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These 12 Artists Are Bridging The Gap Between Latin Culture & Pop Music

Although it is constantly clumped together under the unparticular term “Latin,” music from Latin America manifests itself on plurality, resistance, and heart. With a history of syncretism and a heritage from different populations that have migrated towards the continent over time, traditional rhythms like reggaeton, carioca funk, dembow, and narcocorrido have translated a culture upheld by centuries of melodies, from the Incas’ musical artifacts to influences brought along with European colonization.

With the rise of Latin music topping the charts as of late — through hits like “Ella Baila Sola” by Peso Pluma Eslabon Armado and “Where She Goes” by Bad Bunny — all eyes (and ears) have been on the upcoming tracks from Latin American artists.

If you’re new to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking artists or are broadening your horizons in search for your next favorite singer, get to know these 12 talents who are leaving their mark on the music industry with vibrant, rich styles and unique influences brought by their culture and personal experiences. 

At the forefront of the Latin wave, established icons like Shakira to breakthrough stars like Bad Bunny and Peso Pluma have been pushing boundaries and bridging the gap between cultures to impact the sound of international contemporary music. 

As Bad Bunny once sang, ahora todo quieren ser latino’ (“now everyone wants to be Latine”). But why not get the sazón right from the source:

1. Bad Bunny

Este es mi sol, esta es mi tierra, esta soy yo. If we’re talking about influential Latin artists, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny is always on the list. This happens not without reason: the genre, gender, and norm-defying star has been named one of the world’s biggest musicians. 

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, in his words, cracked “the gringo market” with his authenticity, political stands and, of course, a lot of reggaeton. Before the massive success of his fourth studio album Un Verano Sin Ti – home to hits like “El Apagón”, “Party” and “Otro Atardecer” –, the artist was already creating his sound based on experiences from his heart and country. 

Whether it’s trap or reggaeton tracks, painting his nails, or refusing to speak in English, Bad Bunny conquers by following the principle of his song “YHLQMDLG”: Yo hago lo que me da la gana (translation: I do what I want).

2. Anitta

From traditional Brazilian rhythms like funk carioca and brega to reggaeton and R&B, Anitta has touched upon it all with her music — and in several languages too.

Born Larissa de Macedo Machado, the singer amplified her music from the favelas (and Brazil) by going international with hits like “Envolver,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” and “Girl From Rio.” 

From her earlier, nostalgic discography to her new musical experimentations, Anitta always keeps her roots at the core of her music, as well as her personal mission of heightening Brazilian culture and music at a global level. Seems like she succeeded: she was first Brazilian artist to be nominated for  Best New Artist at the GRAMMYs after 50 years. She’s s also the first solo latina act to reach No. 1 on  Spotify.

3. Karol G

Karol G is a Colombian musician among the most remarkable voices of current-day reggaeton and Latin trap sphere. 

With catchy, acclaimed hits like “TQG” and “Watati” in her discography, Karol G was the first female artist to reach the top of the Billboard 200 charts with her all-Spanish language album, Mañana Será Mas Bonito, in 2023. 

4. Kali Uchis 

Karly-Marina Loaiza, better known as Kali Uchis, is a Colombian-American musician. With a love for bossa nova, funk, pop, and R&B, the singer-songwriter started making mixtapes in her room in Virginia and dreamed up imaginary music videos until she became her own hero with  her breakthrough album Isolation, in 2018.

To Uchis, her bilingual tracks are made unique by her experience growing up with Latin inspirations. “The energy, the feeling, the smells in the air from the street food. There’s so much magic in Colombia. I feel like being able to also call Colombia my home, it was such an important part of my introduction as an artist, too, because it’s such a big part of my life as a human being,” she said in an interview with NPR. 

5. Peso Pluma

Peso Pluma’s age doesn’t stand between his success  or the top of the Spotify charts. At only 24, the Mexican artist gained the accolade of Most Listened Global Artist with “Ella baila solo”, which features melodic, laid back rap.

Besides reggaeton, trap, and rap, the narcocorrido subgenre also appears in his discography. Especially popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the style mixes danceable, polka, waltz, or mazurka as a base, as well as sounds from the older generation of Mexican musicians, like Junior H, Natanael Cano e Fuerza Regida. 

6. Danna Paola

Even if you haven’t heard Danna Paola, you’ve probably seen her in the Netflix hit Elite as the beloved Lucrecia. 

The multitalented Mexican artist has been in the entertainment industry since she was only five years old. Since then, she has reinvented herself constantly and ventured into telenovelas, musical theater, and, of course, music.

