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Although the Latin urbano music scene has mainly been dominated by the rise of reggaeton, a new generation of hip-hop artists have also honed their skills, growing a grass roots following since the mid-2000s and in 2018 Argentinean rapper Wos won the prestigious Red Bull Batalla de Los Gallos competition and was crowned the king of freestyle rap in South America.

Growing up in Buenos Aires, Wos (real name Valentin Oliva) discovered the pioneers of the local rap scene such as Sindicato Argentino del Hip Hop and Frescolate and he cut his teeth spitting rhymes with friends in town plazas and at informal gatherings known as cyphers. Although mainstream record labels failed to support a hip-hop community that was sparked by the arrival of MTV in the region in the 1990s, the underground scene had blossomed across the continent thanks to social media and was fuelled by popular rap battle competitions that were heavily inspired by Eminem's movie '8 Mile'.

Wos first came to attention competing in the 2012 El Quinto Escalon tournament at the age of 14 in the neighbourhood of Caballito to small crowds, but within three years the popularity of the batallas had grown so rapidly that thousands of people were turning up to the event and tens of millions were viewing videos of the performers on YouTube. Wos won the competition in 2016 and his tracks 'Primera ley de Vida', 'Abacanado' and 'Protocolo' helped build his reputation online, before he earned his stripes in 2017 when he reached the final of the scene's biggest event, the Red Bull sponsored Batalla de Los Gallos, held that year in Mexico City and won by local favourite Aczino. The following year the two met in the final again, this time in Buenos Aires, where Wos got his revenge and was crowned the winner by a judging panel and an ecstatic hometown crowd.

His old school, melodic, sensitive tales of the world around him and sharp, funny putdowns led to his track 'Purpura' becoming an underground anthem and picked up over 14 million views on YouTube, with Wos going on to perform at the Lollapalooza festival in 2019 returning with his strutting, trap-flavoured new tack 'Terraza'.
©Copyright Music Story 2020
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