Latin music wrapped up a successful 2020 with astonishing chart achievements, and the arrival of a new generation of exciting acts singing in Spanish. As we greet the new year, our editors have combed far and wide to gather the 22 artists who we think will have a major impact in 2021.
Our selections are informed by chart achievements, streaming totals, overall quality, and gut instinct. From an Argentine DJ to a Colombian singer of Mexican music, here are our 21 Latin acts to watch in 2021, listed in alphabetical order.
Alaina Castillo (Chosen People)
Will Alaina Castillo go for English or for Spanish? The Houston-born singer/songwriter navigates easily between the two languages, infusing both with a heady mix of R&B that enhances lovely, breathy vocals. Most definitely one to watch, with potential to grow in many spaces. — LEILA COBO
Alex Rose (WK):
Signed to Walter Kolm’s newly launched WK Records, Puerto Rican Alex Rose has already netted major chart traction with “Jangueo,” the extremely catchy reggaetón/pop hit alongside Rafa Pabón. “Jangueo” spent 19 weeks on Spotify’s global 200 chart and made us dance a storm. But the versatile Rose can go more mellow in tracks like “Bendición” alongside Emilia. — L.C.
Bizarrap (Dale Play Records)
After launching his career in 2017 by uploading videos on YouTube of freestyle battles, Argentine producer and DJ Bizarrap became a force behind Argentina’s trap movement. His Bzrp Music Session and Bzrp Freestyle Sessions on YouTube, which surpass the 100 million views, have allowed him to collaborate with fellow emerging and promising trap artists from Argentina (Nicki Nicole, Nathy Peluso, and Cazzu), delivering edgy and fire trap anthems. Signed to Dale Play Records, Bizarrap has solidified himself as the country’s go-to trap producer, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes his crossover to the American market. — GRISELDA FLORES
Cami (Universal Music Chile)
Chilean singer-songwriter Cami has made a name for herself in the pop/rock world, thanks to her profound and achingly personal lyrics that touch on heartbreak, lust and grief. Her bold album Monstruo scored the emerging artist her first Grammy nomination and is up for best Latin rock or alternative album. “Monstruo is a super intimate album. I wrote it from a dark, vulnerable place and in a state of transition,” Cami previously told Billboard. “It’s beautiful to see that these types of songs can connect with people.” The 24-year-old, who started playing the flute at 6 years old, is now focused on her third album which she says will be super “feminist” and “powerful.” — G.F.
Carin Leon (Tamarindo Recordz):
Although the Mexican singer/songwriter had been around since 2014, as lead singer of grupo Arranke, he seriously caught our eye only last year, when, in the middle of the pandemic, he released a two-part live album of acoustic banda and norteno music, Encerrados pero Enfiestados, which highlights his poignant vocals. Beyond the album, the singer placed three songs on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart last year alone, including “Me la aventé,” which spent 16 weeks on the chart. His appeal goes beyond the realm of Mexican music; this week, Spanish rapper C. Tangana announced he’s featured in one of the collabs of his upcoming album, El Madrileno. — L.C.
Saban Music Group’s uptempo pop bet earned her second No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart in October with “Te Quiero Baby,” her Spanglish remake (alongside Pitbull) of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The success, following an earlier spell at the top of the chart with “Further Up (Na Na Na Na Na),” also with Pitbull and Israeli pop duo Static Ben & El, lays the groundwork for a promising 2021. –-L.C.
Danny Felix (Fonovisa / Universal Music Group)
With singles such as “Impala Tumbado,” the Matt Hunter-assisted “Malas Decisiones,” and most recently, “Mala Experiencia,” Danny Felix is getting on the radar as one of the promising newcomers in the Regional Mexican scene. The Phoenix-based singer-songwriter and producer is known as one of the pioneers of the trap corridos movement, and has produced some of Natanael Cano’s biggest hits, including the remix of “Soy El Diablo” with Bad Bunny. Felix, who formed part of his family’s music group at the age of 10, has also produced music for Luis Coronel, Tito Tobellino Jr., and more. Not afraid to experiment, Felix fuses traditional Mexican folk with hip-hop influences in his music, and even sings in Spanglish. Felix’s debut album Vuelve drops on Jan. 29. — JESSICA ROIZ
Eladio Carrión (Rimas)
Eladio Carrión’s moodier, more thoughtful brand of trap stands out in a crowded space. Laced with instrumental intros and highly personal lyrics, his newest album, Monarca, landed at No. 8 on Billboard’s Latin Rhythm Albums chart — only his second entry ever on a Billboard chart (the first being his 2020 album Sauce Boyz). The fact that the Kansas-born, Puerto Rican bred rapper is aiming high with full-length albums with a clear identity gives us hope for his future. — L.C.
