Shakira, Ozuna, Rosalía, Maná and Romeo Santos

The 50 Best Latin Albums of the Decade: Staff List

For Latin music, the decade started inauspiciously. Revenue was down and labels were tightening their rosters. But as we look back to 2010, we find a year of exciting, ambitious albums, rife with experimentation.

They set the stage for what would become Latin music’s big comeback, fueled by a streaming revolution, the explosion of urban music and a bounty of new artists. Billboard’s Latin staff traversed genres and countries to bring you our top 50 albums of the decade, arranged below by year of release.

La Vida Boheme, Nuestra (2010)

Caracas band La Vida Boheme exploded onto the international music scene with the subtlety of a Molotov cocktail. Led by the Ramones’ inspired single “Radio Capital,” the 2010 album Nuestra sent a prophetic message about the declining social and political situation in Venezuela that was at the same time universal. The band’s punk and new wave sound, retrofitted with tropical roots, and its call to rebellion are impossible to ignore. -- JUDY CANTOR-NAVAS

Shakira, Sale el Sol (2010)

Long before pop/urban collabs were the norm, Shakira tested the waters with songs like “Loca” (feat. El Cata) and “Gordita” (feat. Calle 13). But Sale el Sol was also beautifully evocative in songs like its title track. With few female acts around her in the mainstream at the time, Shakira showed that gender did not define success in any genre. -- LEILA COBO

Calle 13, Entren Los Que Quieran (2010)

Full of unfiltered witty lyrics and experimental mini-masterpieces, Calle 13’s Entren Los Que Quieran brings to the forefront the duo’s feelings on many controversial topics. “Calma Pueblo,” performed along with The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez, is a message to critics, driving home the fact that authenticity has bred their success, while the topical “Latinoamerica” features social and historical commentary from singers Susana Baca (from Peru), Toto La Momposina (Colombia) and Maria Rita (Brazil). Entren Los Que Quieran nabbed Calle 13 nine awar?ds at the 12th annual Latin Grammys including album of the year. -- JESSICA ROIZ

Dejarte de amar, Camila (2010)

Some of Camila’s timeless hits live on their sophomore studio album. Mario Domm, Pablo Hurtado and former member Samo launched a collection of 11 magical tracks that navigate pop, rock, a tad of blues and lots of soul, tied together with gorgeous harmonies. “Bésame,” “Mientes,” and “Alejate de Mi” are some cuts that still connect with people of all ages. “Dejarte de Amar,” which was the last album released before lead singer Samo left the group, nabbed the 2010 Latin Grammy for best pop album by a duo or group. -- J.R.

The Chieftains feat. Ry Cooder, San Patricio (2010)

The Chieftains, Ireland’s most iconic folk group, made a ballsy move recording San Patricio, an homage to the fabled San Patricio -- or St. Patrick’s -- batallion of Irish soldiers, who defected from the U.S. army to fight for Mexico in the Mexican American War of the 1800s. Featuring collaborations with the likes of Linda Ronstandt, Los Tigres del Norte and Chavela Vargas, this stunning and progressive album is an example of kinship and artistry through music, with not a single accusation of cultural appropriation. -- L.C.

Ivy Queen, Drama Queen (2010)

At a time when women were simply not properly represented in the Latin urban landscape, Puerto Rico’s Ivy Queen totally broke paradigms with her provocative, blunt Drama Queen. Armed with beats, melodies and a healthy dosage of love, Ivy Queen showed it's not necessary to sexually bare it all in order to be the Queen. -- L.C.

Cachao, The Last Mambo (2011)

The Cuban master Cachao’s? Grammy-winning final album, The Last Mambo captured a triumphant concert recorded in Miami in 2007, when he was 89, just months before his death. Cachao is accompanied by multigenerational Latin greats including Cándido Camero, Alfredo de la Fe, Dave Valentin and Jimmy Bosch on the poignant set, which paints a portrait of the pioneering bassist, a brilliant and innovative artist with uncommon grace. -- J.C.N.

Drama Y Luz, Mana (2011)

After a five-year hiatus, Latin rock’s most successful band pushed the boundaries of its comfort zone with this ambitious album, full of grandiose tales -- including “Sor María,” the story of an errant nun, which also features dragons, and "Lluvia al Corazón,” which compares one’s hopeful situation to that of a free and flying butterfly -- grandiose arrangements, and of course, plenty of rock n’ roll. This was an album full of hits, but also full of risks. -- J.R.

