Shakira is big news around the world. From TikTok to newspaper headlines, the Colombian music phenomenon’s hot-off-the-press release BZRP Music Session #53 is making waves for its charged lyrics (directed at her former partner, Gerard Piqué) and for the records it is breaking on YouTube. The video has been watched over 63 million times in just 24 hours, becoming the fasted Latin music video to rack up that amount of views.
Shakira and Piqué, who had been in a decade-long relationship, have separated. Piqué is a retired Spanish international football player who played for Barcelona, Manchester United and the Spanish national team. They have two children. Since the breakup, Piqué, 35, has been romantically linked to 23-year-old Clara Chía Marti. Shakira is not impressed: “I’m worth two 22’s. You traded a Ferrari for a (Renault) Twingo”.
Reporting on the response to the song after only a day online, The Guardian writes: “A savage new song by Shakira in which the Colombian star, philanthropist and committed believer in the veracity of hips ridicules her former partner Gerard Piqué has logged more than 63m YouTube views in 24 hours, making it the most watched new Latin song in the platform’s history”. The BBC refers to the song as Out of Your League and claims that Shakira addresses “her ex-partner Gerard Piqué cheating on her”.
BZRP Music Session #53 (aka Out of Your League) is widely described as a diss track, “a song whose primary purpose is to verbally attack someone else” (Wikipedia). For many, diss songs are associated with rivalries between hip-hop and rap artist. In recent years, diss tracks have become popular with “YouTubers”, notably the Paul brothers, RiceGum, and KSI. Meanwhile, IDubbbzTV and PewDiePie have released diss track parodies. While “dis” is 1980s slang (disrespect), diss tracks go back further:
Describing the song as an early example of a diss track, Wikipedia claims that Joe Tex wrote You Keep Her (1962) “after his wife left him for soul singer James Brown, who then broke up with her and wrote Tex a letter saying he could have her back. Tex refused and ridiculed this offer in his song”. Wikipedia also reminds us that the celebrated reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry was partial to diss tracks, and mentions the diss songs of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Queen, and the Sex Pistols, among others.
Shakira’s new song is a classic example of the genre: “You traded a Rolex for a Casio, You’re going fast, slow down, Ah, a lot of gym, But work-out your brain a little too”, she taunts. The most telling lines address the timing and circumstances of the betrayal: “You left me as a neighbor to the mother-in-law, With the press at the door and the debt at the IRS …”.
Elaborating on the reference to the IRS, The Guardian reports: “According to Spanish prosecutors, Shakira and her family lived in Barcelona between 2012 and 2014, meaning she should have paid tax in Spain on her worldwide income for those years. They are seeking an eight-year prison sentence and a fine of more than €23m if she is convicted”. Shakira disputes the charges.
BZRP Music Session #53 (Out of Your League) is a collaboration with producer Bizarrap. Responding to the surging interest in the song, Shakira wrote on Instagram (13/2/23, as translated by geo.tv): “What for me was a catharsis and a discharge, I never thought I would get straight to number one in the world at 45 years old and in Spanish. I want to embrace the millions of women who rise up to the ones who make us feel insignificant.”.
On Friday 13 February 2022, Gerald Piqué responded to the track at a presentation relating to King’s League, a 7-a-side football competition that he is setting up. The News International picks up the story: “[Pique said,] ‘Casio has sent us wristwatches. We reached a sponsorship agreement with Casio; the King’s League struck a deal with Casio.’. During the show, Gerard even flaunted his ‘grey Casio watch’, adding, ‘This watch will last a lifetime.’ … Speaking of the Casio watch announcement, King’s League team owner Sergio Aguero quipped, ‘It was because of Shakira’s song, I think that’s why Casio is sponsoring us. Pique got annihilated by that song.'”