A Survey Of The Year In 'Latin Music,' Whatever That Means

Dec 11, 2019
Originally published on December 11, 2019 4:54 am

There is a very good reason the Latin Grammys were established 20 years ago, and as Stefanie Fernández and I looked back at this year in music, we were reminded of it: The width and breadth of expression within Latin music stretches that single designation beyond its seams.

This happens every week as we share our weekly Alt.Latino playlist with you — but when looking back at an entire year of releases, that diversity overwhelms.

So in our list of the best Latin music of 2019, we did our best to reflect a variety of genres and styles.

We celebrate a musical world that includes two all-Latina groups who make radically different music: Flor de Toloache (passionate mariachi) and Fea (unbridled punk).

Salsa icon Rubén Blades picked up an electric guitar this year with the young rockeros Making Movies and made some of the most vibrant music of his five-decade career. And the Guatemalan blues diva Gaby Moreno collaborated with a genuine rock and roll legend for an lushly orchestrated trip through the Latin American songbook.

Two musicians who explore the folkloric sides of their own backgrounds made astounding albums this year that reverberated way beyond their respective Cuban (Daymé Arocena) and Puerto Rican (iLe) roots.

While the biggest names in Latin urban music dominates the larger Latin music landscape, indie artists like Snow Tha Product, KAINA, Tomasa Del Real and Melii show what happens with the same source material free of external commercial constraints.

And there are a handful of musicians who explore sounds that don't all easily into any genre — and all of them at the same time — who released great music this year, including Y La Bamba, Helado Negro and Nicola Cruz.

I could go on, but you get the picture. There is something for everyone in what we call "Latin music" these days, and from where Stefanie and I sit, we should all dip our toes into all of it. It will remind us of just how diverse our communities are, and yet, what we all have in common. —Felix Contreras


Top Stop Music / YouTube

Aymée Nuviola

A Journey Through Cuban Music


Universal Music Latin Entertainment / YouTube

Bad Bunny & J Balvin

OASIS


La Commission / YouTube

Bryant Myers & Miky Woodz feat. Myke Towers

"Esa No Era"


Sony Masterworks / YouTube

Camila Meza

"Cucurrucucú Paloma"


Self-Released / YouTube

Cimafunk

"El Potaje"


Interscope / YouTube

Cuco

Para Mi


In The Red / YouTube

Davila 666

"Huesos Viejos"


Brownswood / YouTube

Daymé Arocena

Sonocardiogram


Sweat Records / YouTube

Dracula

Dorys & Eli


Blackheart / YouTube

Fea

No Novelties


Self-Released / YouTube

Flor de Toloache

Indestructible


Nonesuch / YouTube

Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks

¡Spangled!


RVNG Intl. / YouTube

Helado Negro

This Is How You Smile


Sony Music Latin / YouTube

iLe

Almadura


Sooper / YouTube

KAINA

Next to the Sun


La Doña / YouTube

La Doña feat. Cotó

"Memorias Caramelas"


Interscope / YouTube

Melii

MOTIONS


ZZK / YouTube

Nicola Cruz

Siku


Residente / YouTube

Residente feat. iLe & Bad Bunny

"Afilando Los Cuchillos"


One RPM / YouTube

Rubén Blades y Making Movies

"No Te Calles"


Rich Music / YouTube

Sech feat. Darell

"Otro Trago"


Snow Tha Product / YouTube

Snow Tha Product

"Bilingue"


Nacional / YouTube

Tomasa Del Real feat. Eli Fantasy

"Braty Puti"


Tender Loving Empire / YouTube

Y La Bamba

Mujeres

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