In the video for their global smash “Despacito,” Puerto Rican natives Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee lead a vibrant community-wide bembé -- a joyous tribute to the island’s rich culture and musical history, with plenty of perreo-style grinding for good measure. “Puerto Rico is the true protagonist of this song and this video,” Fonsi told Billboard in 2017. The historic clip -- still YouTube’s most-watched of all time -- reached a new milestone in February when it passed 6 billion views. The celebration was short-lived, however: Nine months after its debut, “Despacito” became a rallying cry for an island in crisis when Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017. Following the storm -- which left nearly 1.4 million without power and a reported death toll of 2,975 -- an estimated 130,000 people (roughly 4% of the population) left the island, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The global musical influence of Puerto Rico, known as “La Isla del Encanto” (“The Enchanted Island”), is undeniable. Considered the birthplace of Latin music’s urban movement, the U.S. territory today dominates Billboard’s Latin charts with its latest offshoot -- Latin trap -- embraced by its new class of star exports. Five of the top 10 acts on the year-end 2018 Top Latin Artists chart were of Puerto Rican descent: Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna. The lattermost artist made history at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in April as the biggest single-year winner by collecting 11 trophies, including artist of the year. Also among the island’s Boricua (another term for “Puerto Rican” that derives from its indigenous Taíno heritage and language) are many of Latin music’s top 1% -- from Rita Moreno, Jose Feliciano, Ednita Nazario, Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin to Don Omar, Residente and Kany García.