From a young age, Baobao has always dreamed of becoming a professional musician one day. Now, she’s checking it out.
The 26-year-old singer, born Paula Nicole Marrero Rodriguez, has been working behind the scenes for some time, writing for artists like CNCO and Chiquis, and her song “Ticket de Salida” earned her a Latin Grammy Award. These days, she’s making her name known as an artist with her latest song “algo así (remix)” featuring Mora and Bad Bunny in a shriek in support of her music.
Paopao grew up living between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with a psychiatrist father and a physician father. While most of her family members were working in the medical field, her passion for music led her to study at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where she majored in writing and media production and earned a master’s degree in music business. She told TODAY via Zoom that her school education is a big part of her journey as an artist.
“When I was a kid, the music I remember listening to growing up was a very singer-songwriter. A lot of them were Puerto Ricans because there was a great Puerto Rican singer-songwriter culture when I lived there,” said Baobau. “Kanye Garcia, Tommy Torres, Luis Fonsi, Juanes (and) Juan Luis Guerra (he’s a Dominican), I’ve listened to that too. That’s the music I grew up listening to kind of and that’s what my mom listened to – either that or Aerosmith at Saturdays to clean.
Describing the artists’ songs as “lyric-driven”, she began to take an interest in lyrics and composition, and wanted to imitate them with her own music. By putting the songwriter’s side into practice while in school, Paopao realized that it was her strength but not her ultimate goal.
“It was always like, ‘I do this but that’s not my voice. “I’m figuring it out. Until I got to where I am today,” she said. “But it was a journey of self-expression, experimentation, and listening to a bunch of different genres too…things I didn’t experience as a kid.”
Paopao put her foot in the door during her first training at Crescent Moon Studios – owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan – which led her to two more internships that devoted herself day and night.
She said of her publishing internship that she got while doing her masters degree: “I saw a lot of movement there, I was like, ‘This is where I have to be.'” Through her coaching relationships, she got her first job and started writing songs. for other artists.
Through songwriting sessions with them, she also fine-tuned her personal voice, which she said took about eight years to discover.
“I was writing for other people and I was like ‘I wrote this but not me. So who am I? “I started experimenting with different types and adding more alternative elements until I found something like, ‘Okay, that’s what I have to offer.'”
“A lot of my songwriting is just being rude. And I think that’s what people know when they hear my music and hear my words.” “I write and I am very passionate about words.”
This sound is a mixture of reggae and alternative pop, which also translates to her personal style – wearing baggy clothes, heavy metal chains, sneakers, oversized T-shirts or tops with minimal makeup, funky hairstyles, and super nails.
For Paopao, attending college for music helped her understand the business side and her way around the industry. But she knows it’s a double-edged sword.
“It was definitely my go-to, but I don’t recommend it to everyone. For example, you don’t have to spend $60,000 on private education to be successful in music.”
It was in October 2021 when she started her career and signed as RichMusic’s first artist. Since then, I have released three (EPs). The first is a women’s collaborative project, ‘hembrismo’, with Villano Antillano, La Gabi, Aria Vega and Cami Da Baby and launched in March. The song “hembrismo” was one of the first times a group of urban-genre Latinas got together on a project, all playing an equal part in every song.
Paopao then collaborated with musician iZaak on “relaciones tóxicas” and in August released her third music album and first single, “Diamantes y espinas”.
While she is just starting out as an artist, she has said that she realizes and feels the pressures of being a female in this industry. Whether people criticize her words and style, Paopao stands by her identity because she is passionate about her work.
“And I feel emotional about it because I don’t have a Plan B, like this one for me,” she said, stressing the importance of supporting each other, especially Latinas. She also hopes that people in the industry will start looking for more up-and-coming artists because “there are so many new music subcultures.”
“There is a group of really talented and interesting women who do a bunch of different subgenres of not just urban music, but alternative, singer-songwriter, rock and pop,” she said, naming artists like RaiNao, Young Miko and Villano Antellano. “There is too much out there and not enough of it appears.”
Meanwhile, Paopao continues to promote her music and has upcoming shows in Puerto Rico – where she has a family and will be relocating from Miami. I have described the past few months as “crazy” and filled with a lot of difficult moments.
“I’m really glad people recognized my voice and me as an artist, and I’m going to do it full time,” she said. “It’s just something that I feel like a kid that you’re always dreaming about and seeing is real. But until it happens, it’s like, ‘Maybe, maybe, maybe,’ and then yeah,[it happens]. That’s where I am now, it’s cool and I’m enjoying the process that “.
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