Romeo Santos, Formula, Vol. 1 (2011)

After leaving Aventura in 2011 to embark on his solo career, Romeo Santos dropped his debut album Formula, Vol. 1, marking territory as the “King of Bachata.” The 20-set production includes a hilarious intro featuring Mexican comedian George Lopez, as well as hit tracks “La Diabla,” “Llevame Contigo,” and “Debate de 4" -- the latter of which sees Santos joining forces with bachata veterans Anthony Santos, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez. Vol. 1, which is Santo's longest-leading title on Billboard's Top Latin Albums (17 weeks in 2011-12), also fused bachata with flamenco (as heard in “Mi Santa,” featuring Spanish guitarist Tomatito), showcased Santos’ romantic pop side in “Rival” (featuring Mario Domm), and dipped into Spanglish with “Promise," a collab with American pop star Usher. -- J.R.

Jenni Rivera, Joyas Prestadas (2011)

While Jenni Rivera would always be at heart a banda singer, she was capable of much more. In Joyas Prestadas, her last studio album, she set out to demonstrate how big her range of action could be, recording covers of beloved songs in two genres: pop and banda. Bigger than life, Rivera delivered in both, a rare feat. The double-duty set, released a month before her death, showed that regional Mexican music could live outside its niche, and cemented Rivera’s stature as the most important female regional Mexican singer of her generation. -- L.C.

Ricardo Arjona, Independiente (2011)

After nearly two decades signed to major labels, the Guatemalan singer/songwriter went indie and released the aptly-titled Independiente on his own Metamorfosis Records. It debuted at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, with two tracks, including the guitar driven “Te quiero,” reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart. An album of wonderful songs set to acoustic arrangements (with “Mi novia se me está poniendo vieja,” dedicated to his mom, a particular highlight), Independiente was Arjona’s triumph of music over industry. -- L.C.

Alejandro Sanz, La Música No Se Toca (2012)

Penning songs about love, heartbreak and music as usual, Alejandro Sanz’s 12th studio album was also his first album on Universal Music Latino after 20 years with Warner. “I needed a change,” Sanz told Billboard. “Starting again is like renovating your illusions." The set includes songs highlights as the alternative funk jam “Camino de Rosas,” the chart-topping “No Me Compares,” and the Latin Grammy-nominated “Mi Marciana.” Sanz said that his objective with this album was to create a monumental album of symphonic pop, and he certainly succeeded. -- J.R.

No Te Va Gustar, El Calor del Pleno Invierno (2012)

No Te Va Gustar’s sublime rock reached a peak on  El Calor del Pleno Invierno. A key album for the nine-member band formed in 1994 in Montevideo, it went platinum in three days after its release in Uruguay and propelled the band to double-Platinum status in neighboring Argentina, confirming their place in the pantheon of Latin rock’s biggest stars. Key tracks include “Nada Fue en Vano" and “A las Nueve.” -- J.C.N.

Prince Royce: Soy El Mismo (2013) 

Prince Royce returned to his bachata roots with this bilingual album of beautifully crafted hits, including the bittersweet title track. In Soy el Mismo, Royce wanted to go to basics, and he does -- with only one collaboration, alongside superstar Selena Gomez on “Already Missing You." -- SUZETTE FERNANDEZ

Carlos Vives, Corazón profundo (2013) 

Following an eight-year absence from the Billboard charts (and largely from recording), Vives returned to a No. 1 spot with his beautiful Corazón Profundo, which includes some of his best writing in years, and was his first album of new material since 2004. The album’s linchpin is “Volví a nacer,” which parallels Vives’ musical rebirth with his emotional rebirth, and which debuted at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs. With other hits like “Bailar Contigo” and “Como le gusta a tu cuerpo,” the set demonstrated that comebacks are possible and that Colombian trop-pop was still very much alive. -- L.C.

Draco Rosa, Vida (2013):

Vida, the life-embracing collaborative album, could have been Draco Rosa’s swan song. Instead, it set a new bar creatively and commercially for the Puerto Rican rocker, who started out as a member of boy band Menudo. The album debuted at no. 1 on Top Latin Albums chart and went on to win the Latin Grammy for album of the year and best Latin Pop album at the Grammys. Vida was produced in the artist’s Los Angeles studio, after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, for which he underwent a successful stem cell transplant. "Some doctors thought I'd be dead in a few months. I thought, 'Well, if this is it, at least I did this record with my peers,” he told Billboard when the record was released. Vida ("Life") includes tracks with Ricky Martin, Romeo Santos, Shakira, Alejandro Sanz and Juanes, and. "Esto Es Vida," his duet with Juan Luis Guerra, is one of the most beautiful love songs -- and life-loving songs -- of the decade. -- J.C.N.

