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Peso Pluma Broke All the Barriers. Only He Knows Where He’s Going Next

He rocketed to superstardom with a signature brand of música mexicana. Now, can he navigate a new stratosphere of fame?

THE STREETS LEADING up to the Lab Studios, a recording complex in Miami’s lush Coconut Grove neighborhood, are full of bright, iridescent peacocks. Peso Pluma has set up a weeklong writing camp here in late January to work on his new album, which, he reveals later, is called Éxodo and will be out this summer. It’s almost too fitting that a bunch of decadent birds with stately, metallic feathers are sashaying down the pavement. After all, the Mexican artist, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, has blasted to global stardom by writing about things like heartbreak and romance — but his swaggering, streetwise songs about high-luxe, extravagant living are among his most popular. Today, he’s about to make a few more.

Through the doors, the studio feels like a tropical frat house, packed with polite, laid-back guys who might pass for regular twentysomethings, except that many of them are casually wearing diamond-dripped watches and gold chains heavy enough to cause neck injuries. Most are Peso’s bandmates — young but seasoned musicians who play bass, double bass, guitar, requinto (a smaller kind of guitar), trombone, and charchetas (alto horns), all instruments that define Peso’s particular brand of corridos tumbados.


Corridos tumbados are a strikingly modern version of corridos, folksy, narrative-driven ballads that have told some of Mexico’s most epic stories and reflected complex realities for more than 200 years. Traditional corridos — which play a big role in música mexicana, an umbrella term used to describe the many different genres within Mexican music — are often seen as old-school, honky-tonk soundtracks for grandparents. That changed in a big way around the mid-2010s, when a bunch of kids, including the then-17-year-old Natanael Cano, brought out their sharpest, prickliest guitars and started borrowing influences from trap and other forms of hip-hop. The result shaped the music for a hyper-online, genre-agnostic generation.

Peso followed shortly, and shot out of the pack, a skinny kid whose stage name literally means “featherweight.” Over the past few years, he’s added his own energetic style to the movement: His songs have emphasized chunky trombone lines and intricate guitar arrangements that set the stage for his spiky vocals — though he quickly showed he could go beyond this sound and slide into any style of music, from pop to reggaeton.

Right now, at the Lab Studios, his band is crowded into one of the recording rooms, listening to an early version of what could become his latest hit. Peso isn’t there as a maelstrom of opening brass notes charge out of the sound system. But within a few minutes, an unmistakable rasp, full of grain and grist, calls out “Hola!” It’s more of an announcement than a greeting, unique and barbed enough to tear a hole in the space-time continuum. Peso bounces in cheerfully, wearing a white T-shirt and blue basketball shorts, a black backward cap covering his signature mullet. He eyes his producer’s computer and nods along to the track for a bit. Then, in a flash, he’s gone.

For the next few hours, Peso bobs around like a ball of electricity, bursting into different rooms and jumping onto different songs. When I find him a little while later, he’s thrashing away on a guitar, demonstrating an idea to some of the best songwriters in all of música mexicana. There’s Edgar Barrera, the 33-year-old producer and songwriter who was nominated for 22 Latin Grammys in the past two years alone. Nearby is Alexis “El Chachito” Fierro, a witty, jovial writer who helped Peso with “Lady Gaga,” a supersmash he recorded with Mexican newcomers Gabito Ballesteros and Junior H, full of lyrics about champagne-topped excesses.

Peso has finished most of a corrido that he wrote on his own, but he wants to develop it a little more. “Maybe we can add a pre-chorus or something,” he suggests, fiddling with the guitar. He sings what he has so far, and his voice, in all of its rich peculiarity, fills the space. His tone is so unvarnished and raw, it can be either grating or captivating, depending on the listener. Overwhelmingly, people are drawn to it. “It doesn’t sound like any other voice in the industry,” Barrera says. “When you hear him, you know immediately that it’s Peso Pluma singing.”