Since the release of her self titled album in 2012, Danna realized that there are no rules when it comes to art. She has dipped her toes in Latin pop-rock, reggaeton, and pop, achieving accolades like a Latin Grammy nomination with her 2021 record K.O.

7. Slipmami

Nicknamed as Malvadeza – or “Wickedness” –, Brazilian rapper and songwriter Slipmami has been redefining the genre on her terms. 

With nods to nerd and carioca culture, uninhibited wordplay, and themes of female sexual empowerment, the Rio de Janeiro artist introduces herself through rhythms that marked her childhood, like ‘90s and Y2K hip-hop, afro punk, and trap. 

Starting out independent, Slipmami penned nationwide hits like “Oompa Loompa” and “Malvadeza.” She released her first album in 2023, cementing her singular musical identity and the charm only a Gen Zer can translate into hits.

8. Rauw Alejandro

As part of the new generation of Latin, urban musicians, Puerto Rican singer Rauw Alejandro showcases how music doesn’t have a language, genre, or any other barriers.

The singer first began uploading music on SoundCloud and YouTube in 2013 and was launched into stardom with the groovy summer anthem “Todo de Ti,” which struck his first entry at the Billboard Hot 100. 

Tackling hip-hop and trap as well as other typical, Latin rhythms like funk and reggaeton, Rauw never shied away from diving into different musical experiences, and trying new things, as seen on versatile, fun projects like Vice Versa (2021). 

9. Tini

Before conquering the charts with her reggaeton and pop tracks, Argentine singer-songwriter Tini began her career at just 10 years old, as an actress. Now at 26, she amasses over 6 billion streams and holds the title of the #1 Argentine female artist on Spotify.

With four albums released in Spanish, English, and Italian and a history of success inherited from her Disney Channel days as Violetta, the singer has coined Latin music essentials like “Tini Tini Tini,” “Mientéme,” and “Te Quiero Más.”

Her latest studio album Cupido, released in 2023, is filled with female collaborations and vulnerable moments, all of which embody the singer’s tact of pairing simple yet resounding lyrics with an addicting fusion of urban pop, cumbia, and electronic beats. 

10. El Alfa El Jefe

El Alfa El Jefe, or simply El Alfa, is a Dominican rapper known as the “king of dembow,” a rhythm native to the Dominican Republic that influenced the sound of reggaeton and has been fused with trap and other genres with time.  

At 17, El Alfa began pursuing music. Now at 32, the artist has established himself with gritty hip-hop, dancehall, and groovy songs, issuing hits like “Cocha Bomba,” “La Mamá de la Mamá,” and “Plebada,” as well as star-studded features with Cardi B, Camilo, and Bad Bunny. 

11. Becky G

As one of the most influential artists of her generation, Becky G has conquered the music space both in English and Latin. With multi-platinum singles that go as far back as 2014 (hello, “Shower”!), the artist has been constantly reinventing herself and her sound through number-one hits like “Sin Pijama,” “MAMIII,” and “Mayores” — all Latin music essentials. 

12. J Balvin

With 51 million monthly listeners on Spotify, J Balvin is no stranger to any music or radio listeners out there, whether we are talking Latin music fans or not. 

Known for his contributions to reggaeton and its blend with genres like hip-hop, pop, and EDM, the Colombian singer has been one of the figures leading the new generation of Latin artists towards the top of the charts. Even while currently being on a break, his sound continues to impact and influence other singers.

BONUS: Shakira

The Colombian singer debuted with rock and roll, latin, and arabic music influences and has been reinventing her sound ever since she was 13 through countless, influential singles like “Whenever, Wherever,” “Beautiful Liar,” “Waka Waka” and her latest viral sensation, “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” with Bizarrap.

As the inspiration of other Latin artists like Maluma, Becky G, Karol G, and Natti Natasha, Shakira has established herself as THE Latin music titan.

Isabella Gemignani

Casper Libero '23

Isabella Gemignani is a National Writer for Her Campus and editor-in-chief of Her Campus Casper Libero. She covers everything culture-related for the national website - and oversees her chapter's content production, which involves editorial, social media, podcast and events verticals and makes up a team of over 100 girls. Beyond Her Campus, Isabella writes for the architecture and design magazine Casa e Jardim, Brazil's oldest magazine currently in the editorial market. With a 70-year-old history, Casa e Jardim is known for its traditional culture, gastronomy and lifestyle curation. When not writing – which is rare –, Isabella can be found reading classic novels and looking for new music releases that remind her of the feeling she had when she listened to AM for the first time.