Marc Anthony, 3.0 (2013)

Heralded by the instant anthem “Vivir Mi Vida,” Marc Anthony’s triumphant return to salsa was the biggest-selling Latin album that year. Produced by Sergio George, 3.0 proved the staying power of the salsa sound, and, more so, Marc Anthony’s enduring superstardom. -- J.C.N.

Romeo Santos, Formula, Vol. 2 (2014)

Santos has an uncanny knack for writing tracks that get stickier by the listen: Even if you’re not in love with bachata, you will be in love with these lyrics. Collabs with Drake, Marc Anthony and Nicki Minaj showed Santos' increasing international pop clout at mid-decade, with songs like “Cancioncitas de amor” and “Propuesta indecente” showing just how potent he'd become as a hitmaker. On the charts, Vol. 2 was crowned as the top Latin album of the decade. -- L.C.

Enrique Iglesias, Sex & Love (2014)

Iglesias’ Sex and Love is a parade of landmark hits, from “Bailando” with Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona as well as "Loco" (featuring Romeo Santos) and "El Perdedor" (featuring Marco Antonio Solis). A precursor to “Despacito” and “Mi gente” in global scope, Sex & Love is a tour de force. -- S.F.

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Enrique Iglesias, 'Sex & Love'

Vetusta Morla, La Deriva (2014)

The crowds at Vetusta Morla’s concerts, which have also been called simply “massive karaoke” sessions, ballooned after the release of La Deriva, the Madrid group’s fourth album -- setting the stage for Vetusta to claim the title of Spain’s most popular rock band. The opening title track, followed by “Golpe Maestro,” leads the listener down a rabbit hole of guitar anthems and hypnotic ballads that are admittedly hard not to sing at the top of your lungs. -- J.C.N.

Plan B, Love and Sex (2014)

Back in 2014, before Latin really trap took off internationally Plan B -- the duo made up of Chencho and Maldy -- were getting pretty explicit in their highly produced reggaetón tracks. “I don’t know why, but every time I see you, Mami, all I kind think about is sex,” they wail on “Choca,” one of the many carnally focused tracks on Love and Sex. Although they at times sound like lustful teenagers, Plan B’s sophomore album broke lyrical barriers, and would usher the era of highly explicit Latin songs. -- L.C.

Juan Luis Guerra, Todo tiene su hora (2014): Guerra, always an adventurer of tropical rhythms, went all out with this exquisite set that integrates everything from big band to doo-wop to danzón into his merengue and bachata.  Arrangements that go from elegant to hard-hitting make this a must-listen for anyone who wants to understand the scope of tropical music. -- L.C.

Laura Pausini, Similares (2015): 

Laura Pausini's stunning voice sparks with intimacy in her twelfth album -- where, for the first time, she dedicates songs to two important people in her life: her father, with the song “Lo Sabias Antes Tu” and her daughter on “A Ella Le Debo Todo.” To present the album to the press, the Italian star used her imagination and created a short film that explained each song. "It's a record that has what I see when I close my eyes," Pausini previously told Billboard. -- S.F.

Farruko, Visionary (2015)

Puerto Rican singer Farruko found his perfect sound with Visionary. Mixing Caribbean beats, reggaetón and reggae, among other sounds, the 14 track set debuted at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums. Farruko cast a wide net for the set, including collaborations with Messiah, Kymani Marley, Pitbull, Nicky Jam and Shaggy. “It’s a little futuristic. All the rhythms, all the melodies, all the song concepts have to do with what’s happening in social media, in clubs,” Farruko told Billboard. -- S.F.

Natalia LaFourcade, Hasta la Raiz (2015):

Natalia LaFourcade’s sixth studio album traverses through intricate arrangements of classic pop, folk-pop and vintage bossa nova. Lafourcade’s honeyed vocals, bookended by subtle string lines, jab out phrases of contemplation, detachment, wistfulness and acceptance. Ricocheting smoothly between introspective moments and a relationship double-take, the set is a dialogue of breakup, draped in uplifting song writing and a deep connection to her Mexican roots. The set won LaFourcade 2015 Latin Grammy awards for best alternative music album and best engineered album, and even a Grammy award for best latin rock, urban or alternative album in 2016. -- PAMELA BUSTIOS

Nicola Cruz, Prender el Alma (2015): 

Ecuadorian electronic artist Nicola Cruz cunningly melds conventionalism with modernity as he plays with a variety of sounds that gently flow through a series of harmonic flurries. In Prender el Alma, his music traverses through intricate instrumentation where experimental beats clash with ancestral sounds like the Peruvian cajón, Andean sikú (zampoña; pan flute) and the bombo. -- P.B.

