In February, Karol G and Shakira unleashed their first collaborative effort called “TQG” (short for “Te Quedó Grande,” which loosely translates to “I’m Too Good For You”) part of Karol’s fourth studio album Mañana Será Bonito.
The star-studded team-up is powered by a somber, hard-hitting reggaetón beat helmed by artist-producer Ovy on the Drums and packed with fierce and unapologetic lyrics about successfully moving on from an ex. “It hurt me to see you with the new one, but I’m already doing my own thing,” chants Shakira. The long-awaited collaboration finds the two Colombianas in a sultry music video, confirming once more that there’s no messing with them (and their hearts).
“We always have a good time creating music,” Ovy (born Daniel Echavarria Oviedo) tells Billboard of the song’s creative process, which was partly done virtually. “Karol spoke highly of Shakira and told me she was incredible. And this is the result of two of the biggest artists in Colombia. It’s awesome being part of this process and this hit because it’s a collaboration for the books.”
In March, “TQG” became both Karol G and Shakira’s first No. 1 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts. It also reached the top slot on Hot Latin Songs, where it has since spent five weeks leading the chart.
Below, Ovy explains how the foundation for the international hit, reacts to the song’s success and more.
A collaboration between Karol G and Shakira had long been anticipated by fans. How did those conversations begin, and what was your initial reaction once it was confirmed?
Sometime in January 2022, we were working on “MAMIII” — [Karol G’s] collaboration with Becky G — and after we finished, Karol and I stayed in the studio. That’s when the first version of “TQG” was born. Honestly, when we had the first version, I never imagined Shakira on the track. Karol was the one who, out of nowhere said, “Ovy, Shakira on ‘TQG’ will be a hit!” She was the one who envisioned it and I got really excited. At the same time, rumors of a collaboration began making the rounds. I already knew that Karol was going to reach out to [Shakira’s] team but when different media [outlets] interviewed me, I would say that I didn’t know anything.
Karol sent it to Shakira, and she added her verse. It was a beautiful team and a song that surprised me. I even got a tattoo of “TQG” because it’s my first No. 1 hit [on the Spotify Global Top 50, as well as the Billboard Global 200] as a producer.
So you never actually met Shakira in person?
I didn’t have the opportunity to meet her, but I would be in touch with her thanks to the voice notes she sent me through her manager. Nowadays, there’s no need to get together in person, though I think it’s best to all be in the studio together. Sometimes, because of distance and time, it’s not possible — and thanks to technology, we can create things virtually. Shakira and Karol didn’t meet in person until the filming of the music video, but Karol did record with me and Shakira recorded with her team.
From the first day in the studio to the day of release, how quickly did you finish the song?
The first version was ready for almost a year, but when Shakira stepped in, we changed it around. She brought her ideas, and we joined them with Karol’s ideas and began reworking the song as a team. Shakira entered the collab around December 2022, and in January, the song was mastered and ready to go because we had to submit Karol’s album, [Mañana Será Bonito].
Did this song ever have another title in mind or was it always going to be called “TQG”?
I wanted it to be called “La Nueva” (“The New One”) but Karol thought of “TQG.” Like “Tusa” and other titles, she’s really good at thinking of song names. She’s a genius, and the title is perfect.
Are there any interesting anecdotes you can share about the process of “TQG”?
We always have a good time creating music, but I know they both connected and had a good [working] relationship. Karol spoke highly of Shakira and told me she was incredible. This is the result of two of the biggest artists in Colombia. It’s awesome being part of this process and this hit because it’s a collaboration for the books.
What is your favorite line or verse from the song?
The part that says: “Es como tapar una herida con maquillaje/No se ve, pero se siente” (“It’s like covering a wound with makeup/It is not seen, but it is felt”) — I love that part!
The song has been extremely successful on the Billboard charts, including a fifth week at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs on charts dated April 8. What’s your reaction to such accolades?
The day I’m not surprised of having another hit, I’ll quit and focus on something else. I do music with so much passion and so much dedication to see these types of results. I want people to enjoy it and for the song to become a hit — I want it to reach places I’ve never imagined. The day Karol made history as the first woman to have a No. 1 with an all-Spanish-language album [on the Billboard 200], that day I cried. Every song has a different story, a different meaning and is born in a different way. They’re all my babies and I like seeing each of them succeed. I’m very happy with everything’s that happening. I’m going to continue creating music and work hard for everything that’s coming.
A version of this story originally appeared in the April 1, 2023, issue of Billboard.