That voice was everywhere last year. In March, he joined forces with the Mexican American band Eslabon Armado for “Ella Baila Sola,” a googly-eyed ode to a pretty girl on the dance floor that became the first música mexicana song to reach Number One on Spotify’s Global chart and to crack the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (Rolling Stone named it the best song of 2023). At one point on the track, Peso bleats out “Bella!” with such force that it spawned TikTok challenges and tons of impersonations. Next was “Bzrp Music Sessions Vol. 55,” part of a popular YouTube freestyle-type series, which scored Peso a second Number One on Spotify’s Global chart. Then Génesis, his breakthrough album, debuted at Number Three on the Billboard 200 in April — the highest-charting regional Mexican album ever.

A bunch of wild milestones followed: In September 2023, Peso and his bandmates became the first música mexicana act to perform at the VMAs. He beat out Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, and everybody else in the world to become the year’s most-viewed artist on YouTube. He ducked in and out of studios with some of his rap heroes — A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott, among them. And then, in February, he won his first Grammy, taking home a trophy for Best Música Mexicana Album, capping the night with a couple of photos alongside Jay-Z. In between, there have been billions of streams, collaborations with everyone from Becky G to Anitta to Kali Uchis, and sold-out stadiums across the whole of the planet.

Part of the appeal is that, unlike many música mexicana artists of the past, Peso traded cowboy boots and sombreros for high-end sneakers and baseball caps, looking more like an iced-out rapper than a Mexican crooner. Add an idiosyncratic Eighties-style mullet, one so distinct that kids in Mexico have started asking for the Peso Pluma haircut, and you have the most daring ambassador of corridos tumbados, rewriting the genre’s rules. “I’m proud to wave my flag up high and to be the first to do a lot of things — to be able to show my roots and where we’re from and what we like to listen to and what we do,” Peso says.

Outfit by VERSACE. Eyewear by CARTIER. Necklaces by VENEDA CARTER. Gloves by WING + WEFT GLOVES.

His live performances are a big part of the draw, too. Onstage, Peso is hyperactive, unconstrained, explosive: He’ll stomp his feet and jump up and down, scrunching up his face into impish expressions that fans have immortalized through memes and GIFs. “The first time I saw him perform, on a stage, even in a practice, I was blown away by the charisma that he had,” his manager, George Prajin, tells me. “I always told everybody, ‘This is the Mexican Mick Jagger.’”

CORRIDOS HAVE HAD a long, complicated, and controversial history. Since the Mexican Revolution, these ballads have narrated bloody, violent battles and laid out tales of corruption and poverty. Their genealogical tree includes narcocorridos, a subgenre that emerged in the Sixties and rose in the Eighties, filled with unflinching stories about Mexico’s drug trade. Even as cartel violence has spiraled in the country, many narcocorridos have been written as tributes to criminal leaders and cartel lords, praising their criminal exploits and memorializing them in song. Younger corridos tumbados artists haven’t shied away from some of these traditions, a little like blending Johnny Cash with N.W.A. Like many corrido singers before them, they’ve drawn scrutiny, even anger, accused of glorifying guns, violence, and the gruesome realities of the drug war.

Peso often sings about impressing girls with flashy cars and packing diamond-studded guns to ward off haters, but some of his earlier collaborations have name-checked cartels and shadowy figures in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Those lyrics have led to not just criticism but threats as well: Last fall, ahead of his concert in Tijuana, several banners appeared throughout the city: “This is for you, Peso Pluma. Don’t show up on Oct. 14 because it will be your last performance.” They were signed by the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, a rival to the Sinaloa Cartel, seemingly angry at the shout-outs in Peso’s music.

His team canceled the show and kept moving, continuing his tour in other parts of the world. But the pace and the pressure is undeniably intense, particularly for an artist carving out a tricky, polarizing path that has never quite existed before. Despite the fact that Mexico shares a border with the U.S., few Mexican artists — much less ones making música mexicana — have blown up in the pop mainstream this way. (From Ritchie Valens to Selena, many major crossover stars typically associated with Mexican sounds have been born in the U.S.) Where Peso goes next is uncharted territory.