Carla Morrison, Amor Supremo (2015)

Mexican alternative chanteuse Carla Morrison pours her heart out once again on this sparely-produced electro-acoustic set of dreamy confessional songs. No sophomore slump for Morrison, who won two Grammys for her debut Dejenme Llorar. But Amor demonstrated there was a place and a market for great alternative music. -- L.C.

Gloria Trevi, El Amor (2015)

The Mexican diva -- because she is a diva, in the good sense of the word -- is also a killer songwriter. But in El Amor, Trevi dug deep into the Latin music songbook to find the most representative love songs, as seen from the point of view of men and women; in fact, she performs dressed as a man and a woman. El Amor, produced by Humberto Gattica is a vocal tour de force where Trevi covers music by the likes of Roberto Carlos and Manuel Alejandro. This is an album of sheer beauty, and anyone who still didn't respect Trevi as an interpreter will emerge changed. -- L.C.

Juan Gabriel, Los Duo (2015) 

Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Marco Antonio Solis and even Fifth Harmony gladly joined Juan Gabriel on 16 of his deliciously dramatic hits. This set of revamps of the kitschy classics that have defined Latin pop romance is simply irresistible, leaving listeners no choice but to sing along. Los Duo earned the 65-year-old Gabriel his first No. 1 on Top Latin Albums in 18 years. -- L.C.

Intocable, Highway (2016):

Intocable’s Highway is an homage to life on the road and the many twists and turns it takes along the way. More important, this rich, textured album puts accordion-based norteño music at a whole different level of musical excellence. Songs like “Día 730,” a story about a the disappeared women of Juárez are must-listens, in any genre. -- L.C.

Diego el Cigala, Indestructible (2016)

While his gravelly voice, rooted in deep flamenco, contrasts with the higher vocal range of the great soneros of salsa, Diego el Cigala passionately connects these different musical traditions, evoking their roots in Spain and Latin America and a history of musical fusion, dance and romance. Indestructible could have been a novelty album; with Cigala and musicians who include Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, it’s a timeless gem. -- J.C.N.

Karol G, Unstoppable (2017)

“I want to show girl power,” said Karol G of her debut studio album in a man’s world. Unstoppable is home to 13 urban fusions including “Hello” in collaboration with Ozuna, the empowering anthem “A Ella,” her first trap jam “Ahora Me Llama” featuring Bad Bunny, and her personal favorite, the heartfelt acoustic “Lo Sabe Dios.” “I’ve been working on this album for four years. It tells all my experiences, all my feelings, and who I am,” she told Billboard when the album dropped.  Unstoppable debuted at No. 2 on the Top Latin Albums chart dated Nov. 18, 2017. -- J.R.

Ozuna, Odisea (2017)

Puerto Rico, known for its hard-hitting reggaetón, welcomed a hybrid in Ozuna, a singer with a crystalline voice whose songs could be as romantic and melodic as they were danceable. His debut album, Odisea, is a storyteller’s set from the opening title track, which tells the story of Ozuna himself, whose father was shot dead when he was only three years old. Full of poignancy and instinctual insight into the human condition, Odisea struck a nerve that went far deeper than the club floor, becoming the top-selling Latin album of 2017 and heralding the launch of perhaps the most successful Latin artist today. -- L.C.

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Ozuna, 'Odisea'

Nicky Jam, Fenix (2017):

Nicky Jam’s first album in 10 years was a 26-track tour de force where he bares his soul, candidly speaking of a career and a life almost lost to drugs and alcohol and recovered through music and perseverance. Fenix includes multiple collabs with reggaetón royalty like Daddy Yankee and J Balvin, and tt’s impossible not to celebrate its candor and musicality. “El amante,” a vintage Nicky Jam hit that manages to merge yearning with danceability, was nominated for best urban song and best urban fusion performance at the Latin Grammys, but should have also gotten a nod for song of the year. -- S.F.

