It’s exciting to see women like, Karol G, Becky G, and Natti Natasha making big moves in reggaeton music. but they aren’t the first to do so. Women have been contributing to the genre for decades, adding their own spin and perspective to the male-dominated music scene. They don’t get as much shine as the men — that’s for sure, but these women have put in the work, knocking down walls and blazing a trail for all the other ladies to follow. While you probably know the legendary Queen of Reggaeton, Ivy Queen, there are so many other women out there just as talented as some of the kings of reggaeton like Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderon. Here are the 15 Latinas who opened the doors for all the younger ladies in reggaeton to walk through, allowing them to make their mark in modern musica.
Puerto Rican reggaeton star Ivy Queen will always be “La Caballota,” “La Diva,” y “La Potra.” Queen was one of the first Latinas to rise to the top in the musical genre of reggaeton and she did it without copying the guys. She unapologetically incorporated femininity and a big dose of empowerment into her music, changing the way we all thought about reggaeton. Ivy also didn’t fall for the played-out formula that in order for women to succeed in a male-dominated musical genre, they have to be oversexualized (and in the process, pander to men). She set the path for Latina reggaeton artists following her to just be themselves. Que viva la reina!
Ivy Queen is the first name that comes to mind when speaking about OG women in reggaeton, but there’s a Latina reggaeton artist who was dropping bars before “La Diva.” Lisa M, also a puertorriqueña, is credited as being the “first female rapper to debut in Latin America. Her first album, Trampa, came out in 1988 when she was just 14 years old. Lisa M’s music is said to fuse different genres, such as reggaeton, pop, rap, and merengue. In addition to rapping (which she still does), Lisa is also a singer, composer, producer, DJ, and dancer referred to as “The Queen of Spanish Rap” and “La Suprema.”
Also hailing from Puerto Rico is Afro-Latinx reggaetonera La Zista (also known as La Sista). Regarded as the “Mama Inés of reggaeton,” her first album, Majestad Negroide dropped in 2006. La Zista has been applauded for celebrating her Afro-Latina roots in her music and repping for the few Afro-Latinxs in the genre (although the genre’s roots are in Jamaica and Panama). Four of La Zista’s songs have appeared on the Billboard charts: “Se Le Ve,” “Se Desvive Por Ella,” “Stripper,” and “Anacoana.” We recommend checking out her music, as well as that of other women in reggaeton that haven’t been given their due shine.
It’s no surprise that several women who are pioneers and OGs in the genre of reggaeton are from Puerto Rico. That’s because after it got its inception from the melding of Jamaican and Afro-Panamanian influences, reggaeton was further molded in Puerto Rico, by artists such as Vico C. Another female artist who helped pave the way for the plethora of reggaetoneras today is Valerie Morales. She started making music in 2003 and had released her debut album, Mi Flow in 2006. She has collaborated with artists including Daddy Yankee, Eddie Dee, and fellow Puerto-Rican female reggaeton artist K-Mil.
Puerto Rican- American Twins Natalie and Nicole Albino of Nina Sky provided a Latina touch to some of the biggest male reggaeton hits. The two also had their own non-reggaeton hits with “Move Your Body,” “Turnin’ Me On,” and “Curtain Call.” They afterwards lent their vocals to the reggaeton songs “Oye Mi Canto” (by N.O.R.E., also featuring Daddy Yankee, Gem Star, and Big Mato) and “Mas Maiz” (by N.O.R.E., also featuring Big Mato, La Negra of LDA, Fat Joe, Lumidee, Chingo Bling, and Lil Rob). Nina Sky had the first lady of reggaeton, Ivy Queen on their 2006’s “Ladies Night.”
K-Mil (also known as K-Mill) is a reggaeton artist from Puerto Rico, who has been in the music game since 2003 when she released her first song, “Quien Tiene Mas Flow.” She has collaborated with other Latinx music artists, such as Nicky Jam, La India, and Tito Nieves. The four artists collaborated on the song, “Ya No Queda Nada” which topped the Billboard Tropical Songs chart in 2006. Although she has made a lot of music, K-Mil hasn’t released her own debut album — yet. She recently shared on her Instagram account that she’s currently working on new music.
Also known as “La Gata Gangster,” Glory is the feminine voice you’ve heard on songs such as Daddy Yankee’s monster hit (and classic), “Gasolina,” and Don Omar’s “Dale Don Dale.” The Puerto Rican reggaeton artist also has had some hits of her own, notably “La Tracionera,” which featured Don Omar, “La Popola,” and “Perreo 101.” Can you believe that Glory has been recording music since 1995? Her latest album was 2005’s Glou, and she appeared on nine reggaeton compilation albums from 2003 to 2006. We would really like to see Glory make new music and collaborate with the reggaetoneras of today.
