Reflect on the recent and revolutionary emergence of Latin music into mainstream pop, and you'll likely immediately give nod to Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ("Despacito") or J Balvin ("Mi Gente"), but there are Latinas making waves in the industry right now, too. They come from all different walks of life and their music reflects that diversity. From rap to R&B to Latin pop, whether expressed in English or Spanish, these Latina artists prove that when it comes to musical genres, they're as eclectic in their style as they are in their delivery. If you thought all Latinas were the same, these eight ladies will make you check that outdated notion.
Cardi B (obviously)
I mean, it goes without saying that Cardi B’s got everyone hooked—even Denzel Washington can get down with her "Yves Saint Laurent." Her recently-released, No.1 album Invasion of Privacy has already broken Apple Music's record, previously held by Taylor Swift's Reputation, as the most streamed album by a female artist in its first week. The Bronx, N.Y. native of Trinidadian and Dominican descent is a breath of fresh air in an industry where people’s answers and personalities feel manufactured and stale. Seeing her win on her own terms is a reminder for all of us to always just do you, boo.
One listen to Jessie Reyez’s soulful, raspy, and instantly recognizable voice and we promise you’ll be a fan. Not many artists can get away with stripped-down ballads on which nothing distracts from or interrupts their voice, but it’s in that zone that Reyez shines. The Canadian-Colombian singer’s single “Figures” made it to Billboard’s Top 40 Rhythmic Songs and recently received the remix treatment from Daniel Caesar. She describes her music as “violent soul music… It’s romantic, it’s bloody, it’s heaven, it’s hell.” Expect to hear more from her later this year when her much-anticipated debut LP drops.
After years of having record labels try to pigeonhole her, something special happened when Nitty Scott was able to unapologetically be herself on her 2017 album Creature! People quickly gravitated to her candor. The rapper initially thought the specificity of the project—which focused on the “intersectionality of her existence” as a spiritual, bisexual, feminist, Afro-Latina—would alienate people, but its authenticity is what attracted her audience. She’s taken her vulnerability to the next level, recently opening up about a traumatic mental breakdown she experienced and, judging by the responses from her fans, it’s clear that her honesty is exactly what so many have needed.
At this point, Princess Nokia isn’t new to the scene. She’s been experimenting with different sounds since she first released “Bitch, I’m Posh” under the moniker Wavy Spice in 2012. But her 1992 Deluxe debut album is what confirmed her starpower and led to the multi-talent selling out shows and landing her own radio show, The Voices in My Head, on Beats 1. What we love about this Afro-Boricua is she shows no desire in being boxed in: she’s a self-proclaimed tomboy who oozes sex appeal, a rapper with a strong love for punk rock and emo music (proven by her most recent “alternative music” mixtape, A Girl Cried Red), and a bold New York City kid at heart with the traditions of her ancestors running through her veins. Princess Nokia is going to continue to keep us on our toes and that’s just how we like it.
Amara La Negra
When Amara La Negra called out producer Young Hollywood on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami in a now-viral clip for his beliefs of colorism and obvious ignorance to the fact that Latinas can also be black, many of us did a collective slow-clap. Since then, the Dominican singer has been collecting checks—she signed a multi-album deal with Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide and BMG earlier this year—and embracing her role as the poster child for speaking out against colorism in the Latino community.
In 2012, after releasing her mixtape Drunken Babble, Kali Uchis' velvety voice and retro vibe got the attention of powerhouses like Snoop Dogg. Now, six years later, after lending her vocals to both standout tracks from Daniel Caesar ("Get You") and Tyler, the Creator ("See You Again"), the Colombian songstress is still making us swoon with her just-released, major label debut LP Isolation. And as if the sultry tunes aren't enough, her videos' styling and aesthetic are ev-e-ry-thang.
When she first jumped on the scene, Leslie Grace caught our attention by adding a bachata flair to The Shirelle's 1960 hit, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." These days, the Dominican singer is experimenting more with Latin pop and reggaeton, but her latest collaboration may be her most unique one to date as she just released a song with K-pop sensation Super Junior, called "Lo Siento." The track blends English, Spanish, and Korean for something fans of all backgrounds can enjoy.
Sabrina Claudio's rise to the top has, rightfully, hit a roadblock. The singer was recently identified as the owner of an old Twitter account on which she tweeted racist comments directed at women of color. Now, considering Claudio—with her seductive, 90s R&B-inspired tunes—is profiting off a genre created by black people and her influences (and recent collaborators) are all talented black musicians (hey, Khalid), fans are understandably not quick in forgiving her past transgressions. The 21-year-old, half-Cuban/half-Puerto Rican artist has since released two apologies, but if she really wants to try and win back the trust and respect of her fans, she's going to have to use her platform and privileges as a light-skinned Latina to advocate, uplift, and create space for Black women. But if you're more of the merciful type, and still looking for mood-setting, baby-making music, her debut album About Time once helped her nab the title of the No.1 R&B artist on iTunes.