Victor Manuelle, 25/7 (2017)

Manuelle celebrate his 25th anniversary not with a compilation album, but with one of the edgiest studio sets of his career. 25/7 features duets with the likes of Bad Bunny and Juan Luis Guerra, as well as solo tracks produced by a wide cast of producers, many hailing from reggaeton and urban worlds, which lend Manuelle’s salsa an obviously contemporary edge. In a bittersweet twist, 25/7 was also the first album Manuelle releases after his dad’s death in January, a poignant reminder that the foundation of his continued success are the words his father told Santa Rosa the day of his debut.The 9-track album gave the Puerto Rican salsa singer his 12th No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical Albums chart. -- S.F.

Jorge Drexler, Salvavidas de Hielo (2017)

Latin music’s philosopher king is in exquisite form on the album, finding beauty in chaos on a musical meditation on the human condition and the rhythm of the universe. Drexler poetically explores the theme of love as a safety zone and saving grace in the title song, a beautiful Mexican-tinged acoustic duet with Natalia LaFourcade that describes a relationship as a tenuous life preserver made of ice. Throughout this 2017 album with notes of trova, tropicalia and candombe, he reminds us of the necessary power of song. -- J.C.N.

Haydée Milanes feat Pablo Milanés, Amor (2017)

Haydée Milanés carries on the legacy of her internationally beloved father, Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanés, while rightfully claiming her own place in the history of song on Amor. The double set combines father-daughter duets, including “Ya Ves” and “El Breve Espacio En Que No Está” with collaborations with other artists, including the exquisite “Yolanda” with Omara Portuondo and a stirring “La Vida No Vale Nada” with Lila Downs. Beautifully framed by acoustic arrangements, Amor is a purely felt work of heart and soul. -- J.C.N.

J Balvin, Vibras (2018)

J Balvin is changing Latin music on his own terms and still staying true to his Colombian roots and reggaeton essence. His fifth studio album, Vibras, released May 25 via Universal Music Latino, is home to global hits such as “Machika” with Jeon and Anitta, “No Es Justo” with Zion & Lennox, and “Mi Gente” with Willy William. The set, which also includes mesmerizing collaborations with artists such as Carla Morrison and Rosalia, earned Balvin his second No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart (dated June 9). “I’m so grateful to my fans for always supporting me and for helping prove we can redefine mainstream by taking music in Spanish to new levels,” Balvin told Billboard. -- J.R.

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J Balvin, 'Vibras'

Banda Sinaloense MS, Con Todas Las Fuerzas (2018):

Banda MS, short and sweet for Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga, has been representing for the Regional Mexican genre and its loyal fans ever since their founding year in 2003. Their 13th studio album continues the legacy with banda gems such as lead single “Mejor Me Alejo,” written by Espinoza Paz. “Our music will always be needed,” Sergio Lizárraga previously told Billboard. “I go to our concerts and I see people dancing, singing and crying for three hours. Regional Mexican music is music for the people. And the people don’t tolerate distance between [themselves and] their artists.” Con Todas Las Fuerzas launched at No. 1 on Billboard's Regional Mexican Albums (dated Sept. 29). -- J.R.

Kany Garcia, Soy Yo (2018)

With powerful vocals, intimate lyrics and her signature allure, Kany Garcia dove deeper into her cultural essence with her fifth studio album, 11 tracks of elegantly polished and dynamically propulsive songs in which the Puerto Rican delved into fear and courage, honesty and liberation. The album is a confessional dialogue of intimacy through Latin pop, with  streaks of blues and Cuban trova, reaggae and bossa nova. -- PAMELA BUSTIOS

Mon Laferte, Norma (2018):

Chilean Mon Laferte’s conceptually storytelling 10-chapter set was produced by The Mars Volta/At the Drive In guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and cut live in one single take. The 2019 Latin Grammy-winner for best alternative album is fraught with brawny arrangements and harmonic flurries referencing her usual old-school rock n' roll demeanor boosted by classic mambo, psychedelic cumbia, an acoustic bolero and rhythmic pulsations. -- P.B.

Bad Bunny, X 100pre (2018):

Bad Bunny’s debut album, X 100pre was released by the Puerto Rican trap star as a Christmas Eve present to all his fans in 2018. The 15-tracks album, which includes collaborations with Drake (“Mia”), Diplo (“200 MPH”) and El Alfa (“La Romana”), debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart. More importantly, it established Bad Bunny as a force to be reckoned with and an incisive songwriter with a specific point of view. This was not a fad. -- S.F.