Outfit by LU’U DAN. Eyewear by GENTLE MONSTER, Bracelets by CARTIER and TIFFANY & CO.

“I’m grateful to my people and to fans who supported me because they’re the ones that have put us on the charts and everything else,” he explains. “But I don’t see this as a competition or about position or about places we’ve reached. I think it’s not just Peso Pluma that reached Number One — it’s Mexican music that made this happen.”

It’s easy to forget that Peso is only 24 — and though his straight shot to fame took a lot of work, it happened fast. He has a lot to balance, and there are points when we meet over the course of a month that he seems exhausted by everything. He can be quiet and taciturn, almost drained by the sheer act of talking. Other times, like at the Lab Studios, he’s upbeat, delighting in the euphoria of creating something entirely new, of making songs no one has imagined before.

Peso joins his band in the recording room to check out the progress of the horn-filled song. The creative process is testament to the intricacy of recording música mexicana: No one is making a beat on a computer or synthesizer. Instead, each member of the seven-piece band perfects complex arrangements for every track, then records their part individually. Some songs are labored over for days and don’t even make the album. For Génesis, Peso tells me, he recorded about 40 songs and used 17. Still, he seems happy with this one: He breaks into a wiry little dance fans might recognize, throwing his arms into the air.

He makes his way back to the songwriters room. On his way, he asks Valeria Murrillo, who does artist relations and management at Prajin Parlay, if she can bring tequila and shot glasses to the room. Then he sits, going line by line, working enthusiastically on the corrido he’d played them earlier. Barrera says later that the studio time with Peso felt special: “I’ve never been in a writing camp where the energy was so, so, so high.”

“The delivery is here,” Murrillo announces after a while, walking in with a hand-painted bottle of Clase Azul tequila. The room fills with cheers as the bottle is sloshed around, tequila spilling out of shot glasses. Someone asks me if I want one, and I politely turn it down. Peso whips around with a giant grin on his face and points at me.

Siiii, Rolling Stone,” he singsongs in his signature croon. In seconds, I have a glass in my hand.

Then Peso stands up in the middle of the room and starts to speak. “Tonight, we’re making history with two songs that are really epic,” he says. “Thanks to my compa Chachito, my compa Oscar, who are here. To Julia, to everyone who’s part of this album — Ivan, Edgar. You guys know. Thanks to everyone, hay que echarle chingasos.” Roughly translated, it means, “Let’s kick some ass.”

Everyone lifts up their drink. “Salud!

“What was the dead guy missing?” Fierro yells.

Salud!” everyone repeats gleefully. The tequila goes down burning, and a few people clear their throats with a united “Ahh!

“This is a Covid cure,” Fierro cracks, and Peso looks at me for a second, his eyes dancing.

“‘They drank a Covid cure,’” he jokes, narrating what he thinks I’ll write in the story. “Which means ‘tequila shot.’”

Outfit by LOUIS VUITTON. Necklaces by VENEDA CARTER.

The musicians crack up, and within seconds, they’ve thrown themselves back into the new song, which is suddenly faster, more celebratory, and more animated than it was earlier. The guitars sound more powerful, and Peso’s voice rings out loudest, his enthusiasm palpable.

By 10 p.m., the neighborhood peacocks are probably curled in the trees, fast asleep. But the studio lights are on, and the entire building is practically quaking from the exuberant blast of horns that keeps going on and on.

THE NEXT DAY, Peso is sitting at a table outside of the studio, staring at his phone, bleary-eyed. The energy is a little more lethargic than the day before, probably because the guys didn’t go home until 2 a.m. Peso lists everywhere he has to go next: New York, Mexico, L.A. (he lives in Orange County). He has a tour announcement to plan, a bunch of awards-show appearances, plus the album, which he’s been trying to get done whenever he can. “Wherever I keep going, I keep advancing it little by little,” he says. It’s a reminder of how much he has to get done.

