MESA, Ariz. — At TikTok’s first-ever global music event, artists like Cardi B, Niall Horan and Charlie Puth were a big draw for many attendees.
But it was Mexican singer Peso Pluma, a late addition to the lineup, who seemed to get the crowd at Sloan Park the most hyped.
Many attendees to Sunday’s “TikTok in the Mix” sported shirts with the 24-year-old’s face on it as they awaited his turn on the stage. Fans who spoke to NBC News said they got tickets to the event just to see Peso Pluma, which means “featherweight” in Spanish. Thousands screamed and danced while watching him perform some of his top hits, including “Ella Baila Sola,” “La People” and “Lady Gaga.”
The performance marked the culmination of a big year for Peso Pluma, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabandre Laija. He has helped usher regional Mexican music into the mainstream and was recently named Billboard’s “Rookie of the Year:” He landed 22 songs on the Hot 100 in 2023.
Regional Mexican music encompasses numerous subgenres, but Peso Pluma is known best for his corridos tumbados, or narrative-driven songs influenced by American hip-hop styles like trap music. He has cited Drake, the Weeknd, 21 Savage, Post Malone, Suicideboys and Shoreline Mafia as his top influences in an interview with Variety. His third studio album, “Génesis,” has been streamed millions of times and he’s widely credited for bringing traditional Mexican music to a new generation of listeners.
When asked why he thought regional Mexican music took off this year, Peso Pluma said it’s because the genre is “very unique.”
“It’s very original, very natural,” the artist told NBC News in an interview. “Every instrument, when we play, is live and I think that makes it special for people.”
After becoming the first Mexican artist to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, Peso Pluma said he was excited to accomplish another first as one of the inaugural artists — and sole regional Mexican artist — to perform in TikTok’s live music event. He said he was excited to display “our roots, which is corridos and música mexicana.”
‘He made it more global’
Fans seemed to agree with that sentiment and were excited to see regional Mexican music represented on a global stage, as the concert was livestreamed around the world. Attendees were happy to see this genre of music, which has been on the precipice of a breakthrough for years, dominate in the mainstream.
“It was the most energizing to the audience, I think,” said attendee Ray Nercado, 35, who came to see the singer.
Gabby Perez, 22, came along with her baby to TikTok in the Mix to see Peso Pluma. She said that after years of reggaeton dominating popular Latin music, she’s excited that Peso Pluma is bringing back corridos.
“I feel like Mexican music is always a big thing in the community, but it’s like he made it more global,” Perez said. “More people are into it, even people who don’t speak Spanish are into it. People who I thought I’d never have something in common with, all of a sudden we have a favorite artist.”
Peso Pluma said he’s looking forward to his next world tour and album in 2024.
On the heels of his latest collaboration, “Bellakeo,” with Brazilian pop star Anitta, with whom he performed at the event, he said he was looking forward to collaborating with more artists in the New Year.
With whom it is unclear, as Peso Pluma kept his cards close to his chest. But he said that he has “a lot” of people in mind.