Young Miko talks debut album 'Att.,' "mikosexuals" and 'Princess Peach' The Puerto Rican rapper has risen through the ranks of Latin pop, collaborating with artists like Karol G and Bad Bunny. With her playful, experimental debut Att., she's poised to be a bigger star.

Young Miko upended norms in Latin pop. On her debut 'Att.' she raises her own bar

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A MART├ŹNEZ, HOST:

The music of Puerto Rican rapper Young Miko centers on lesbian love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LISA")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

MART├ŹNEZ: The 25-year-old artist is upending norms in Latin pop. Here's NPR's Isabella Gomez Sarmiento.

ISABELLA GOMEZ SARMIENTO, BYLINE: Young Miko just released her debut album, and it comes on the heels of some pretty big accomplishments. She's had two songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLASSY 101")

YOUNG MIKO AND FEID: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: She's collaborated with stars like Bad Bunny and Karol G.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DISPO")

YOUNG MIKO AND KAROL G: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: And she just received the Impact Award at Billboard's Women in Music ceremony last month.

YOUNG MIKO: I think it's the prettiest award. This one just goes beyond music. It's, like, more as a person and, like, a voice that people are actually listening to.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Young Miko has been gaining fans for a few years. She started out as a tattoo artist, uploading songs to SoundCloud on the side. Then in 2022, she released an EP called "Trap Kitty."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BI")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: On that project, she bragged about how all the girls want to be bisexual since she came out as a lesbian. Since then, the 25-year-old has led a new wave of women and queer artists taking over the male dominated genres of reggaeton and Latin trap.

NATALIA MERCED: Queer people honestly historically didn't have a space in reggaeton.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: That's Natalia Merced of the Hasta 'Bajo Project, an organization that archives reggaeton's history as it relates to Puerto Rican culture. Merced says that lack of inclusion has really changed in recent years. She largely credits that shift to younger listeners, who she says are more open about their sexuality and seek out artists like Young Miko, whose music reflects that reality.

MERCED: We have queer reggaeton that is more, like, with a political intent, but Young Miko - it feels very organic. (Speaking Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Young Miko's music is about partying, flirting and having fun. And Merced says there's a lot of value in a queer artist like Miko not feeling pressure to make political music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CURITA")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Young Miko says she didn't start rapping to make a statement.

YOUNG MIKO: (Speaking Spanish) Oh, my God, we're going to make history. Oh, my God, no girl's doing this. Oh, my God, (speaking Spanish). It was just - honestly, I was just - me having fun.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: But she says seeing her songs resonate with younger audiences has given her a higher purpose. With over 28 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Young Miko has become ingrained in the Latin mainstream.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROOKIE OF THE YEAR")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: On her new album, "Att.," she's vulnerable in new ways. Now she's not just bragging about stealing girls' hearts.

YOUNG MIKO: This is kind of like the other side of that. Again, I'm also human. I also get my heart broken. I also fall in love, blah blah blah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAMAGOTCHI")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Miko knows her career is just taking off, but her rapid rise shows she might be one of Latin music's next brightest stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAMAGOTCHI")

YOUNG MIKO: (Rapping in Spanish).

(Speaking Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Young Miko says there are no limits to how far she can go.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, NPR News.

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