Elsewhere, the space has been replenished with more manpower: Tito “Double P” Laija, Hassan’s cousin and one of his closest confidants, is nearby, already brainstorming a new song. He’s quiet and serious, sitting with the rest of the guys to come up with lyrics.

Trench coat by LU’U DAN

Funny enough, Peso didn’t actually know Tito very well growing up. Tito was born in Culiacán, Peso in Guadalajara. Peso describes himself as an active kid with a short attention span, obsessed with soccer and Spider-Man. His mom, a makeup artist, was often working, so he would stay home a lot, eventually teaching himself to play guitar by watching YouTube tutorials. He loved artists like Chalino Sanchez, the “King of Corridos” and rumored cartel hitman, whose gritty ballads made him an enduring star before he was assassinated after a concert in Mexico at age 31. Peso was also a fan of Ariel Camacho, the Mexican singer who’d started gaining traction in the U.S. before his career was cut short in a fatal car accident in 2015.

As a teenager, Peso spent time in the U.S., briefly attending high school in Texas. He was always into hip-hop and idolized rappers like Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (he has an “All Eyez on Me” tattoo on his chest in homage to Tupac). All of those influences filtered into songs he started writing and would play for friends at parties. “I never had a teacher for guitar or for singing. The only teachers I can call teachers were my friends. Basically we’d get together and drink and sing as friends to have a good time,” he says. “It was more doing covers, but I started developing. That’s how I found my style, my voice — playing with friends.”

Around the time he turned 20, he decided to move to Culiacán, in northwest Mexico, by himself to make it as a musician. He played a lot of private parties and wrote his own songs. Through a few shared acquaintances, he came across Tito, who’d also become a musician and a songwriter. “We started talking more about how we’re cousins and ‘How’s the family?’ and all that shit, and how cool it was that we were both making music,” Peso says. “He was doing it more as a hobby, and I was doing it more to earn a buck because that’s how I’d eat. I didn’t have another job.”

Working with Tito unlocked something. “When I met Tito, that was the musical support I was missing, and we started talking about doing something together,” Peso remembers. It took several months, but eventually, Tito sent him about 30 songs through Voice Notes. One of them was “El Belicon,” which translates to “The Fighter” or “The Belligerent One.” Peso responded to it immediately. The song’s guitar melodies are pretty mellow. In the lyrics, however, Peso and featured artist Raul Vega flaunt their collection of “minimis, basukas, y Kalashnikovs,” or “machine guns, bazookas, and Kalashnikov rifles.” The video takes it further, showing them running around with masks and rifles. “El Belicon” took off locally, then ballooned even bigger, becoming Peso’s first song to land on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs and going eight-times platinum. It was a turning point. “When we made that song, that’s when I saw that his style with my style was the key to get us noticed,” Peso says.

The cousins caught the attention of a manager named Herminio Morales, though after he fell ill for some time, he asked Prajin to take on Peso. Prajin jumped on the opportunity, but not without fully evaluating the scope of Peso’s abilities first. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, [managing] athletes, artists. I had my kind of insecurities about working with another artist and putting everything into them. So, you know, I tested him a little bit.” Prajin had Peso learn Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” on guitar and record it in English. “I saw that he trusted me. And when I saw that, I said, ‘I’m going all in with this kid,’” Prajin says. (People are still urging him to release the cover, but Prajin says he promised Peso he could make that call.)

Peso and Prajin saw the way reggaeton stars had achieved critical mass by teaming up and releasing major collaborations. Peso started recording with virtually everyone, releasing song after song: “PRC” with Cano, “La Bebe” with Yng Lvcas, “Igualito a Mi Apá” with Fuerza Regida, “Chanel” with Becky G.