Maluma, F.A.M.E. (2018):

Maluma has said his genre of music is “Maluma.” He has a point: F.A.M.E., a non-stop parade of hits with excellent lyrics – many bilingual (there’s a duet with Jason Derulo) -- speaks directly to a new audience of fans, impossible to place squarely in either a reggaetón or a pop box. Instead, Maluma moves fluidly between both, marrying genres and beats with vocals that have dramatically improved, and can go from eloquent and melodic to edgy rap. Produced mostly by Maluma’s Medellin camp of Édgar Barrera "Edge" and “Rude Boyz” Kevin ADG & Chan El Genio (and with additional contributions by Timbaland and Scott Storch), F.A.M.E. was a major step forward both for Maluma and for the standards of pop/urban music.  -L.C.

Chucho Valdés, Jazz Batá 2  (2018):

Jazz Batá 2 celebrates the centennial of the birth of Chucho Valdés father, Bebo Valdés, and his own prolific and groundbreaking career. The renowned Cuban pianist traces the steps of African religious ritual’s journey into popular Cuban music, conjuring ancestral spirits, but also those of progressive jazz greats, classical composers and a century’s worth of Cuban popular music innovators. With the ease and confidence of his stature, Chucho brings to the fore the timeless grace and continuous innovation that marked his father’s career, and has characterized his own artistic output. -J.C.N.

CNCO, CNCO (2018): One could say that the blueprint for Latin urban pop is CNCO, the quintet created from reality TV  show La Banda, which has evolved to become the most successful boy band in Latin music today. CNCO’s sophomore album, which debuted at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, is a collection of melodic, mostly romantic tracks set to reggaetón beats, with rich, R&B-infused vocal harmonies. Lead single “Mamita” frames the group as a Latin, urban spin on One Direction, but with a personality all their own.

Anuel AA, Real Hasta la Muerte (2018)

After spending three years in prison, Puerto Rico’s Anuel AA came out of the gates swinging with his debut Real Hasta La Muerte, released the day he became a free man. A collection of 12 gritty, sometimes raunchy songs that are nothing if not real, the album veers into trap, not reggaetón territory, marking a before and after in a relatively new genre for Latin music, commercially speaking. Real debuted No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart (dated July 28). -L.C.

Gustavo Cerati, Fuerza Natural Tour, en vivo en Monterrey (2019)

Gustavo Cerati is one of those artists whose music will always be timeless. As the late frontman of Latin rock band Soda Stereo, the Argentine singer enchanted us with his voice and unparalleled guitar skills. Cerati passed away on Sept. 4, 2014, after suffering a stroke and never waking up from a subsequent coma. His legacy, however, continues in this posthumous release. The live two-album set and DVD captures the first concert of what would be his last tour, and includes 25 of his biggest hits as a solo artist including “Adios,” “Cosas Imposibles,” “Crimen” and “Cactus.” -- J.R.

Rosalía, El Mal Querer (2019)

At a time when Latin female stars are in scant supply, Rosalía managed to fuse high concept art with hip hop beats and visual imagery to create a compelling album that was also a radical departure, for any language or genre. El Mal Querer is first and foremost flamenco; a collection of songs based on “Flamenca,” a 14th century gypsy story. Writing and producing with El Guincho, Rosalía transformed the story of women held captive by her jealous partner into a contemporary musical tour de force structured in seamlessly linked chapters. El Mal Querer underscores how niche genres can garner mass appeal when excellence and distinctiveness come together. The set debuted at No. 10 on Top Latin Albums. -- P.B.

Los Tigres del Norte, En Vivo desde la Prision de Folsom (2019):

The norteño band’s En Vivo desde la Prision de Folsom doubles as the soundtrack to the Netflix concert documentary of the same name. Carrying on Johnny Cash’s Folsom legacy (the Man in Black’s live At Folsom Prison was recorded 50 years earlier), the San Jose-based band gave new life to its songs in this milestone live soundtrack album, with the first live concert recording from the prison since Cash’s which debuted at No. 10 the Regional Mexican Albums chart (Sept. 28-dated list.) The album’s lead single “La Prision de Folsom (Folsom Prison Blues)" is a Spanish-language version of Cash’s “At Folsom Prison,” which was created with the support of Cash’s son John Carter Cash and written in collaboration with his daughter-in-law Ana Cristina Cash, and was performed live for a new generation of bilingual inmates. - P.B.

Bad Bunny & J Balvin, Oasis (2019):

Rumors of a joint Balvin/Bad Bunny album circulated for two years before the two friends dropped Oasis with no previous announcement. The content was as surprising as the concept itself: Bad Bunny and Balvin collaborated in every single track, as if they were a reggaeton duet. It was unprecedented, and often brilliant. -- L.C.