Welcome to Pandora’s Latin Artists to Watch. From diverse backgrounds and perspectives, these are the talented musicians who are defining genres and creating new ones. These are the acts we think will be impacting music for years to come. Take a listen here on our Latin Artists to Watch mixtape.
Audri Nix has momentum on her side. The Puerto Rican lyricist/singer started turning heads late last year, and her 2016 debut EP, El Nuevo Orden, Vol., wholly justified that early praise with a refreshing take on the Latin trap aesthetic that we all needed. Smart lyrics, strong delivery and inventive production make Nix a force. After closing out this year grinding and honing her live show, 2017 will see her deliver an anticipated follow up EP, Niña de Oro.
With the release of their latest single, La Nueva Ciudad, Balún, the San Juan bred, Brooklyn-based quartet has further cemented their role as genre innovators. By incorporating dreampop sensibilities with a driving reggaetón/dembow rhythm, the group celebrates a Puerto Rican identity that is unapologetically difficult to pin down. 2017 sees them taking their dreambow sound (as they’ve dubbed it) to new heights and new ears, with the full-length release of Prisma Tropical.
Bryant Myers is all over the place these days, and like many Puerto Rican latin urban artists, he has found substantial success largely without the support of the mainstream music industry. As one of the premiere proponents of the Latin Trap movement, his unmistakable deep voice, calculated delivery and freak nasty lyrics can be heard on some of the biggest tracks of the year. Look for big things coming from Mr. Myers in 2017.
With a co-sign from Daddy Yankee, Brytiago has quickly positioned himself as one of the dudes to watch in 2017. Even at this early point in his career, the Puerto Rican born artist has a polished quality that some of the biggest names in the genre share. Straddling the line between romantic BFF and the type of dude you wouldn’t want your daughter to date, Brytiago definitely knows how to please his fans and is taking the necessary steps to grow his audience exponentially.
Crecer German is emblematic of the younger generation of Regional Mexican singers who are having a huge impact on the industry today. Having gained recognition on You Tube initially, he has one of the fastest growing audiences on Pandora, fueled by his major label debut on Fonovisa this past October. Firmly rooted in the sierreño sound of his native Sinaloa, German leans heavily on the romantic side of the genre, which seems to be paying dividends.
Diana Fuentes has already made a name for herself as being a dynamic voice amongst an emergent generation of contemporary Cuban singer songwriters. While largely flying under the radar of mainstream Latin music, Fuentes crafts thoughtful pop songs that draw as much from her Cuban roots as from the broader Latin American diaspora and beyond. Her third full length is slated to be released in February of 2017, and the first single, La Fortuna, a collaboration with Tommy Torres, was just released this month.
José Daniel Betances, known artistically as El Nene La Amenaza, emerged in 2016 as one of the key new players in the latin urban music scene with the success of the anthemic trap single, El Chanty. With his debut full length, Amenazzy, this past October, El Nene moved beyond just releasing a succession of singles, elevating his status as a serious player. Like many Dominican urban artists, he moves between reggaetón, dembow, reggae and trap, but the combination of a clean classic production style and a strong lyrical command have made him someone to watch in 2017.
Johnathan Ramos, aka Jhoni “ The Voice” moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic at age six, and that bicultural identity is part of what makes his music so exciting. An accomplished singer songwriter and performer, as well as having a degree in recording engineering, Ramos’ brand of music draws as much from latin urban music and trap, as contemporary R&B. In addition to singing in both Spanish and English, Jhoni “The Voice” is a natural in front of any production style, making him a very strong candidate for broader crossover appeal- on his own terms.
To describe Juan Cirerol as unconventional or as an ‘acquired taste’ doesn’t get to the heart of who he is as a performer. There is a melancholy quality to his music (his latest EP is titled En Los Días de Música Triste) that seems to draw from a classic acoustic country sound, as well as from ballads and corridos from his native Northern Mexico. But there is also a DGAF DIY aesthetic to his music, which points to his roots in punk rock. Artistically, Cirerol is one of the most honest and gifted songwriters around, who transmits the truth through his songs and his incredible voice and guitar work.
Natives of Costa Rica, Las Robertas have been making noise for some time in the international psych/garage scene, touring all over Latin America, the US and Europe. Despite the obvious obstacles in gaining recognition in a ‘small market’ Latin American country, as well as not playing ‘Latin’ music, Las Robertas have made a name for themselves through their very honest approach to music, paying tribute to the artists and the scenes that have always inspired them. Their music is melodic fun straight-ahead garage pop, crated with inventiveness and love. Check for them in 2017.