In no small part because of these efforts, música mexicana exploded. It fits into the larger story of Latin music, which generated $1 billion in 2022 and has continued outpacing the rest of the music industry. Música mexicana has spurred its own growth: On Spotify, streams have more than tripled since 2019, and five of the genre’s artists made Spotify’s Top 50 global artists. Leading the charge was Peso, whom people streamed 9 billion times in 2023 alone. Corridos tumbados artists have started appearing on the major festival circuit; Cano played Coachella in 2022, and after a surprise cameo during Becky G’s set last year, Peso has an afternoon slot this year.

Still, the genre’s associations with drugs and violence have been tough to shake. As corridos tumbados have gotten more popular, they’ve also been publicly denounced by Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who said at a press conference last summer, “We are not going to keep quiet when they say that ecstasy is good and that they have a 50 caliber gun, and that their idols are the most famous narcos, and that kind of corridos.” In November, authorities in Tijuana cracked down on narcocorridos, issuing a ban that affects corridos tumbados as well. The new law says that any artist who “transmits, exhibits, sings, or reproduces music, videos, images, or any other similar thing that promotes the culture of violence or makes apologies for crime or for the authors of illegal acts in a live performance” could be subject to fines of up to $57,000.

But many of the songwriters in the genre see it as just another form of storytelling. “You can’t censor it, because how do you censor what’s happening?” Barrera says. “You’re going to see it on the news, which talks about this every day. Corridos have always been about storytelling and what’s happening on the streets.”

Prajin often compares the genre to hip-hop, which was also reviled by many when it was reaching the mainstream. “The reality is that they’re entertainers, right? And they’re singing songs, and their songs mirror what people live on a daily basis. There’s good things in the world and there’s bad things in the world,” Prajin says. “All Hassan does is, he’s an interpreter.”

If you ask him now, he says his music is just a mix of real-life experiences and what he’s feeling. “It’s a blend of stuff that occurs to me, what comes to my mind and what I want to capture. I’ve always said that music works for me as a kind of therapy. It’s a lot of stuff that people don’t talk about,” he says. (He declined to comment further on the controversy surrounding his lyrics.) During the writing camp, lyrics about carrying weapons and being armed came up nonchalantly and from all as they discussed what would work best for certain songs.

Still, the criticism does seem to weigh on Peso. He’s already thinking about Éxodo as more of a direct response to the negative press that seems to surround him. “[On Génesis] people already saw the good side, the superhero side. But I think this year, they’re going to know a darker side,” he tells me cryptically. “There’s going to be a lot of things about why we do what we do, and why we sing what we do, why people pit us against each other, why media always look for bad things, why people focus more on the negatives than the positives.”

I ask him why he thinks people focus on the negative side of his career. “I don’t know,” he says with a shrug. “I think it’s 10 times more convenient for the media to have bad news than good news. People talk more about the bad stuff than the good stuff.” Has he learned to block it out? “No, it’s not easy, but I think day to day, I’m learning to not give a shit about everything, you know? And to just do what I like. If they like it, good. And if they don’t like it, again, good.”

Back at the Lab Studios in Miami, everyone is hard at work. Peso has been directing the whole show, but for a few minutes, he lingers outside, hanging out with his bandmates, smoking a joint.

A few minutes later, his tour manager comes up to him and shares that two reggaeton producers have arrived at the studio to show him a few tracks. Peso gets up and makes his way into a side studio to meet them. About half an hour later, they’re blasting some of a track they’ve just created, with Peso’s voice front and center. Some of his bandmates waiting outside the room nod along. About an hour or two later, the producers leave and Peso ambles out of the room, like he didn’t just make a new song. Even so, there’s way more to do, more corridos to write. 

A FEW WEEKS LATER, in late January, Peso is back in California. He’s just arrived at Prajin’s studio in Anaheim, and greets his manager quickly. He shows him a video that he’s about to post on Instagram, one he took driving down a freeway in new sneakers. Prajin looks it over carefully, making sure nothing in it — including the speed limit, visible in one frame — will get Peso in trouble.

