Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed tremendous transformation within the Latin music industry. With shifts from the traditional and commercial favourite of reggaeton to the newly dubbed genre of Latin urban music, a range of sub-genres have evolved and are now making waves in the US and Latin American industries.
Latin music is known to encompass a vast range of sound and styles and is defined by four key elements: music style, geography, cultural background of the artist, and language. The new fusion that we’re hearing in 2019 is a mixture of these significant elements, with each represented differently in every song that falls under the broad umbrella of “Latin urban music.”
New fusion subgenres originating from Latin urban music are the products of an evolution between reggaeton and contemporary hip-hop. Initially, the fusion which transpired throughout the early 80s and 90s was unheard of because hip-hop was still young and hadn’t achieved its global presence. In present times, the genre has evolved significantly and has been the base for a plethora of subgenres which are growing globally at an exponential rate. Latin urban music has been feeding off this growth, producing regional genres such as Latin rap, trap, hip-hop, and a newly refined version of reggaeton.
Latin urban music, the hub of Latin fusion genres, has evolved immensely over the past two decades and now encompasses multiple subgenres which have developed significantly over recent years. It has, without a doubt, become one of the most exciting genres in the industry. Latin hip-hop was the product of a mixture of cultures which were exposed to urban rap sounds that helped young artists develop their own styles. Their unique beats spread like wildfire throughout the US and made their way to Mexico and South America. Soon after, Latin hip-hop became an influential music force around the globe. Latin urban music is the new way of defining artists such as Calle 13, Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Chino y Nacho, and Don Omar. Latin urban music is still widely defined by reggaeton, hip-hop, rap, trap, and a crossover of one or two of these genres.
Reggaeton is a crucial form of expression for urban Latino identity and pride. Its extensive audiences in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the US Spanish speaking states have helped the genre grow exponentially. Reggaeton became popular across the globe after it had been transformed into a more unique rhythmic beat that got audiences of all ages swaying from right to left. It was developed in Puerto Rico after influence from dancehall and reggae fused with heavy emphasis on energetic drumming patterns and deep basslines. DJs, who found the genre, incorporated hip-hop lyrics over its rhythmic beat to help it garner increasing popularity in the ’90s.
Due to Reggaeton’s cultural associations, it soon made its way to New York and other US cities with substantial Latino populations. Artists such as Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, and Tego Calderon started their career with reggaeton but have now altered their styles to incorporate elements of hip-hop and trap, which has led their categorization under the modern term of Latin urban music. Contemporary reggaeton has become an increasingly commercialized genre thanks to its newly refined beats and current popularity. For example, J Balvin’s song, Mi Gente is one of the most viewed music videos on YouTube with a total of 2.5 billion views.
Latin urban music and reggaeton have journeyed together for the past two decades and have collectively produced enhanced and transformed versions of themselves, in addition to a genre that is a byproduct of the two: Latin trap, an adaptation that has resulted from recent developments in American rap and hip-hop. Reggaeton and trap were growing simultaneously, but reggaeton became heavily commercialized while trap stuck to its original roots founded in the American rap and trap culture. Latin trap possesses the familiar sound of American trap, originally of Southern hip-hop descent that has developed and grown in popularity in the past decade.
We can expect to see tremendous growth as Latin trap draws in the public with its fresh new sound, highly dynamic beats, and cross-cultural appeal.
This fusion of trap and Latin music is continuously growing and making a name for itself in the industry. The genre has the room for growth, as it is deeply rooted in the origin of reggaeton and its popularity is rising in synchronization with the commercial reggaeton that’s now dominating charts across the world. Latin trap artist Bad Bunny has appeared over three times on the Top 25 of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs Chart: his song, “Soy Peor”, currently boasts over 630 million views and continues to grow as more people familiarize themselves with the genre.
Artists such as Chris Jeday and Karol G have been pushing the genre’s performative potential through shows at festivals and concerts like SXSW. Ismar SantaCruz, Vice President and Managing Director of Radio Strategy at Univision, started a broadcasting hour dedicated to Latin trap and expects the genre’s popularity to quadruple in size over the next few years. With this kind of exposure, we can expect to see tremendous growth as Latin trap draws in the public with its fresh new sound, highly dynamic beats, and cross-cultural appeal.
Latin trap is becoming incredibly successful in both the North American and Latin American markets thanks to its significant association with reggaeton. The genre’s fanbase continues to expand and its powerful sound is swiftly capturing the attention of music fans everywhere: there’s no doubt that it will soon harness a worldwide audience, leading to the fusion of more popular genres and creating a globally integrated music market in which once-regional styles continue to cross-pollinate and break down borders around the world.
The genre’s fanbase continues to expand and its powerful sound is swiftly capturing the attention of music fans everywhere: there’s no doubt that it will soon harness a worldwide audience.