Dominicana Deevani is a reggaeton artist we included on this list of OG reggaetoneras to know. Raised in Puerto Rico, she is known for providing the Hindi vocals on Daddy Yankee’s “Mirame” and Tito El Bambino’s and Beenie Man’s “Flow Natural.” Deevani (which means “crazy girl” in Hindi), was able to infuse Latinx reggaeton with the dope sounds of India. Deevani was exposed to Bhangra music and Bollywood movies through her husband, who is from Bangladesh. But it was her brother, Francisco Saldaña of Luny Tunes, who first inspired Deevani to get into music when he asked her to work for his company.
La Atrevida/Rude Girl
With a name like La Atrevida/Rude Girl, this reggaeton pioneer wasn’t trying to mince words with her music. The Panamanian artist stepped on the scene in the early ’90s, when the genre of music was known as reggae en Español or Spanish reggae. She appeared on the compilation album Dancehall Reggaeespañol in 1991 and released her own album, titled 100% Latina, in 1996. We are totally here for a La Atrevida/Rude Girl comeback. We have been seeing other female reggaeton pioneers emerging with new music or currently working on new material, and we can’t wait to see how the OGs bring their style into 2019 and beyond.
Next, on our list of the old-school female reggaeton artists we should all know about and thank for opening the genre’s doors for women, is Demphra. She is nicknamed “La Willa” and “La Diva del Reggaeton.” The Panameña had hit songs, such as “Tilin Tilin,” “El Muslo,” and “Ush,” off her debut 1999 album, La Willa Demphra. After that, she joined the reggaeton and Reggae en Español group La Factoria, which included fellow Panamanian reggaetonera Joycee Love, Goodfella, DJ Pablito, and Joey Montana. They had hits such as “Perdóname,” and “Como me Duele.” Demphra was the last member to leave La Factoria and did in 2013.
Jenny La Sexy Voz
Jenny La Sexy Voz lent her voice to several big reggaeton songs. Probably the best-known one is the hit “Rakata,” by Wisin y Yandel.” Although she wasn’t rapping on these songs, the Puerto Rican singer proved that many reggaeton hits benefited from feminine vocals. It was proof that men in reggaeton needed the presence of women to make a song feel complete. But unfortunately, female voices were often used in sexual and exploitative ways. Regardless, the sheer presence of women in the genre back in the early ’00s allowed other upcoming female artists to feel inspired and create reggaeton music that was all their own.
Next, on our list of the OG Latina reggaetoneras you need to know is Lorna. The artist hails from Panama and had a hit song with “Papi chulo…(te traigo el mmmm)” in 2003. The jam became a top-five song in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. She also was a part of songs that touched on important issues like, “Paola,” a Kafu Banton song that highlights drug abuse and “Ya no pienso en llorar,” a song about domestic abuse. Lorna showed that you can have a balance in reggaeton, between fun, sexy songs, and those that make you think.
Another OG Latina reggaeton artist to come out of the Panamanian group La Factoria was Joycee (also written as Joysi) Love. She left the group in 2008 in pursuit of a solo music career, but before she decided to do so, she sang and wrote the hit song, “Todavia.” Along with Demphra, who was also a part of La Factoria, Joycee became one of the known faces of reggaeton in the Central American nation of Panama. She helped open doors for many women to have a chance at also becoming stars in the genre.
Reggaetonera artist Farina was born in Colombia and is of Peruvian and Chinese descent. She is credited with being a pioneer of reggaeton music in Colombia and the first Colombiana to tackle the genre. By doing this, she automatically opened the doors for fellow Colombian artists like Karol G to do the same. Farina’s first album dropped in 2006 and is named Yo Soy Farina. Since then, she has collaborated with artists such as Wyclef Jean, released a ton of singles, and got signed to Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation. Her most recent album was 2012’s Del Odio Al Amor, but she is currently promoting a Latin trap song she did with Catalyna called “Alma Desnuda (Remix).”
Finally, there’s Adassa, known as the “Reggaeton Princess.” The Miami-born, St. Croix-raised Afro-Colombian released her first album in 2007, titled On the Floor. She released two more albums after that including, 2005’s Kamasutra, and 2007’s Adassa. In 2017, she dropped a single featuring Pitbull called “Loca.” In addition to Mr. 305, Adassa has collaborated with other artists like Juvenile, Lil Jon, Daddy Yankee, Vico C, Wisin Y Yandel, and many more. Seriously, all this Latina excellence is making us pray for a mega collaboration of all-female reggaetoneras in the style of Los 12 Disipulos.