Piso 21 have come a long way from the scrappy, teenaged artists who joined together over a decade ago. Dim, real name David Escobar, has shed his long locks for cropped, often bleached haircuts. Juan David Huertas, like Dim, has children now. Meanwhile, Pablo “Pablito” Mejía sports a mohawk. And Llane, of course, is no longer with the group. After announcing his departure to pursue a solo career earlier this year, fellow Medellíneño David “Lorduy” Hernandez joined on in his place, graduating from past collaborator to official group member.
Yet some things remain the same. After all, Juan is still wearing his fedoras. And Piso 21’s thirst for success is still as strong as ever. Or perhaps that’s changing too: It’s even stronger.
When the guys talk about their goals and measures for success, they speak with a kind of limitless certainty that there are still many achievements yet to come. And that’s coming from a group who has already gone on countless tours to separate corners of the world — from Switzerland and Germany, to their homebase in Colombia — and were nominated for a Latin Grammy. But while their nomination in 2012 for Best New Artist was an honor, they know it didn’t mark their peak. Since then, Dim, Pablito, el Profe and now Lorduy, have been hard at work diversifying their sound to enter into a larger, global scene. Porque why stop at the Latin Grammys, when there are the main Grammys?
Piso 21 is undoubtedly still a pop urbano group, but like many of their contemporaries, they’ve started to blur the lines between how that used to sound at the start of the decade, into everything that genre can now include. It can sound like “Mami,” the group’s summer collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas — a dulcet, bilingual ode to every “Mami sweet as sugar,” where even the Peas’ Taboo got to flex his own Chicano identity. Working with the American group proved how flexible the Medellín artists have become, making them excited to work within countless other genres. “I believe that Piso 21 has the versatility to work with any kind of genre that accommodates an artist, so long as we like that artist,” says Dim.
It’s an instinct already evidenced, too, by their later fall corridos urbano hit, “Pa’ Olvidarme de Ella,” with Christian Nodal — a nascent fusion that the group was excited to take part in. “It’s a growing movement, so we wanted to drop our own grain of sand into the mix with “Pa’ Olvidarme de Ella,” explains Dim, “It was an experiment in our case, where we didn’t consider it to be a genre but a fusion between Mexican regional music and urban music.”
Now, Piso 21 has their sights set on more fusions, more experimentations. “In the future, we would love to make songs with someone like The Weeknd, which can be an R&B song or with artists like Future that are more like trap,” Dim adds. “Why not make songs with Phil Collins, Coldplay, Maroon 5, or Ed Sheeran, each one in their own style? We like to make good music independent of the genre.”
Aiming for a bevy of American collabs doesn’t mean they’re done with a sound that already works, though. Their most recent collaboration with fellow Colombiano pop urbano mainstays, Cali y El Dandee, seems to suggest as much. Last month, Piso 21 teamed up with the duo to release “Voy Por Ti,” a puro urbano pop summer-nostalgia track that roused us up out of our fall weather blues. While timed for release on November 8, Lorduy explains that the collaboration was well underway for some time. Working with producer Tesel, Lorduy and Dim started thinking up the idea for the collaboration over a year and a half ago.
“Cali y El Dandee did their part for their composition, and working with them was really cool. Their energy is super bacana, and they already carry a huge repertoire like us,” says Lorduy. Collaborations with local artists are just as important as crossing over for American audiences, if not more so, for the guys. “I think this union was so important to signify Colombia altogether. Cali y El Dandee are from Cali, and with us from Medellín, there you have Colombia as a whole,” Lorduy added. “In truth, collaborations like this between Colombians rarely seem to happen, [so] the experience was incredible.”
If catching up with Piso 21 proves anything, it’s that they’re a hard act to stay fully up to speed with. Always growing, ever-evolving, you’re just as likely to expect them to channel “Kanye or Beyonce” for their next album, as you are to see them work with a K-Pop group (hey, Leslie Grace did it!) But what’s always certain is that you can settle in for some iteration of dancefloor-ready pop — after cracking this formula for over a decade, Piso 21 won’t be stopping with that anytime soon.