Carlos Vives, Cumbiana II (Sony Music Latin)
Carlos Vives’ sonic point of departure is seemingly narrow: The Colombian Sierra Nevada and the delta of the Magadalena River. But its reach and scope are limitless, judging by Cumbiana II, his new album of fusions between Vives’ trademark cumbia and vallenato roots and a vast array of other global sounds, joined together with a seamless ear for commercial appeal. Cumbiana II, part 2 of the original Cumbiana released last year, launches with a fresh, island-evoking single featuring Black Eyed Peas and Play ‘N Skillz. But the album also brings in rock through Fito Páez (“Babel”), pop with Camilo and Ricky Martin, and merengue with Milly Quezada and Jandy Ventura in a homage to the late Johnny Ventura (“Buscando al Caballo”). That the songs sound so seamless and easy to hear is a testament to the care Vives places in remaining authentic to all the origins. Listen carefully. — LEILA COBO
Chiquis, Abeja Reina (Fonovisa/UMG Records)
Chiquis’ new album isn’t for the faint of heart. In Abeja Reina (Queen Bee), the Mexican-American artist is as blunt as ever on topics of love, heartbreak and female empowerment, with lyrics that (warning) can and will sting. She opens her ultra-personal 18-track set — which includes five interludes — with a bilingual attitude-heavy intro. “There were many that didn’t believe and maybe they’ll never believe. But the difference is that today, I don’t give a f—. And today, I believe in myself. Welcome to the Abeja Reina experience.” That experience she refers to is a roller coaster of emotions as the regional singer narrates her own journey that’s filled with ups and downs. Chiquis is vulnerable yet gutsy. She’s heartbroken but optimistic.
A mostly banda album, her core sound, Chiquis also steps outside her comfort zone experimenting with cumbia, R&B and rap, which showcases her versatility. Tip: You’ll want to hear the album from beginning to end and not miss a special tribute to her mother, the late chart-topping artist Jenni Rivera. About her new album, which follows her Latin Grammy-winning Playlist, Chiquis said: “It’s been a two-year labor of love and the result is a dream come true. The path has not been easy, but thanks to lots of determination, effort and tenacity we created this album made with love just for you.” — GRISELDA FLORES
Trueno, Bien o Mal (Sur Capital Records)
For his sophomore album Bien o Mal, Trueno (real name: Mateo Palacios) dropped a conceptual album where he passionately narrates his hardships and successes in 15 tracks. Divided into two parts, the good and the evil, disc one includes six songs that not only showcase his hardcore rap sound and raw penmanship but also exposes how he sees the social and cultural reality of Latin America today (examples: “Fuck the Police,” “Buenos Aires en Llamas”). In “Tierra Zanta,” the album’s focus track, Trueno reels in Argentine folk stars Victor Heredia and La Charo for a tango-infused letter about protest, love, and patriotism.
Following his “Manifesto Freestyle,”—which easily demonstrates why he was crowned the youngest champion in the history of the Red Bull Batalla de Los Gallos Argentina competition in 2019—the album then transitions from “protest to celebration” for the remaining eight tracks.
On disc two, the Argentine rapper incorporates ’90s Hip-Hop beats (“Dance Crip”), soulful R&B (“Feel Me?”), and perreo fusions as heard in his Randy and Bizarrap-assisted “Jungle.” Other collaborations on Bien o Mal include Nathy Peluso, Duki, and Pedro Peligro. “Right or wrong through our medium, we are fighting for ourselves,” Trueno expressed of his album in a statement. “Sacrificing what we have and what we don’t, in search of Peace. There are no differences, in the struggle we are all one.” Stream and listen to the album above. — JESSICA ROIZ
Abraham Mateo, Ana Mena, “Quiero Decirte” (Sony Music España)
Abraham Mateo joins forces with Ana Mena for his latest single, “Quiero Decirte,” an infectious pop track influenced by funk ’80s vibes. The lyrics wrap around a love story that seems as if it hasn’t ended, where they sing about how long they miss each other, and he hasn’t given up on her yet. “I want to tell you that I’m sorry, that I miss you/ That of everything that has happened, baby, I regret it/ I still love you don’t think that I have already given you up for lost,” he sings in the chorus. Watch the, also ’80s inspired, music video above: — INGRID FAJARDO
Giovanny Ayala & Luis R. Conriquez, “Quién Se Apunta?” (Gerencia 360 Music)
After writing songs for multiple artists — such as Julion Alvarez, Regulo Caro and Los Plebes del Rancho — Giovanni Ayala consolidates himself as a singer. This time, he teams up with regional Mexican chart-topping artist Luis R. Conriquez for “Quien Se Apunta,” a drown-your-sorrows-in-alcohol type of song that should be on your playlist if you’re going through a messy breakup. Penned by Ayala, the mainly banda song, powered by sierreño guitars, follows Ayala’s latest single “Ni Que Fuera Gripa.” Meanwhile, Conriquez recently joined Grupo Firme for “Si Respetan, Respeto.” — G.F.
Andy Rivera, Dual (Sony Music Colombia)
Colombian artist Andy Rivera drops his new EP DUAL, his first under his Sony Music Colombia signing. Flaunting his two facets as an artist, fans will discover his ability to navigate from reggaeton-pop beats to bachata, and such. DUAL represents the two worlds that best describe Rivera: “El Amante” (“The Lover”) and “Héroe” (“Hero”). El Amante is his passionate, creative, and seductive side, charged with sultry rhythms and “Héroe” shows his humble personality full of dreams and aspirations. The only collaboration on the six-track EP is with Ñejo and Ryan Castro on the “Monumento” remix. Stream and listen to DUAL above. — I.F.
Nath, “Sin Maquillaje” (La Industria Inc.)
New La Industria signing Nath, a female singer/rapper from Medellín, has previously tested more gangsta waters in tracks like “Mini.” But she is so much better, more heartfelt and more convincing in her new “Sin Maquillaje,” a fresh take on love and female friendship that vacillates between peppy and poignant. The video, shot reportage-style with a handheld camera, hones in on real life and comradeship that meshes with the sweet lyrics, and connects far more than trite braggadocio. — L.C.