These are the five new Latin acts to watch in 2016:
Corpus Christi-based DJ El Dusty (real name Dusty Oliveira) was drafted by Universal Music Latin’s nascent EDM label as a dance floor heavy hitter. EP Trapanera, his first project for the label, more than met the promise when it was released in fall 2015.The self-proclaimed “ultimate Latin banger” has long been associated with the cumbia electronica movement, but his skills go beyond. El Dusty is adventurous when it comes to vintage cumbia, and he has an ear for unlikely but fantastic mash-ups (like fellow Corpus native Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom and Major Lazar’s “Lean On”). And with euphoric collaborations with 3BallMTY’s Eric Rincón and Miami’s Happy Colors among many other, he’s creating a new and distinctly Latino sound. The hyperactive El Dusty is no newcomer to the scene, but he’s made it clear that this party’s just getting started.
Born in the Netherlands to parents of Dutch and Dominican descent, Sanchez sings salsa with a voice that evokes Marc Anthony. A finalist on the 2011 season of The X Factor in his home country, Sanchez sparked interest when he sang salsa on the show, and slowly veered from is initial mainstream pop into tropical. He was so impressive in salsa, that he caught the ear of Miami. Now signed to Latin Pulse, the label owned by industry veterans George and Al Zamora along with Alex Rodriguez and Javier Huerres, his first single, “Por si no te vuelvo a ver,” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical airplay charts. Sanchez’s debut album is due this year, featuring collabs with well-known tropical songwriters like Jose Luis Piloto, José Luis Pagán and Jorge Villamizar.
One of Spain’s strongest indie artists, Juanito Makandé is transcending borders with easy-going but edgy flamenco rock-pop with jazz and funk fusions. In typical style, Makandé (real name Juan Medina) supported the making of his late 2015 release, Muerte a las Pajaros Negros, with a crowdfunding campaign that took in over twice its goal, and offered marijuana seeds from Makandé’s own crop as one of the premiums. Comparisons to Manu Chao may be inevitable, but Makandé, who is from Andalusia, follows the path of other free-spirited talents who have taken the storied soul of flamenco to contemporary music; he’s likely to attract fans of Jarabe de Palo and Alejandro Sanz as much as lovers of pure flamenco or Latin alternative rock. The self-described “flamenco underground” artist has garnered millions of Youtube views after attracting committed followers with constant touring. On his 2016 tour, kicking off Jan. 28 in Bilbao, Juanito Makandé, who recently signed a publishing deal with BMG, will perform all over the country, and hit Paris, London, Dublin and Havana on dates so far announced. More shows in Latin America and the United States look inevitable.
Formed by Simon “Toto” Ruiz and Beethzart “Bet” Acosta, Caibo is a Venezuelan duo dedicated to Afro-Venezuelan music, cultivating a new sound through a mixture of Venezuelan pop rhythms like calypso. Through its creations they have renewed the Venezuelan musical tradition vying for more global appeal. The name “Caibo” refers to Maracaibo, the city where the members are from and where the project was born back in 2005. Recently, Caibo was sponsored by Nacho (from Chino & Nacho) in the U.S. where they promoted the single “Te Llevo en Mi Corazón.”
EDM isn’t the realm of many women in Latin America. Colombian producer, DJ and composer Ali Stone is only starting to make waves with her first, self-released EP, Obsessed, But she’s managed to craft interesting partnerships along the way. Most recently, she was tapped by global retailer Forever 21 to produce the store’s soundtrack, “Forever.” Stone, a multi instrumentalist who speaks English, Spanish and French, was also featured on the public art project “Empowering Women” in Mexico.