Photo Courtesy of Orienteer
5 Latinx Rappers To Know Now: Santa Fe Klan, Chucky73, J.I., Yoss Bones & BIA
At no other time in recent mainstream consciousness has hip-hop mattered like it does today. After all, most streamed and chart-topping artists in the Western Hemisphere today are rap stars. The Kanyes, the Drakes, the J Balvins, and the Bad Bunnys — yes, reggaeton's lyrical structure is on par with hip-hop, and Latin trap is a subset of that. With reality TV shows like "Love & Hip Hop" and "Sisterhood of Hip Hop," and monolithic brands betting on the genre — we're checking you out, Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos — the art form originally born in the Bronx has traveled far and wide. Even in the genre's birthplace during the '70s, New York-dwelling Puerto Ricans were at the helm of it, thus eventually taking their creative stylings back to their island where it received the tropical treatment by the likes of Tego Calderon and Vico C. Through mixtapes and bootlegs, and Latin immigrants mobilizing with their music, the genre continued to take on new configurations in their respective points of destination. (Never mind the recent streaming explosion!) Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and beyond, these countries boosted some of the most outstanding rap movements in history. All that's to say, hip-hop has deep roots in Latin America, and Latinxs' love of language helped make Latin hip-hop a prolific stronghold.
By no means is this a complete list of artists to watch, as there are constantly new Latinx rappers on the rise: Eladio Carrion from Puerto Rico, who straddles drill and old school hip-hop; Cazzu co-leading the Argentinian Trap wave; Aczino, one of the greatest wordsmiths freestyling has seen as of late; and Colombia's Nanpa Básico delivering some of the most gorgeous and poetically inclined hip-hop bars. We can't fit every great new talent on a list, but we can certainly start here:
Santa Fe Klan
Mexico is teeming with worthy rap stars — a bubbling scene that deserves its own listicle (e.g., Alemán, Gera MX, and Neto Peña, to name a few). Yet one of its most riveting players goes by Santa Fe Klan, and comes charged with a captivating flow and a love of roots. Hailing from the neighborhood of Santa Fe in Guanajuato, the 21-year-old lyricist first cut his teeth with Seguimos Radicando (2017), and reached further fame with the heady, autobiographical outing Bendecido, an ode to gratitude for his uncanny trajectory. His star rose higher as he took a turn to cumbias on Santa Cumbia, where he displayed his sonidero swagger and accordion-playing prowess while continuing to deliver hard-hitting cuts about the come-up and life in the hood. Already snagging collaborations with the likes of Run The Jewels, M.I.S., and Nanpa Básico, it's only a matter of time before the tatted rapper reaches further international appeal.
Fact: You can't really walk around New York City without hearing someone blast a Chucky73 track from their car. Equipped with a nimble flow and sardonic wordplay, the Dominican-born rhymester has been wreaking havoc in his homebase of the Bronx and beyond, along with his rowdy crew,the Sie7etr3 gang. Before rising to the rap stratosphere, Adel Mejia got his first taste of rapping before hitting the teenage years by taking cues from Chicago drill pioneers like Chief Keef. Combining trap, dembow, and debauchery for good measure, the 21-year-old released two albums in 2020, including the slang-heavy De Chamaquito Siempre Cabezu, and a slew of viral uploads making the rounds on streaming platforms.
New York continues to be an indisputable focal point for hip-hop, and Brooklyn rap sets the bar high with historic rap schoolings that continue to creatively fuel generation after generation. Inspired by the likes of Big Pun and Biggie, J.I., formerly known as J.I the Prince of N.Y, is a 20-year-old Boricua rapper whose star keeps ascending since he made his first public appearance in season two of "The Rap Game." Blessed with a warm timbre that can turn icy in an instant via melodic aggressions, J.I made his proper debut in 2019 with his Hood Life Krisis series. He became an overnight sensation with leading number "Need Me," which boasts over 100 million views to date on YouTube alone. He's gained the approval of his music heroes like Jadakiss, and continues to be an intoxicating force in the SoundCloud streaming-sphere.
A frequent collaborator of Santa Fe Klan under the same Rap Trap label, Yoss Bones (née Jesica Yocelin Martinez Montiel) is bringing a fresh feminine perspective to the Mexican rap game as one of the few dames of her scene. With her fiery rap verses and sultry R&B, the Guanajuato native tackles troubling topics about societal inequalities. Although she began to sing first at a very young age, Yoss Bones found her sweet spot maneuvering with lyrical dexterity and ease. She began to make her online presence known in 2018, and the 25-year-old artist has since accumulated millions of views across her YouTube channel. Some dope collaborations feature prominent heads like Pato Machete and Lefty SM.
BIA first entered our global consciousness with her wild hit feature on J Balvin's "Safari," also starring Pharell Williams and Sky — a sultry tropical banger that's nearly approaching 1 billion streams. But before that, Bianca Miquela Landrau starred in the TV series Sisterhood of Hip Hop and consequently became Pharell's protégé. Seamlessly mixing a rich, bilingual set of trap, rap and reggaeton, her sly, ear-grabbing sound is an ever-expanding universe. As an Afro-Puerto Rican and Italian performer, the Boston-bred rapper displays an all-encompassing appeal while becoming a major source of representation for an eclectic set of audiences. Among her many collaborations are Nicki Minaj, Lil Jon, and Kali Uchis. Later this month, BIA is poised to drop For Certain (Deluxe).