Remember when you first heard Shakira? Or the first time “Gasolina” played on the radio? How about the moment when you were sure you found the next big Latinx star, after hearing some of their early music? While we have a number of incredible artists we grew up listening to, whose music inspires generation after generation, there is nothing like being in the know about cool, underground musicians who we know are going places.
It’s our responsibility, to find these artists and share them with the world. Because, we can’t complain that there aren’t enough Latinx music and musicians getting worldwide, mainstream shine if we aren’t actually helping to shine the light on them in the first place. We did some research and found 15 dope artists who are grabbing people’s attention, growing a loyal following, and who are poised to become Latinx stars. Let’s learn about them.
The first Latinx artists we are shining a light on is New York-by-way-of-Colombia band Combo Chimbita. Made up of Carolina Oliveros (lead vocals, guacharaca), Prince of Queens (bass, synths, vocals), Niño Lento (guitar, vocals), and Dilemastronauta (drums, vocals), their sound has been described as combining “vibrant, folkloric, psychedelic, tropical and futuristic music with Afro-Latinx rhythms into something otherworldly.”
According to the group’s Bandcamp, Combo Chimbita “draws on “traditional music from everywhere: Panama, Caribbean, Colombia, tamboritos, ‘70s funaná from Cape Verde, kompa from Haiti, cumbia, dub and reggae from Jamaica. ‘We try to incorporate it in a way that if feels ours, so you hear these influences there but they come from our background, and our background is heavy rock, psychedelic funk and soul,’ says guitarist Niño Lento.”
Isabela Cristina Corrêa Lima Lima, a.k.a IZA, is an Afro-Brazilian pop and R&B singer, songwriter, and dancer, who used the power of the internet to launch her career. On YouTube, she would post cover songs she would perform, which led to a record deal with Warner Music Brasil. In 2018, IZA released her first studio album, Dona de Mim, and will drop Brisa on April 18.
“Mexican expats based in Portland and Los Angeles,” Fabi Reyna (vocals, guitar, bass) and Sumohair (producer) make up the band known as Reyna Tropical. The alt.Latino duo formed after meeting at Red Bull Academy’s Bass Camp at Bonaroo, and have been recording together ever since. Their EP, also called Reyna Tropical, was released in 2018.
Hailing from Inglewood, Inner Wave is Pablo Sotero (guitar, vocals), Chris Runners (keys, vocals), Jean Pierre Narvaez (bass, vocals), Elijah Trujillo (guitar, keys), and Luis Portillo (drums). The SoCal band makes music which has been described as “alien space rock” by Teal Magazine, and “moody psychedelia” according to Noisey.
Next on our list of Latinx artists to watch is Greeicy. The 26-year-old Colombian singer (in the genres of pop, balada, and bachata) and actress has already collaborated with stars such as Anitta (for “Jacuzzi”), Nacho (“Destino”), and David Bisbal (“Perdon’). Last year, the talent was named by Billboard as a “Latin Artist on the Rise.”
Bogota, Colombia’s MOÜGLI played SXSW this year, sharing their sounds with a new audience. Juan Pablo Delgado and Samuel Lizarralde (Luisa Quiroga was once with the group) mix tropical sounds from Colombia’s diverse cultures with electronic music, to create what the duo call a “Jungle Beat.” When their single, “Manglar” was released on Spotify and Apple, it blew up online in a matter of days, in countries including Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, and Argentina.
Afro-Cuban Funk is how our next artist describes his music. Cimafunk, a singer, composer, and producer from Cuba, mixes “funk, Cuban music, and African rhythms” in what he calls an original fusion, “a musical “mestizaje” (miscegenation) whose lyrics come directly from the Cuban streets. This tropicalized funk is designed to get you dancing!” His first solo album is called Terapia, and was released in 2017.
Dominican-Cuban rapper Melii got her foot in the music industry’s door by putting her spin on fellow Dominicana’s hit, “Bodak Yellow.” The Harlem native mixes her earliest influences — Latin music with rap, to create her sound, in two languages. Tidal named the artist the “Rising Artist of the Week” on September 17 of last year, and Melii recently shot for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty (which included some bars).
Next, on our roundup of Latinx music artists, you should listen to now — before they fully blow up worldwide — is Paloma Mami. The Chilean singer released her own single, “Not Steady,” with gained attention and got her signed to Sony Music Latin’s U.S. roster. The New Yorker, named by Billboard as a “Latin Artist on the Rise,” describes her own particular sound in R&B urbano as having “an elegant flow” (with no references to drugs or sex).
Mariah, formerly known artistically as Mariah Angeliq, is a 19-year-old Puerto Rican-Cuban artist to watch. The Miami singer, whose music Billboard described as a “pop/urban/R&B mix,” released the feminist, women’s empowerment jam, “Blah,” which grabbed a lot of attention. Billboard added Mariah to its list of “5 Female Latin Artists to Keep on your Radar in 2019.”
Ecuadorian-French producer Nicola Cruz makes music that reflects “an interest in ancestral Latin American cosmology,” with a focus on the Andean and African roots, which make up South American identity. His “carefully created analogue sound” can be heard on 2015’s Prender el Alma, and the more recent Siku.
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Born in Venezuela, but D town raised me ! Pueden leer toda la entrevista en la revista de mi hometown @indoralmagazine 🖤 Todos mis Doralians encuéntrenme en sus puertas & pónganme en sus neveras 🤪 A los demás les dejo el link en mis stories❣️🌹 gracias a todo el equipo!! Dis is cooooooool 🖤✨
Venezuelan Manu Manzo released her first, indie EP in 2015, entitled Como Soy. It led to the Miami artist being nominated for Best New Artist at the 2015 Latin Grammys, and to performing at the inaugural Billboard’s Latin Power Players event last year. Her second EP, Intermediate, was released in 2018.
Our next Latinx artist to watch is Argentinian rapper Paulo Londra. In 2017, the Hip-hop artist uploaded the song, “Relax,” which led to big collabs, including with Becky G (“Cuando Te Bese”), Piso 21 (“Te Amo”), and “Nena Maldicion,” with Lenny Tavarez. A hallmark of Londra’s music is the avoidance of negative themes such as violence and drugs.
Sech, born Carlos Isais Morales, is a Panamanian rapper, singer, and producer, who was part of the group El Combo de Oro. His album, The Sensation, was released in 2018. When he released the single “Tu Pollo,” featuring Justin Quiles, in 2017, it was reported that the song was played over 22 million times.
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¡YA ESTÁÁÁ! #QueBuenoQueFuisteTu 🦋 Link en la bio. 😱🏜 • No puedo pasar por alto agradecer a los talentos que colaboraron para que esta portada quedara taaaaaan cool 🤩✨ ¡Los quiero mucho! Fotografía: @theoscarvalle Maquillaje: @ivanfeernandez Peinado: @jesusesquer Estilismo: @palomaeescobar
The final musical act on the list of Latinx stars on the rise is Sinaloa, Mexico native Carolina Ross. She rose to fame by posting covers and original songs to her YouTube channel — she now has over 1.9 million subscribers. In 2013, she came in third place on the third season of the reality singing competition La Voz. Carolina Ross’ latest album, Buena Señal, was released last year.