Formerly known as the little sister in Calle 13, Ileana Cabra – Ile – has emerged not only as a major talent but one whose voice we’d be wise to heed. “Odio” (Hate), leitmotif of our current conflictive age, gives name to a galloping, crescendoing ballad whose lyrics, while universal , were specifically inspired by the 1978 murder of two independence activists in Puerto Rico. It’s a visceral call for “recognizing our differences as people and from there arriving at the political solution as a social movement,” as Ile told Billboard. “It is important to learn to understand each other.” -J.C.N.
J Balvin & Bad Bunny, “Cuidado por ahí” (2019)
If Bad Bunny is the “bad guy” in Oasis, the collaborative album between Bunny and J Balvin. “Cuidado por ahí” is a role reversal. Here, Balvin takes on the opening lines, chanting and singing in a register far lower than usual before Bad Bunny picks up in a higher voice. It’s a musical switch that underscores how seamlessly these two work together. Set solely over a repetitive, sometimes disturbing beat, “Cuidado por ahí” is as addictive as it is unsettling. -L.C.
Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, Farruko & Anuel, “Baila, Baila, Baila” (remix) (2019)
Are five reggaeton stars better than one? In “Baila, Baila, Baila,” Ozuna’s original uptempo but slightly melancholy track about a girl who dances to forget morphs into a showcase for multiple voices and styles. With Ozuna’s distinctive voice singing the chorus as the unifying thread, “Baila Baila Baila” serves as a kind of canvas for the kings of reggaeton to improvise on. -L.C.
Sech feat. Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Anuel AA, "Otro Trago" (Remix) (2019)
Panamanian artist Sech took the music world by storm with his soothing vocals and sensual urban fusion melodies when he released “Otro Trago,” which translates to “Another Drink,” from his debut studio album, Sueños. The song, which features Puerto Rican artist Darell’s raspy urban voice, as well as star guests Ozuna, Anuel AA, and Nicky Jam on the fiery remix, narrates the story of a girl drinking and dancing her sorrows away at the club -- totally relatable to those going through heartbreak in 2019. With its infectious R&B-meets-reggaetón beat, the song quickly became a hit, nabbing Sech his first No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, and pushing the Panamanian music scene back onto the map in 2019. -J.R.
Rosalía feat. J Balvin & El Guincho, "Con Altura" (2019)