First Stream Latin is a compilation of the best new Latin songs, albums and videos recommended by the Billboard Latin editors.
Karol G, KG0516 (Universal Music Latina)
It says a lot about Karol G that, as a woman in reggaetón she has the clout — and the skills — to gather the top men, and women, in the genre around her new album. Despite the presence of Wisin, Yandel, Ozuna, Anuel, J Balvin, Ivy Queen and Mariah Angeliq, plus outside-the-box guest spots from Camilo and Nathy Peluso, Karol G’s KG0516 is very much a Karol G set, with enough solo tracks to firmly establish her as today’s leading lady of Latin urban music.
Having said that, this is an album of strong, melody-first songs where Karol G has gone to lengths to highlight her versatility as an artist who doesn’t just chant but also sings. Her vocals, in fact, are the basis of her music since her early days, but this is the first time she fully exploits them. Tracks like “Gato Malo,” alongside Peluso, read like a tango-tinged torch song with a generous dollop of attitude (this is a great pairing), while the more melancholy “El Barco” and “200 Copas” dwell on Karol G’s favored topic of love and loss.
“Each song represents a different emotion,” she tells Billboard. “’El Barco’ is based on a story that most women have experienced at some point, and that’s why they can identify with the lyrics [”You turned your back, but the boat left; and your photos I threw away; since I did, everything that was black and white now has color…”]. Another favorite, “200 Copas,” recorded to simulate a live bar and performed for a girlfriend who needs to dump her cheating man, “Came to my head one morning. I recorded it immediately. It was so clear from the onset, I didn’t want to change a thing.”
On the other end of the spectrum is focus single “El Makinón,” a power chick vamp with newcomer Mariah Angeliq. “I want you to listen to that when you feel empowered!” says Karol G. The real power here, though, is Karol G’s capacity to bring in the veterans (in “Leyendas”) and the newcomers (Juanka and Brray, Yandar and Yostin) and still emerge as the one leading the charge. — LEILA COBO
Nicki Nicole & Lunay, “No Toque Mi Naik” (DALE Play/Sony Music Latin)
On the 2021 Premio Lo Nuestro red carpet, Nicki Nicole exclusively revealed to Billboard that she was going to begin collaborating with “lots of Puerto Rican artists.” Following Rochy RD and Myke Towers’ “Ella No Es Tuya (Remix),” she teamed up with Lunay on “No Toque Mi Naik.” Co-produced by Los Honeyboos, Mauro DeTommaso and Facu Yalve, the track perfectly meshes both artist’s flows over a sick beat that fuses trap, reggaeton and bugalú undertones. The music video, directed by Juanky Alvarez and filmed in Puerto Rico, shows both artists enjoying the island on Motocross motorcycles. The Argentine and Puerto Rican artists met in Miami, according to Lunay, and their chemistry “flowed naturally.” — JESSICA ROIZ
Lyanno & Rauw Alejandro, “Poderosa” (Rimas Entertainment)
Lyanno and Rauw Alejandro have joined forces once again to bring to life “Poderosa,” a catchy Afrobeat and reggaeton track that will make you dance to the floor. Produced by the Grammy-winning duo Súbelo Neo, the track highlights a woman who’s “powerful” on the inside and the outside. The futuristic-inspired music video, directed by Gus in Miami, is a real standout, showing both artists joined by a group of dancers in a desert festival. In a statement, Lyanno expressed his admiration for Rauw because “he brings a different energy,” and that can easily be reflected in “Poderosa.” — J.R.
Pipe Bueno x Maluma, “Tequila” (Good Music/Sony Music Latin)
Pipe Bueno and Maluma have the ultimate bromance and it comes out to play on their new collaboration “Tequila.” The Colombian pair, who are best friends in real life, first joined forces on 2014’s “La Invitación.” Now, they’ve done it again, fusing the best of both worlds in the urban-tinged ranchera “Tequila.” “Are you ready to feel the voltage of the two of us together again?” Bueno asked fans on Instagram. Literal compadres — Maluma is the godfather of Pipe’s son — the two artists sing about a girl who broke their heart and wants to come back but it’s too late. –– J.R.
Niña Dioz, Amor, Locura & Otros Vicios (Nacional Records)
Three years after 2018’s Reyna, Niña Dioz (real name: Carla Reyna) returns with yet another album full of raw and empowering anthems. Coined Amor, Locura & Otros Vicios, the set is home to 12 tracks that best represent who Dioz is: authentic, innovative and a voice for human rights, as heard in focus track “Kamikaze.” “Para todas las brujas guerreras, cabronas, ¡luchando contra la marea … oye!” Dioz kicks off the feminist anthem, in collaboration with Guatemalan artist Rebeca Lane. The Mexican rapera shines on her new album, where she flirts with Latin trap (“Primero”), sultry R&B (“Tinder & Bumble (Love)”) and old-school reggaeton (“Ultimo Perreo”), to name a few. Collaborations on Amor, Locura & Otros Vicios include Hispana, Safree, Lane, I.M. Yoni and Moka Mami. — J.R.