In an era of streaming, home studios and of course, pandemic lockdown, a growing number of emerging artists around the world have been creating new music. Their productions encompass reggaetón, of course, but also traverse a multitude of genres — from romantic ballads to tropical music to a fantastic mix of sounds and rhythms.
These acts are either self-releasing or releasing independently, exploring new sounds and new paths to finding their audience. At Billboard, we receive literally hundreds of new tracks by new artists every month; so many that we are unable to reply to or acknowledge all of them. But we have been listening.
Today, we launch our new Emerging Artists to Watch list, which will highlight new acts — most who have never charted or do not have major label or distribution deals. The list is based solely on editorial consideration, and reflects the tastes of our very diverse Latin staff.
We will publish a new list of emerging acts at the end of the year. In the meantime, enjoy!
Bad Milk was born in the heart of the quarantine lockdown in 2020, opening her YouTube channel on March 15 and publishing her single “Maybe” in July. She was quick to get on our radar with her soulful and dulcet vocals, as heard in “Ego,” her first single of 2021. Born Manuelita Garcia, Bad Milk is a developing artist from Medellin, Colombia who can sing in both English and Spanish. She was discovered by Latin hitmaker Ovy on the Drums, who produced “Ego” and later invited her on his track “Angelito,” featuring fellow Colombian newcomer Beéle.
Blessd (real name: Stiven Mesa Londoño) derives from the new wave of urban artists in Colombia. He freestyles, he sings, and he pens his own music, becoming a whole viral sensation on social media since kicking off his career in 2019. Made in Medellin, the 21-year-old rapper has already collaborated with Maluma, The Black Eyed Peas, and worked with renowned hitmakers including The Rude Boyz, Icon Music, and Ovy on the Drums. If tracks such as “Imposible” and “Hace Tiempo”’ are any indication, Blessd brings a refreshing music proposal.
Before releasing her first-ever single on July 15, a bubblegum pop song titled “Shot de Tequila,” Brianda started singing at the young age of six when her parents were taking her to competitions in her native Mazatlán, and later joined teen group Fusión performing at local events. Now, the 25-year-old daughter of Sergio Lizárraga (Banda MS manager and CEO of indie label Lizos Music) is officially introducing herself to the world with “Tequila” released under Lizárraga’s newly launched label, Room 28.
Fidel David López Parejo brings a fresh take to Colombian “tropi-pop,” calling it “costeño vibes.” The 27-year-old from Valledupar, in Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has been releasing mid-tempo, danceable tracks via his YouTube channel, CaviMusica, posting highly-produced videos for romantic tracks that blend pop and vallenato. Cavi, who cites Carlos Vives and Juan Luis Guerra as influences, is endearing both visually and melodically. His latest single is “La Manera,” released July 9.
Ingrid Contreras, 25, calls herself an “old soul” — one with exquisite taste in music, ranging from Rocio Durcal to Franco de Vita to Marco Antonio Solis, and beyond. Signed to record label Show Business, the upcoming Regional Mexican artist stepped onto the spotlight in 2019 and since has used her natural powerhouse vocals to sing mariachi-pop ballads. Contreras, who’s also all the rage on TikTok, is currently making the rounds with her heartfelt “Me Voy Amandote,” penned by award-winning composer and artist Joss Favela.
A Venezuelan gem, singer-songwriter Jerry Di (real name: Yesfran Omeba Soto López) went viral thanks to his EDM-infused reggaetón hit “Mi Cuarto,” which peaked at No. 14 on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart (dated Nov. 14, 2020) and generated over 1 million video creations on Tik Tok. A former member of boy band Calle Ciega, known for his crisp, high-pitched vocals, Jerry Di’s sonority is influenced by R&B, reggaetón and Afrobeat. Most recently, he released “Adicto A Tus Sábanas,” a reggaetón-pop ballad that finds the Venezuelan singer-songwriter confessing that he is head over heels for his muse.
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Kablito has so far released two EPs, Telenovela (2018) and Sentimental (2020), which dig deep into the multiple layers of love via raw and introspective lyrics that are paired with a variety of rhythms such as indie/pop, reggaetón and dancehall. The promising eclectic artist from Guayaquil, Ecuador has already scored collaborations with major producers such as Tainy, DVLP, Samuel Kareem and LUYO.
Natan & Shander
Singer-songwriters Natan and Shander, born in Cartagena, Colombia and real-life brothers, were recently joined by the biggest names in Latin music — J Balvin, Nicky Jam, and Karol G — for their hit song “Poblado Remix,” currently going global with more than 71 million streams on YouTube. On their latest single “Ojos Café,” their raspy voice pairs perfectly with reggaetón-thumping beats, Caribbean influences and acoustic guitars. Maintaining the essence from their culture and flavor of Colombia through their music.
Ecuadorian singer-songwriter Nicky Stefan has been active for quite some time. In fact, she started singing at four years old and has recorded mainly covers throughout the years. But it isn’t until now that her career is taking off thanks to original reggaetón-pop bilingual tracks such as “Que Te Vaya Bien” and “Ni Sumisa Ni Devota,” released between 2019-2020, which have put her on the map as her most-viewed videos on YouTube.
Paula Cendejas, one of Spain’s most promising pop acts, created her ultra-personal and rebellious EP Contragolpe after discovering herself in the midst of the global pandemic. “All the bad things that I had inside I brought out in the form of a song,” she expressed in a statement. Her musical style includes sultry R&B’s, flamenco fusions, futuristic boleros, pop-reggaeton, and more. The Madrid-based newcomer, who gained attention through her covers on social media, has collaborated with C.Tangana, Piso 21, Feid and Jesse Baéz, to name a few.
A third-generation actress with Mexican and Norwegian roots, Tessa Ia is a singer-composer with a big passion for the arts in all their splendor. Her indie-pop mixes her sweet voice with electronic elements and electric guitars that will bring you to her world of freedom and positivity. Her new EP Naïf marks the beginning of her career as an independent artist. The three songs on the EP, “Yo No Canto,” “Superestrella De La Botella,” and “Tessa Terremoto,” all penned by Tessa are a mix of metaphors and poetry, which stay true to Tessa’s distinctive songwriting.
Dominican rapper and dembow gamechanger Tokischa is taking the Latin world by storm through her rocker aesthetic, boldly sex-positive lyricism and undeniably distinctive sound. Her spring single alongside Haraca Kiko and El Cherry Scom, “Tukuntaso,” amassed over 13 million views on YouTube, coming as no surprise considering the track’s infectious melodies and movement-commanding production. With her debut album on the way, the unorthodox trapera is sure to continue making noise and attracting attention through her bold attitude and bolder music.