Collaborations with Messiah, and later with Anuel AA, helped to initially elevate the name of NY/Dominicano MC, Lito Kirino, but give credit where it’s due, he’s one of the best lyricists out right now pushing the trap latino movement. Having been raised in New York City definitely has its advantages if you’re trying to come up in the rap game, and Kirino has used his bicultural background and experiences to his advantage, crafting a street style that could only have been born in Harlem. Kirino, like Messiah before him, brings legitimacy to Spanish-language rap music made in the USA, and has been releasing music at a prolific level.
Mike Towers is a rapper’s rapper. The Puerto Rican MC, while still not a household name, has been turning heads this year with his presence on the mic. It would be easy to fold him into the trap latino genre, after all, a great deal of his production is straight trap beats, but Towers offers a broader depth of thoughtful lyricism, which reflects his affinity for the fundamentals of hip hop music. Look for Towers to continue to grow and surprise on his forthcoming album Just In Case, releasing in 2017.
The secret is out with Mon Laferte. The Chilean singer songwriter is nominated for no less than two Latin Grammys this year, for Best New Artist and Best Alternative album, respectively. Her introspective style of songwriting is gaining traction in the Latin mainstream world, but Laferte didn’t come out of nowhere. Her unique sound, which draws from the diverse roots of a pan-American experience, has been carefully and lovingly crafted over years of writing and performing. Laferte is kicking off her first headlining US tour this month, giving many of the uninitiated a chance to get to know her, as well.
The momentum around Colombian singer songwriter Manuel Medrano has been slowly building since his 2015 self-titled release on Warner Music Mexico. Everything has since been accelerated due a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. There is a universal appeal within his music that transcends many of the traditional barriers that would keep a Spanish-speaking artist from finding success in mainstream markets. It would not be at all surprising to hear his warm, rich vocals and revealing compositions emanating from coffeehouse PA’s anywhere in the world.
Mula is on the under. The Dominican all female trio make electronic music that is true to their roots, incorporating familiar Caribbean percussive elements and rhythms from merengue, bachata and dembow, into a laidback electro dance pop. The fusion of the folkloric and the traditional with contemporary musical elements is not new in Latin America. What separates Mula is the appealing personalities of Anabel Acevedo, Cristabel Acevedo and Rachel Rojas. Mula not only reveals a Latina feminine perspective that is underexposed, they make great dance music.
Perdidos de Sinaloa are going to be big. Organically, they’ve built a huge following throughout the Southwest and Mexico, with very little commercial airplay and without the aid of a major label. Tapping into the growing thirst for campirana/sierreña music, Dariel Ramírez, lead voice and songwriter, has created a body of songs that resonates with a younger generation of regional Mexican fans. He is, at his core, a romantic with a great voice. Look for them to make their presence felt in 2017.
Colombian musicians continue to make huge waves in mainstream Latin music, and they’ve done so largely by embracing the depth and diversity of their own rich cultural history. Systema Solar, a collective of musicians and artists from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, continues in that vein. Having formed in 2006, they have been honing their sound for the last decade, which is a mix cumbia, bullerengue, porro and champeta, augmented by big beat breaks and EDM influences. Their large sound destroys the dancefloor and has gained them broad recognition. Look for a new full length on Nacional Records in 2017.
Ulices Chaidez is a child of Sinaloa, which seems like one of the prerequisites to making it in the regional mexican music industry these days. What perhaps separates the 16 year old is the lengths he went to develop his artistic voice within the tradition of música sinaloense. A self taught requinto player and a student of the campirana style, there is an undeniable authenticity to his songwriting that can’t help but bring about comparisons to the late Ariel Camacho. Fans have responded in a big way, propelling his debut last month on DEL Records, Andamos En El Ruedo, to big numbers on Pandora.
Victora ‘La Mala’ Ortiz has been widely recognized as an artist to watch, and the hype is not misplaced. Her recent signing with Roc Nation Latin further cements the anticipation around this uniquely talented Mexican singer. Ortiz seems to be circumventing the conventional avenues for finding success in the regional mexican music industry, and who can blame her? Where paths are often closed, she is forging her own way with an unapologetic message of female empowerment and strength.
Yomil (Roberto Hidalgo Puentes) and El Dany (Daniel Muñoz Borrego) represent the future of Cuba’s footprint in latin urban music. With a growing reputation going back to 2015, both on the island and in the US, and the subsequent 2016 full length release of Sobredosis, Yomil y El Dany have made the case for being the next cubatón artist to break big, after the success of Jacob Forever. Their ‘traptón’ sound, a mixture of trap synth tones and drum tracks with reggaetón, is what has separated them as being real innovators in Cuban dance music. Look for big moves in 2017.