From Q-pop visionaries to teen rap sensations, here’s a list of who we have our eye on this year
2023 was a star-making year for Latin artists across genres. One of the biggest stories was, of course, the global ascent of música mexicana, which opened the door for sensations like Peso Pluma, Grupo Frontera, Fuerza Régida, and Junior H. In Puerto Rico, powerhouses like Young Miko and Omar Courtz paired up with the biggest names in urbano and dominated the scene, while rappers like Dillom and Taichu made waves in Argentina. At the Latin Grammys, the Latin Recording Academy tipped its hat to pop-icons-in-the-making in the Best New Artist category, which included Gale and Joaquina, who won the award.
But the new year always brings the promise of breakthrough acts and rising stars. Already, there are tons of newcomers stirring things up and demanding attention: The 19-year-old singer Xavi might be one of the most talked-about forces of 2024 after his song “La Diabla” reached No. 1 on Spotify’s global chart in January. Meanwhile, artists like J Noa, RaiNao, and Junior Zamora are ready to ride the momentum they built last year straight into the coming months. And elsewhere, we’re excited to see what Q-pop innovator L E N I N, dancehall dreamer GodDessey, and Chilean plug upstart AKRIILA have in store. Here are the artists we’re most excited about in 2024.
No one sounds like RaiNao – and that’s probably because few artists have a background as interesting and eclectic as hers. After training as a saxophonist and studying music theory in Puerto Rico, the ultra-talented multi-hyphenate provided back-up vocals for her classmate and fellow singer Rafa Pabon. Then, she branched out on her own, using her versatility and production know-how to blend urbano, jazz, and pop sounds to her will — and 2024 is only going to show off even more her skills. – J.L.
J Noa already stole the show in 2023. The 18-year-old Dominican rapper stormed onto the scene, impressing fans and hip hop veterans with her intricate lyrics and breakneck delivery. Her EP Autodidacta earned her a Latin Grammy nomination (the title track got a nod for best rap/hip hop song), and other moments — a parade of potent, visually captivating singles and a show-stopping Tiny Desk concert, for example — are reminders that she’s just getting started. – J.L.
L E N I N
We have been waiting for a visionary pop star like Peru’s L E N I N. Since debuting in 2019, he’s woven K-pop theatricality with the ancestral poetry and teachings of indigenous Quechua. Last summer, the leading voice of Q-pop unleashed his soaring EP AMARU I, packed with strobing singles “Kutimuni” and “Amarullaqta,” and cinematic, intricately choreographed videos heralding his idol destiny. – R.V.
Since dropping his debut EP in 2021, Dei V has been at the forefront of a new cohort of Puerto Rican traperos. He’s kept rising to the top with vibey collaborations alongside peers like Yovngchimi and Jay Wheeler, packing his verses with clever bars referencing everything from Bible verses to Dragon Ball Z. Karol G noticed and tapped him for her Bichota Season song “Gatita Gangster,” and he even joined her onstage at MetLife Stadium last summer. Now, he’s got his eyes on bigger plans: He’s set to release his debut album in Q1. – T.M.
Moffa’s career kicked into a high gear in 2022 when he was invited to collab on “Un Viaje” alongside Karol G and rising reggaetoneros Jotaerre and Alejo. The Puerto Rican upstart hasn’t slowed down since: His impressive work ethic and output gave way to a dozen singles last year alone, each one more compelling than the last. Cementing himself as one of the most promising acts on the island, he’s positioned to have the kind of year that turns rookies into stars. – J.J.A.
This young quartet has become a hit through word-of-mouth in Puerto Rico, amassing an ever-growing fanbase and catching the attention of popular artists like Buscabulla, Kany García, and Grammy-winning producer Eduardo Cabra. Their music is a feast of Latin jazz, bolero, and folk music that also incorporates flashes of alternative hip-hop. Between their new EP Tierra coming out soon and more surprise collabs in the wings, they’re in for a well-deserved breakout year. – J.J.A.
If Selena Quintanilla could see how her musical legacy endures 30 years after her death, she’d look no further than Estevie. The Mexican-American singer, signed to Lizzo’s Nice Life, is a promising new face in cumbia, effortlessly modernizing the genre’s traditional sound with futuristic, synth-fueled pop energy. After releasing the aptly named EP Cumbialicious last year, Estevie has kept growing, embracing a visual identity that recalls the carefree cowgirl spirit of Alicia Villarreal — while bringing her own twist to the classics. – T.M.
One of the most impressive things about reggaetonero Álvaro Díaz is his preternatural talent for identifying not just what’s hot right now, but what will be hot in the future. His last album Felicilandia tapped into the simmering fusion between alt-perreo and electronica in ways that put him ahead of its contemporaries — and the singles for his upcoming album Sayonara prove that he’s got his finger on the pulse and plans to keep pushing the genre forward. – J.J.A.
