does not compete, who wants the best for everyone,” Nicki says. “One of the messages that really stuck with me is that of Young Miko. She was over the moon. She was having a big, explosive moment, and yet she flew to record the music video for ‘8 AM’ and sent me a message that said, ‘If we succeed, we all succeed together.’ What I like most is working with women, because in the studio we flow a lot, we share similar feelings and life situations that we understand among ourselves, and that’s great when it comes to working together.” 

Beyond being a loyal girl’s girl, Nicki’s bold attitude and stage presence have organically earned her the respect of the music industry and fans globally. 

In addition to her eight Latin Grammy nominations, she won female new artist at the 2021 Premio Lo Nuestro, performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in April 2021 and made her debut at Coachella in 2022. Most recently, on March 5 during Paris Fashion Week, she appeared as a Lacoste brand ambassador. 

After her sold-out show in Madrid, she’ll play Barcelona and, later, Mexico. Once she’s done with touring, Nicki promises to spend more time in the recording studio rather than on the road. 

“Right now, I feel like there are a lot of things that are happening to me personally and I want to put them into music,” she says without elaborating. “There’s a lot of inspiration,” she adds with a smile. 

By now, inside her trailer, she has progressed from snacks to a shot of whiskey, and Nicki raises her glass. “For my first concert in Miami and for my first Billboard cover. ¡Salud!’” 

Nicki Nicole Billboard Espanol Digital Cover


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