?Backstory: Yosdany “Jacob” Carmenates, aka Jacob Forever, 33, spent nearly a decade as part of Gente de Zona before pursuing a solo career in 2013. A year later, Gente de Zona tore up global charts with hit single “Bailando.”
Going it alone: Forever floundered after the badly timed split, until he channeled his grief into a hit. “I dedicated the lyrics to myself,” he says of the chin-up reggaetón anthem “Hasta Que Se Seque el Malecón” (“Until the Pier Dries Up”), which is No. 10 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
What’s next: Forever signed with Sony Music U.S. Latin in April and will release El Invicto (Unbeatable) this fall.
?Backstory: The Guantanamo duo’s 2002 debut on Cuban label Egrem introduced its novel sound, a modern take on the politically minded 1960s folk genre nueva trova — and made Buena Fe (which means “good will”) local stars.
The mission: “We try to live up to our name,” says 43-year-old Israel Rojas (Buena Fe’s other half is Yoel Martinez, 36) of the pair’s music — and politics. “We want to reach the left and the right.”
What’s next: A North American tour starting in June and their first internationally distributed album later in 2016, released by Metamorfosis (the label run by Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona).
?Backstory: A singer-songwriter who spans boleros and alt-rock, Fuentes, 31, made waves in Cuba with her 2009 debut Amargo Pero Dulce (Bittersweet), which was produced by “Bailando” co-writer Descemer Bueno.
Big break: 2014’s Planeta Planetario, Fuentes’ debut album for Sony (she is the label’s first female Cuban artist since Celia Cruz) came on the heels of becoming a U.S. resident through her marriage to Calle 13‘s Eduardo Cabra. “It used to be that we had to abandon our identity to succeed outside of Cuba,” she says. “Now, we can be ourselves.”
What’s next: Fuentes will start work on a new album, produced by her husband, in July.
?Yomil y El Dany
?Backstory: Roberto Hidalgo Puentes, 24 (aka Yomil), and Daniel Muñoz Borrego, 27 (El Dany), earned moderate success as reggaetón duo DpuntoD before parting ways in 2011. Neither has musical training: Before they joined forces, Hidalgo was a mechanic and Muñoz was a medical student.
The sound: “Tengo,” a dembow remix of Nicki Minaj‘s “Truffle Butter,” marks the pair’s first single since reuniting in 2015 as Yomil y El Dany. The name of the band’s revamped sound? “Trapton,” a blend of trap and rap with reggaetón — “a very American change,” according to Yomil.
What’s next: Sources say the duo is in serious talks with U.S. labels.
This article was originally featured in the June 4 issue of Billboard.