Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images
7 Artists Who Have Added New Life To Reggaeton
Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and among other standouts to consider in the world of music, reggaeton is shining bright. With roots in Panama and Puerto Rico, reggaeton has introduced the world to a genre that mixes hip hop, salsa, reggae and a dembow beat. Many salute Daddy Yankee's hit "Gasolina," released in 2004, for pinning the genre on the map in the early '00s — the hit reached No. 32 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 2005. The song was on the album, Barrio Fino, that won Daddy Yankee his first Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Music Album.
In the last few years, reggaeton has been placed back in the limelight of the mainstream music world thanks to Latin GRAMMY winner J Balvin who is credited with having shifted the genre's center-of-action to Colombia while pursuing what Rolling Stone has described as "a mission to globalize" reggaeton. But Balvin has only been the beginning.
Here is a closer look at 7 artists who represent this growing wave, following Balvin's revitalizing revival. Each has made unique contributions to that success and are sparking excitement over what projects they'll do next.
1. Karol G
Singer Karol G's debut album Unstoppable was released in Nov. 2017 and broke into the Billboard 200. Originally from Colombia, collaborations with Nicky Jam and Bad Bunny boosted her recognition. Now her natural authority and her ability to be playful with pop style have made her album's title seem to apply to Karol G's own talent.
Maluma released his third album, F.A.M.E., in May 2018, which reached No. 37 on the Billboard 200 in June. From Colombia, his dreams of playing soccer faded as the popularity of his singles attracted growing attention. Their power has broken into Billboard's Hot 100 three times, including "Corazon" with Nego do Borel this year. His duet "Clandestino" with Shakira helped heat up the summer, but like the other artists on this list, his sunshine is much greater than any one song.
3. Natti Natasha
From the Dominican Republic, Natti Natasha's first album All About Me was released in 2012 and she has been associated with her mentor and early champion Don Omar. Although she is yet to demonstrate what she can do in the album format, her proven ability to electrify singles has been clear as lightning in 2018. Two of her collaborations landed on Billboard's Hot 100 this year, "Criminal" with Ozuna and "Sin Pijama" with Becky G.
No sophomore slump for Ozuna, whose second album Aura was just released in Aug. 2018 accompanied by spectacular charting for his singles. From Puerto Rico, Ozuna's long-awaited debut was 2017's Odisea, which reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200, followed by Aura reaching No. 7 this month. "Única" broke into the Hot 100, reaching No. 72 this month, his sixth track on that chart this year.
5. Justin Quiles
Best known so far for his songwriting, Justin Quiles was born in Connecticut, moved with his family to Puerto Rico, moved back to Connecticut for high school and then back to the island to break into the music business. His 2016 album La Promesa reached No. 2 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart. In an interview with Remezcla, earlier this year, he defended the pop-crossover side of the genre as still connected to its roots, saying, "There are always people taking it to old school reggaeton."
6. Los Rakas
Los Rakas' self-titled 2016 major-label debut was nominated for Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album at the 59th GRAMMY Awards. Cousins, Raka Dun was born in Panama and Raka Rich was born in California but spent his childhood in Panama City. "Rakataka" is a Panamanian slur for people from the slums, but the duo embrace the designation as describing their roots, and their music is all about uplift. Early collaborations with major artists included Blondie and Major Lazer. Although the duo are still a minor part of the 2018 reggaeton diaspora, it is good to include Panamanian urban music because Panama has deep reggaeton roots of its own.
Like some others on this list, the road to Reykon's first album was stellar. El Lider was released in May 2018 and reached No. 20 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums including Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam among its featured artists. His work leading up to that is considered to have made Reykon and reggaeton into synonyms in his native Colombia. He has a featured spot himself on Kali Uchis' 2018 debut Isolation, on the track "Nuestro Planeta."