Prajin and Peso have an airtight relationship. Prajin tells me he sees Peso as a son, while Peso often talks about his endless appreciation for his manager. “Thank God I fell into good hands in this industry,” he says. “George is a good man, a businessman, and it’s not because of the work relationship we have, but because he wants the best for me and takes care of me above everything.”

It’s one reason they decided to become business partners and launch Peso’s own label, Double P Records. The popularity of música mexicana has meant a lot of new artists, many of them teenagers, have signed contracts incredibly quickly. In recent years, some of them have revealed publicly that they were unhappy with their agreements. Cano, for example, ranted on Instagram Live about wanting to own his own music, while the singer Gerardo Ortiz sued his label for fraud.

Peso launched Double P with Prajin as a partner last year. He announced he’d be taking the helm as CEO and head of A&R. “It’s a known thing that in the Mexican industry and the businesses that are the most well-known and famous at the moment, the truth is they haven’t done things for their artists,” Peso tells me. “There were strange contracts that were just sketchy as fuck. What we want to do is, from the beginning, make the whole thing super transparent.”

One of his first signees was the musician Jasiel Nuñez. (Peso, who co-curated Rolling Stone’s Future 25, selected Nuñez for the list, calling him a phenomenal artist and praising his way of writing.) Nuñez describes Peso as “a really, really good person with a big heart,” and says signing with Double P changed his life. “It’s also made me a better person, because I’m with good people — we’re a team, we’re a family.”

Prajin sees the label as one way Peso will stand out as a force in the industry. “He’s going to have a very long career, especially as an executive in the business, as an A&R or a record-label owner. He’s going to be a Jay-Z.” It’s one reason he’s been working with Peso so closely. “What’s he going to do if I’m not here? So he needs to learn how to run his business and how to protect himself.”

In front of the studio, Prajin and Peso catch up for a few more minutes. Then Peso climbs into a black van, heading toward downtown L.A. He’s got a packed day of photo and video shoots, and he seems a little preoccupied: He wants to light a blunt, but one of his assistants — a friend since high school — forgot a lighter, so members of his team are trying to locate a gas station to get him one. Peso puffs on a vape in the meantime and asks the driver to let him connect his phone to play some music. Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” starts blasting through the car speakers.

He’s had a couple of days off at home in Orange County. Usually when he’s off, he’s holed up in his game room, playing his PlayStation and smoking weed. Other times, he’s bingeing movies. He recently went through a few Disney films, like Lilo & Stitch and Ratatouille.

He’s been getting closer to finishing the LP. “I want it to be a surprise for everyone. I’m focusing on fine-tuning all the details, but there’s going to be a lot of flavors, not only of regional Mexican music,” he says. “From the beginning, I’ve liked doing things to get out of my comfort zone. I know everything goes great with corridos, but I also don’t pass up opportunities to do other stuff I like.” He singles out “Igual Que Un Ángel,” the Kali Uchis disco-pop song he jumped on recently. “I couldn’t have imagined doing the type of genre I did with Kali, but I think it’s a chance to show what Mexicans are made of and what we can do.”

Already, he’s shown what he can do in a few places. His favorite show of all time is the one he played at El Foro Sol, a giant stadium in Mexico City, followed by a homecoming he had in Guadalajara and a massive gig in Argentina. “I never plan anything. It’s just about getting on that stage, enjoying what I’m doing, loosening up as much as possible,” he says. “I don’t like that twinge of ‘I could have done it better. I could have done this. I could have done that.’”

Still, his larger-than-life onstage persona feels so different from the quiet, more-chill 24-year-old in the van, something I observe aloud. He seems to shrug off the idea at first, replying, “There’s moments to have fun with your friends, and other moments you have to be more serious.” But then he considers his answer a little more and goes on. “I also feel like I’m a little fragmented, and it’s part of the multiple personalities I have.” I ask him which of his many personalities feels closer to who he is. “I don’t know,” he says. “All my team can tell you that every day, [for] five minutes, I can be the happiest person. Then in the next five minutes, I transform into something wild.” He smiles, half-joking.