Elena Rose (Guerrera de La Luz)
Venezuelan singer-songwriter Elena Rose started 2021 with a bang. Credited as one of the songwriters behind Selena Gomez’s “De Una Vez” – Gomez’s first Spanish-language single in nearly a decade – and Daddy Yankee and Marc Anthony’s hit collab “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta,” Rose has demonstrated her songwriting chops. The 25-year-old, who in the past has written for Becky G and Rauw Alejandro, made her debut as a singer in 2020 with three empowering singles: “Sandunga,” “Fenomenal” and “La Ducha,” all of which put her soothing and soulful vocals at the forefront. — G.F.
Evaluna Montaner (Sony U.S. Latin)
The youngest member of the Montaner family is known both for her spiritual fare and for her uptempo, uplifting pop, including her hit single “Por primera vez” alongside hubby Camilo. In 2021, expect a full-fledged album highlighting Montaner’s luminous vocals, all augmented by support from Camilo and brothers Mau & Ricky Montaner — plus her own legion of diehard fans, who’ve made her a huge TikTok and Instagram star. — L.C.
Jay Wheeler (Linked Music / Empire)
Hailing from Guayamo, Puerto Rico, Jay Wheeler (real name: Jose Angel Lopez Martinez) has positioned himself as one of the new romantic voices in reggaetón. His fans even gave him the nickname “La Voz Favorita,” because of his melodic tone and heartfelt lyrics. After being discovered by DJ Nelson in 2018, Wheeler dropped his breakthrough 2020 hit “La Curiosidad” with Myke Towers, which landed on various Billboard charts including Latin Airplay, Billboard Global 200, and peaked at No. 5 on Hot Latin Songs. “My love for music comes from when I was a kid,” he told Billboard. “My mom, my dad, and my grandmother sang in church and I would always watch musical movies. I played the piano in my church and I began creating all types of beats when I got my first computer.” — J.R.
Junior H (Rancho Humilde)
A promising act in the regional Mexican realm, Junior H placed two top 10 albums on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart in 2020: Atrapado En Un Sueño debuted at No. 5 and Cruising With Junior H arrived at No. 9. Born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, the 19-year-old singer-songwriter – signed to Rancho Humilde – deftly fuses trap, R&B and sierreño in his often nostalgic tunes, which serve as the perfect background to his potent lyrics. Junior H promises to go even deeper with his lyrics in his forthcoming album SadBoyz4Life due in February. — G.F.
Khea (Interscope Records)
With his raw lyrics about love, heartbreak, and street life, Khea (real name: Ivo Alfredo Thomas Serue) is part of the new wave that’s putting the Argentine trap and hip-hop scene on the map. He first gained international recognition in 2017 with his sensual track “Loca” featuring Cazzu and Duki, which was then remixed by Puerto Rican star Bad Bunny. Khea has since unveiled a string of hits, such as “Vete,” “Como Le Digo,” and most recently his team up with Natti Natasha and Prince Royce on the Lenny Santos-assisted “Ayer Me Llamo Mi Ex” remix, flaunting his sugary vocals and versatility. Last year, Billboard announced Khea’s signing to Interscope Records. — J.R.
La Ross Maria (829 MusicMundial)
La Ross Maria (real name: Rosa Maria Pineda) is a rising Latina rapper hailing from the Dominican Republic, who kicked off her career in 2020 but is already creating a buzz. In her single “Mi Regalo Mas Bonito,” the new talent flaunts her hoarse yet delicate vocals in an empowering freestyle about respecting women and treating them like princesses. The teen MC, who signed to record label 829Music Mundial last year, already received the stamp of approval from Romeo Santos, whom appears on the remix to her “Tu Vas A Tener Que Explicarme.” La Ross kicked off 2021 with her reggaetón-pop track “Mi Plan Contigo.” — J.R.
Manny Cruz (Manny Cruz)
Making the rounds since 2016, Dominican-based artist Manny Cruz is keeping merengue music alive, one song at a time. Brother of the Latin Grammy-winning Daniel Santacruz, Manny’s tropical fusions and feel-good music have also garnered the attention of the Latin Recording Academy. A four-time Latin Grammy nominee, the merenguero was nominated for best merengue/bachata album for Bailando Contigo and best tropical song for his collaboration with Elvis Crespo on “Imaginarme Sin Ti” last year. — J.R.
