Every month, Billboard Latin editors feature a small group of new, or relatively unknown, artists whose music we love. Think “diamantes en bruto,” or “diamonds in the rough.” These are newcomers who have yet to impact the mainstream — but whose music excites us, and who we believe our readers should make a point to discover.
Our first 2023 edition of “On the Radar Latin” includes emerging artists who we found either in a Spotify playlist or at a music showcase, for example. See our recommendations below:
Why they should be on your radar: There’s an alluring, whimsical quality about Culiacán, Sinaloa artist BRATTY — whether it’s her breathy dolce vocals coupled with bedroom lo-fi productions or her unapologetic pop punk side. On the lyrical front, the artist displays a knack for kitschy songwriting, singing about birthday parties or trips to Japan with charm. She’s already collaborated with the likes of Cuco, Mon Laferte, and Girl Ultra, and remixed Metronomy’s “Things Will Be Fine.” On her latest surfy song “Continental,” BRATTY pairs up with fellow norteño artists Nsqk and Méne where they conjure up an indie jangle pop dream. “The song talks about the love that grows when a relationship is young, and you like that person enough to ask them to move in with you,” she said about the song in a press release. “In the lyrics, I tell them that I would even prepare breakfast for them.” — ISABELA RAYGOZA
Song for your playlist: “Continental,” also starring Nsqk & Méne
Country: United States (of Colombian and Salvadoran descent)
Why they should be on your radar: A Maryland native, Chris Palace, at 21 years old, has paved his own path in the music industry with passion and strive. From the Northeast to Miami to ultimately landing at a song camp in Puerto Rico, Palace debuted as an artist in 2022 with his single “Que Sería.” After knocking on the correct doors, sliding into DMs, and making his way at industry events, Palace got on Rauw Alejandro’s radar, who that same year, signed him to his label Los Sensei Records. An edgy personality, suave vocals, and progressive tracks spotlight Palace’s promising and versatile project, which as of now, can be heard on the Rauw-assisted “GATAS” (part of Saturno album) and his six-track EP Insomnia. “Insomnia is the first stage of the artist, where he works a lot without being able to sleep fighting for his dreams,” he expressed on Instagram. — JESSICA ROIZ
Song for your playlist: “ADELANTAH”
Country: The Dominican Republic
Why they should be on your radar: “I am a beast of massive destruction,” declares J Noa in Spanish. The outspoken rapper doesn’t hold back. With her heady, rapid-fire flow, she commands attention and we are listening. At just 17 years old, the artist displays an awareness of her environment that is as chilling as it is eye-opening. Hailing from the province of San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic, J Noa narrates the struggle, hustle, and bustle of life in the hood, while slaying some socio-political critiques of the D.R. governmental powers that be. For instance, her Sony Music-debut track “Qué Fue?” is an explosive call-out that lyrically tackles issues of poverty, addictions, and murders in her country, while adding “I only intend to open conscience.” With an impressive arsenal of rap bars and freestyle abilities, it’s no wonder why she proclaimed herself as the daughter of rap. The genre is in promising hands. — I.R.
Song for your playlist: “Qué Fue?”
Los Reales del Rio
Why they should be on your radar: Hailing from Zacatecas, Mexico is this young, six-ensemble group that I randomly discovered through a Spotify playlist over the holiday break. Los Reales del Rio (The most real of the river)—honoring their town’s name, Río Grande—launched in 2021 with a very colorful addition to traditional Norteño music. Specifically, their up-tempo “Tres Seis Cinco (365),”—released independently in the fall of 2022—gained social media virality and has become their best-known track as of now. Its lyrics bring to the forefront the group’s relatable lyricism—a song about loving someone the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year and doing it all over again. The track pushed Los Reales’ on Spotify’s Mexico and Guatemala charts, opening their horizons for a more fruitful 2023. — J.R.
Song for your playlist: “Tres Seis Cinco (365)”
Un León Marinero
Why they should be on your radar: Joining the blossoming wave of Latin folk music—think Silvana Estrada, Ed Maverick, Kevin Kaarl—is Un León Marinero (real name: Leo Meléndez). On the Internet, he keeps a minimal bio: “I like to write songs” (Spotify) and “your humble servant and always a friend” (YouTube) but he’s far from a simplistic singer-songwriter. Hailing from San Luis Potosi, León is a modern-day trovador (troubadour) that sings about giving love and being loved, all backed by his pure and warm-toned melodies and emotive vocals. In 2015, he unleashed his debut single “Nieve de Limón” and in 2022 released his debut album A Orillas del Río Santiago. In between, he’s collaborated with newcomer Kaarl and performed at important venues across Mexico. — J.R.
Song for your playlist: “Estar Solo”