Following a year of uproarious reggaeton hits from Bellakath and Dani Flow, Mexico could become the genre’s next hit factory. Enter Charly Gynn: the fast-rapping Mexico City vixen and co-founder of label Tempvs Music is digging her stilettos into the rich tradition of cumbiatón. While vampy collabs with perreo DJs Chekesito and Pedro Fuentes made her a TikTok favorite, Gynn’s smoldering crossover with R&B chanteuse Foudeqush on “Asesina” solidified her audacious versatility. – R.V.
Earlier in his career, Junior Zamora – the singer from Cali, Colombia – drew listeners in with his sleek, silken voice and his ability to strike the emotional center of refined R&B ballads. But while his early breakthroughs like “Algo Personal” and “CAFÉ” deployed a softer sound, recent cuts from his EP Drama Vol. 3 bounce between funk grooves (“Doce”) and a full-on rap performance (“Perro Rabioso”). All of it sets Zamora up as a maverick who can do it all. – J.L.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter Xavi is poised to become música mexicana’s next breakout star: He started the year with a bang after his song “La Diabla” reached No. 1 on Spotify’s global chart, making him the first artist of Mexican descent to land at the top with a solo track. Considered a “tumbadito romantico,” he’s won fans over with his more romantic sound – and his backstory, which includes recovering from a near-fatal car accident, proves there’s even more strength and resilience embedded in his artistry. – T.M.
A native of the island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras, bilingual dancehall singer GodDessey crafts sunkissed waist-winders that intersect with her Garifuna roots and waves of West Indian emigration. This tapestry of influences is reflected in her smoldering 2022 debut EP Ascension, which spanned praiseful TikTok favorite “Holy Fire.” And just before the new year she released “Cocoh,” a dewy celebration of island nightlife and the first taste of her forthcoming record. – R.V.
Peruvian-born, Queens-bred rapper A.CHAL built a dedicated fan base a few years ago with distinct urbano hits like “000000” and “Love N Hennessy.” But after a brief career hiatus, he’s back with an entirely new sound: Recent tracks like “Saico” and “Walk on Everything” have seen him embracing new wave and punk styles, a total 180 musically. What prompted the creative metamorphosis is a mystery for now, but one that is sure to make for an exciting year, for both old and new fans of his music. – J.J.A.
The heir to Miranda!’s electropop throne, Argentine singer and producer FERMIN proved his understanding of the evolving language of pop music, making the astute leap from his rock-rooted 2021 debut Orden y Progreso to the shimmering, thumping epics of 2023’s Todo Sobre La Nada. Production work on breakthrough records for Dillom and K4 propelled his rising star, but it’s his giddy hybrids of house and baile funk that prophesy a new age of Argentine pop. – R.V.
The Cuban singer Daymé Arocena won over the jazz world with her mighty vocal prowess, but this year, she’s starting a new chapter in her career. After leaving Cuba just before the pandemic, Arocena began experimenting with pop music and channeled her stunning abilities as a singer onto buoyant productions that blend the past and present. “American Boy” and “Suave y Pegao,” which features Rafa Pabon, speak to her versatility and another side of her artistry. – J.L.
The rising Chilean plug powerhouse debuted early in the pandemic with a string of xan-ed out singles packed with malcriada bars. However, her 2023 LP 001 roped in Chilean rap superstar Harry Nach on “Xeraton,” later collaborating with Dominican producer Diego Raposo on a jittery slice of UK garage titled “Al Contrario.” AKRIILA is slated to perform at Lollapalooza Chile and Mexico’s Festival Ceremonia this Spring, soon to be seen around the globe. – R.V.
Updating bachata traditions with a devilish dose of street savvy, Los Sufridos debuted last year with a series of catchy, explicit songs and stylized music videos starring buzzy dembow collaborators like Kiko el Crazy and La Mas Doll. Though they intersected with the viral resurgence of merengue típico, the Dominican trio has kept injecting singles like “Peluche” and “Duro de Verdad” with genre-faithful instrumentation and codes for a new generation of revelers. – R.V.
MJ Nebreda’s music was made for dark, queer Latine warehouse parties. The Venezuelan-Peruvian singer released Arepa Mixtape last year, a wild ride that laces sultry, neo-perreo and dembow with sexually empowering lyrics. The most refreshing thing about Nebreda? She never fears experimentation, boldly fusing pan-Latin sounds with European house on several tracks. Her music is “perreo para la depresión” and in many ways para el futuro, too. – T.M.
Five years after their debut album, the Dominican alt-rock band Solo Fernández is ready to have one of their most consequential years yet. They’ve kept fans engaged with two recent EPs, but their sophomore album, Las Cosas Que No Me Dije, is due in February. They’ve already released multiple singles, including a pop-drenched collab with Mexican dance duo CLUBZ. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also in the third year of Solofest, their successful music festival that brings a diverse array of indie acts from around Latin America to the band’s native D.R. – J.J.A.