Maria Becerra (300 Entertainment)
Rising Argentine singer-songwriter Maria Becerra joined 300 Entertainment’s roster in 2020, becoming the first Latin artist signed to the indie label. A standout in Argentina’s burgeoning trap scene, Becerra has yet to drop a debut album, but she’s turned heads the past year with songs such as “Tú Me Lo Haces Facil,” “High (Remix)” and “Animal,” which show off her versatility, incorporating elements of hip-hop, trap, and R&B. “I just want my music to be listened to worldwide and become a leading female voice in Argentina,” she previously told Billboard. — G.F.
Marca MP (Marca MP)
Marca MP formed in 2018, but it was their 2019 hit “El Güero” that brought them to mainstream prominence. Fueled by its success on TikTok, the song (about an honest, hardworking man) also received a hit remake by the trio alongside Grupo Firme. Composed of Pedro “Chato” Vargas (vocals, composer), Diogenes Bojorquez Lopez (requinto, second voice), and Esteban Salcedo (tuba), the young Modesto, Calif.-based group is bringing their own twist to banda, corrido, and Sierreña music. Marca MP is currently nominated at the 2021 Premio Lo Nuestro for Sierreño song of the year for “El Güero.” — J.R.
Nathy Peluso (Sony Music Latin)
With a degree in Pedagogy in visual arts and dance, the latter is a crucial part of Nathy Peluso’s music videos and performances. But besides her fierce choreography, Peluso’s soulful vocals and unapologetic, in-your-face lyrics have gotten her on the map as a true one-of-a-kind artist. The Argentine-born, Barcelona-based sensation, a current viral star with her Bizarrap-produced “BZRP Music Sessions #36,” was a two-time nominee at the 2020 Latin Grammys. She discovered and began exploring her talent when she would write street poetry and rap bars as part of the then-underground hip-hop movement in Spain. “My music has an honest identity. If I create music from the heart, it will always be different,” she told Billboard. “Summarizing it to one genre or a specific style would be lying to you.” — J.R.
Nuevo Elemento (Sony Music Latin)
Crowned as the winners of Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento’s 23rd season, Nuevo Elemento became the first-ever regional Mexican boy band to hit the mainstream. Composed of Lilo Bermúdez, Yahir Garduño, Danny Rea, Carlos Gabriel and Hector Osobampo, the band is now signed to Sony Music Latin, and their first single — a mariachi-style ballad titled “No Andes Con Nadie” — previewed Nuevo Elemento’s debut album, which is set to drop this year. They promise the LP will be an eclectic set, to reflect its members’ versatility and diverse voices. “That’s what I love about the project — that we get to sing banda, mariachi, norteño, a little bit of everything,” says 21-year-old member Danny Rea. “That’s only possible because we all come from different backgrounds.” — G.F.
Ovy on the Drums (Warner):
Most people know Ovy on the Drums (real name: Daniel Oviedo) as the producer to major stars, including Karol G, for whom he’s worked on in big hits like “Bichota.” But for the past year, the Colombian-born producer and composer has also delved deeper into his career asa singer, signing with Warner as a recording artist and releasing tracks with a Caribbean feel with the likes of Mau & Ricky (“Sigo Buscandote”). Now, Ovy has begun the year placing his first-ever track on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. “Miedito o Qué?” featuring Danny Ocean and pal Karol G has spent two weeks on the chart.
Silvana Estrada (Glassnote Records)
In 2020, Mexican singer-songwriter-producer Silvana Estrada became the first Latin artist to be signed to indie label Glassnote Records. The Natalia Lafourcade-approved artist has shown off her commanding, deep and impressive vocals on her feel-good and intimate pop-folk tracks, such as “Para Siempre” and “Carta.” “I sing my songs and I feel good,” Estada previously told Billboard. “And the miraculous thing is that they make the people who hear them feel good too.” — G.F.
Yeison Jiménez (Fonovisa/Universal)
We’ve all heard about regional Mexican music — but how about regional Colombian music? Enter Yeison Jiménez, who meshes his own Colombian elements and instrumentation with regional Mexican instruments like trumpets, accordion and violin. It’s a yummy mix that’s quickly gaining traction inside Colombia. Outside, Jiménez is shaping up to be the country’s most likely new musical ambassador. — L.C.