What he’s more serious about is seeing his achievements as part of a whole: as an accomplishment for Mexico, as a success for his genre. Yet there’s a kind of figurehead role he’s taken on, one that was obvious when he was at the writing camp, guiding a dozen musicians and songwriters. He thinks about this for a second. “I don’t consider myself a normal person,” he says after a while. I chuckle a little and ask him what he means. “I’m crazy. I’m not saying that as a joke,” he continues seriously. “Mentally, I’m crazy — the ideas I have, the songs we do. But I think craziness is part of genius.”

But crazy how? “I don’t know how to explain it, I can’t tell you,” he says. Finally, he offers, “It’s like a sickness we have. I say it’s a sickness. All of us who are the big guys have it, and we don’t even know it. And sometimes we’re crazy, and that craziness makes us genuine and authentic. We’re all crazy in different ways.”

That craziness has been pulling Peso into all corners of the pop-culture world, even leading to offers in Hollywood: “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make movies and TV shows, and big ones.” But he’s turned them down; he says he has a hard time sitting in one place and imagines he’d be impatient as people are changing camera lenses and setups. “Even in my videos, the directors already know that the most I’ll stick around is three hours, maximum four. The people I’m collaborating with will sometimes stay later than me,” he says. (He admits, a little shyly, that there’s one other project he wouldn’t mind pursuing: “I’d do Narcos Mexico if they do another season.”)

As hectic as Peso’s entry into fame has been the past year, his world really seems to move in fast-forward in February, following his Grammy win. His relationship with the Argentine singer Nicki Nicole ends publicly (After the breakup, Peso declined to comment on the relationship). He cancels a headlining set in Viña del Mar, Chile. Then the tabloids run wild with a story about how he’s checked himself into a mental-health/rehabilitation facility in Mexico.

In the middle of all the gossip, Peso shuts down the rumors, revealing that he’s actually just been hanging out in the studio in California. “Well, the last few weeks have been really crazy,” he tells me in early March, his voice light. “People are always going to have something to say about what I’m doing and creating their own narrative. But the reality is, all these days, I’ve been in the studio working on Éxodo.

He catches me up on some other big moments that happened during the madness. The Grammy win, he says, was “surreal;” the Jay-Z encounter was just as surprising. “I was in shock, to be honest. I didn’t know what to say. I started stuttering. I told him he was an inspiration and an idol. It was crazy to hear him turn around and look at me and say, ‘Keep doing your thing.’ It’s something that stuck with me, and it’s something I’m going to keep doing — the music I love.”

He’d told me in L.A. he had one more dream he’d been kicking around: He’s been in talks for a series about his life, something capturing how unbelievable, intense, and extraordinary his whole journey has been. He thinks this is something he’ll do later in his career, but he’s determined to see it through. “Dead or alive, I’m going to leave that finished,” he promises.

That’s just one goal he has for now. If the past year is any evidence, Peso will probably make it happen. But before sharing more, he has to get out of the van. He’s been sitting still too long, and he needs to keep moving.

Production Credits

Produced by RHIANNA RULE for PALM PRODUCTIONS. Photography direction by EMMA REEVES. Styling by ANASTASIA WALKER. Hair/Barber: DAVID THOMAS. Grooming by DANI PEREZ. Videographer BRIANNA DEVONS. Video Interview Editor: KIM HOYOS. BTS Video Editor: SASHA FOX. Line Producer: XAVIER HAMEL. Production assistance by IXTEL GARCIA and PETER GIANG. Lighting Direction by SEBASTIAN JOHNSON. Photographic assistance by LANCE WILLIAMS. Digital Technician: RENEE DODGE. Styling assistance by CONRAD GYURAS. Studio: HUBBLE STUDIO. Post Production by DALLAS WING.