Hispanic Heritage Month came to a close on Oct. 15, but the spirit of celebrating the contributions of Latinx people to American culture is timeless. We hear Latinx voices in the popular artists who frequently land on the top 100 hits, from Cardi B to J. Balvin to Camila Cabello; we experience Latinx contributions when we dance to reggaeton and bachata. “Music can be a sociological snapshot when it comes to communities with a direct or historical connection to Latin America,” says Felix Contreras, host of NPR podcast Alt. Latino. “It’s no accident that reggaetón’s musical trail also mirrors the many paths of immigration.”
10) Kali Uchis
Kali Uchis’ jazzy debut album, Por Vida, feels like the soundtrack to a whimsical, summertime romance. From the way the chords progress gently, to the smooth sound of her playing piano and saxophone, to lyrics like “Love is like a lottery / Can you take this chance on me?,” listening to Uchis’ first album is an honest yet mesmerizing exploration of the glory of love. Throughout her career, the 24-year-old artist always made her pride for her Colombian background clear, but now she’s making more and more music in her native tongue. In 2020 she released her second album, Sin Miedo, entirely in Spanish. She says the decision was about going back to her roots, although she knew she would lose English-speaking fans for it.
9) Queralt Lahoz
Up and coming Granadan star Queralt Lahoz just dropped her first album in 2021, but is already making strides in the music industry. A unique infusion of soul, R&B and flamenco music, there aren’t many musicians like her. Tune in for her sound, stay for her flair, thought-provoking words, star quality and the flawless visuals in each of her videos.
Rooted in the Dominican Republic but reigning in Harlem, NY, 23-year-old Audrey Ducasse, better known as Melii, began her musical career after being shouted out by Rihanna on her breakout hit “Icey,” and soon after releasing a viral bilingual remix of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.” Quickly becoming a favorite and one of the city’s top Latina artists, Melii dropped her first and only full album, phAses, which features everything from absolute self-assured head bops, such as “Gangsta Talk,” “I’m such a cocky b*tch, oh you ain’t know?” to vulnerable lyricism in songs such as Pretty Girls, “Almost took my life, who knew I’d be great?”
Hailing from Trujillo, Peru, Alejandro Chal Salazar, better known as A.CHAL, made a name for himself through his laid-back, melodic Spanglish tracks on his debut album, Welcome to GAZI. Infusing hip hop with R&B and Peruvian influences, A.CHAL consistently manages to transport both English and Spanish speaking listeners to cloud nine, or in his words, “To the Light.”
If you don’t know Bia’s name, you know her voice. Her song “Whole Lotta Money” went viral on Tik Tok and became a soundtrack to a classy, yet humble, hot girl summer. “I put on my jewelry just to go to the bodega,” rapped the Puerto Rican artist. All of her music evokes a sense of elegant confidence, yet rough assertiveness, making it no surprise that she says her inspiration is femininity. “I’m a girl’s girl at the end of the day. I love girls. I do it for the girls. That’s what all my music is about,” she said in an interview with Refinery29. Her song “SKATE” became the first song by a Black or Latinx person to be in a promotional commercial for the NHL.
5) Myke Towers
One of the crown jewels of the Urbano Latino genre, Myke Towers, representing Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, is one of the most revered Afro-Latino artists from the Caribbean to date. Heavily influenced by American rap legends like Jay Z, Myke manages to make suave tracks that often fawn women yet always exude masculinity, such as in his biggest hit yet, “La Curiosidad,” which conveniently features the next artist on the list, Rauw Alejandro.
4) Rauw Alejandro
As another Puerto Rican powerhouse, Rauw Alejandro, born Raúl Alejandro Ocasio Ruiz, has recently broken into mainstream stardom with his latest album, “VICE VERSA,” which is certified platinum in both the U.S. and Columbia. Songs such as the hopelessly romantic “Todo De Ti” and his seductive remix of Ir-Sais’ “Dream Girl” are summertime soundtrack essentials, but will never disappoint anytime of the year.
Dominican American singer, rapper, dancer, and choreographer, DaniLeigh, hails from Miami, Florida, and is renowned for her velvety vocals on “Easy” and commanding flows on her well known collaboration with Lil Baby, “Lil Bebe.” Her latest album, “MOVIE,” weaved bodacious rap with contemplative and decidedly relatable songs. It was accompanied by a brutally honest and emotionally charged visual project that proved that there is a lot of empowerment to be discovered through vulnerability.
2) Prince Royce
Prince Royce’s career started in the shower but solidified it during haircuts. He realized his talent in singing as a preteen singing in the shower and found the sounds he loved most in the Dominican barber shops in the Bronx where he grew up. Now, 75 music awards later, he’s loved for his charming, upbeat voice and lyricism. In a song he dedicates to those who feel ugly, he sings, “y el corazón no tiene cara,” which means “the heart has no face.”
YEИDRY’s sweet, earthy demeanor is followed up by sweet, earthy vocals, beats that will get you grooving whether you understand the lyrics or not, and song meanings worthy of tears. When Yendry Fiorentino was young, her mom left her in her grandma’s care in Santo Domingo so she could pursue a better life for them in Italy. Her song “Nena” is written from her mother’s perspective during that courageous move, including lyrics like, “Son las estrellas las que te aconsejan / Que el viento te lleve donde tú quiera… / Nena / Los angelitos te mando, te mando,” which means, “The stars will lead you / I hope the wind brings you where you want… / Nena / I send lil’ angels to you, I’ll send them.”