April 2019


1. Daddy Yankee (featuring Snow) – Con Calma

About 15 seconds into the song you’ll recognize Daddy Yankee’s clever sampling of Snow’s 1993 smash “Informer.”  Putting a slightly raunchier twist on the early 90’s relic, Yankee intelligently appeals to his American audience by bringing it up to date. In the song, he’s mesmerized by a woman’s sensuous dancing. He can’t keep his eyes off her body. There should be no surprise that a song in praise of dancing would end up becoming a club scorcher. Listen to Daddy Yankee’s hot, Latin dance version of the song.

2. Bad Bunny (featuring Drake) – MIA

When translated to English, these lyrics are incredibly sweet and wholesome. Bad Bunny and Drake vow to do “everything” for their girls offering repeated reassurance with “you are mine”.  Drake’s singing in Spanish works wonderfully, especially because it is such a rarity. The upbeat song sounds relatively generic, but when seasoned with such nice lyrics, it’s hard not to smile. It’s smoother beat is a great backdrop for when you’re chilling poolside or for a quiet walk in the woods.

Bad Bunny combined with Drake makes for a power duo similar to his work with Cardi B.  Their “I Like It” has nearly 800 million streams on Spotify while “MIA”, which was released back in October, sits with a little over 500 million plays.

3. Pedro Capó X Farruko- Calma

Pedro Capó comes from a musical family. His father, Bobby Capó, was a famous singer in the salsa community. This is the second song in the top five to feature the word “Calma” (calm).  Staying true to its title, “Calma” sits on a laidback slower tempo. It tells a tale of unwinding in the serenity of a Puerto Rican beach watching the waves while drinking Sangria with a girl. Capó does a great job promoting a place he obviously loves – maybe more than the girl – by declaring “there’s no need to leave Puerto Rico”. Listen to “Calma”, which features a rap from Puerto Rican reggaeton artist, Farruko.

4. DJ Snake (featuring Selena Gomez, Ozuna, and Cardi B) – “Taki Taki”

This is a song that has been floating around radio stations for quite some time. Almost every bar seems to play this track, which makes it nearly inescapable. DJ Snake primarily creates trap music, exemplified by the memorable track “Turn Down For What”. How could anyone forget that song, which builds to a crescendo as Lil Jon chaotically chants the lyrics as if they were a mantra to live by.

Six years later, DJ Snake proves with “Taki Taki” that he’s capable of building a song with a more structured format. “Taki Taki Rumba” suggests an “illness to dance” and DJ Snake’s bachata-esque beat accurately backs up the suggestion. This track exemplifies the perfect recipe for a Top 100 song. The presence of Selena Gomez and Cardi B give it global appeal resulting in the song going top ten in over thirty countries.

5. Manuel Turizo – Sola

Colombian, Manuel Turizo’s reggaeton sound, with its catchy dance hooks, has burst onto the scene over the past few years. “Sola”, much like the other songs in the top five, describes a woman’s enticing dance moves. But “Sola” means alone, and this girl wants to be by herself. Still, our hero is able to win over her heart to get her to dance with him. The song describes the isolation the two feel amidst all the other dancers on the floor. When together, they are capable of ignoring everything else. To check out the song, listen here.

More than ever before, we are seeing the inclusion of Latin music in mainstream entertainment. Once a niche, Latin sub-genres like reggaeton and flamenco are weaving themselves into the fabric of pop culture and succeeding. The artists who are leaving their mark by reaching a broad market and topping charts represent an untapped musical vein, one rich with its own melodies and sounds.

The crossover began when a few of these artists found a way blend in the influences of contemporary popular music in a way that didn’t drown out their Latin roots. With the current state of affairs, it’s easy to understand why this is an important time for Latinx artists and influencers to step into the spotlight and tell their stories. Fans all over the world are able to see past the language barrier and connect with the spirit of the music, bringing a mass of people from all different backgrounds together. One of these artists, Colombian singer J Balvin, has become a leader in this wave of pan-Latin music by marrying pop and reggaeton in an smooth, unapologetic style.  

José Álvaro Osorio Balvin, who goes by J Balvin, was born on May 7,1985 to a middle class family living in Medellín, Colombia. Growing up with an interest in American rock music, Balvin was deeply influenced by Nirvana and Metallica. He even went on to cover the Nirvana hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in live sets. Then he discovered reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee and was so inspired by the flows and style that at age 14 he decided to pursue his own career as a reggaeton artist.

When he turned 17, he moved to Oklahoma as part of an English exchange program where he was disappointed to find the experience was nothing like the American movies he had seen as a child. He decided to move back home to Medellín, where he studied international business at EAFIT University before fully committing to music. In his early performance years he was known as J Balvin “El Negocio”, or “The Business.” While rap battling and self-promoting in the clubs of urban Medellín he met DJ, David Rivera Mazo who became his business partner. The two quickly began collaborating on musical projects. By age 20 Balvin signed with EMI Columbia Records. That’s when he released the single that changed everything, a song entitled “Yo Te Lo Dije”. This single put him on the map and within a year he was signed to Capitol Latin. 

Already a star in the clubs of his hometown, he truly broke through in the United States with his Billboard topping song “6 AM” featuring Farruko. In February of 2014, the song debuted at number 43 on the Billboard charts and by that spring had reached number one. Since then, J Balvin has been a pillar in the Latin pop community, collaborating with several other up and coming Latinx artists.

Many credit the success of other reggaeton artists such as Nicky Jam and Farruko to J Balvin’s ability to popularize a new wave of reggaeton and spread it to the masses. Camilla Cabello also cites Balvin as one of her musical influences. The two have collaborated on the 2017 The Fate of the Furious soundtrack featuring “Hey Ma” with Pitbull. His most famous hit is a collaboration with Cardi B and Bad Bunny on the number one single “I Like It”, which was released in May, 2018. It reached number 7 on the Billboard charts and was named 2018’s Song of the Year by Apple Music. The music video for “I Like It” has over 900 million views on YouTube. 

Now J Balvin is known for his signature minimalist style and gentle delivery, greatly appealing to a wider audience by using pop melodies in his songs and singing over the beats. He stays true to his roots by partnering with Medellin-based writers and producers Alejandro “Sky” Ramirez and Carlo Alejandro “Mosty” Patiño on several of his tracks.  Way to walk the line.