The expression “Latin music” has been gaining more prominence on the world scene, especially due to the fact that artists who sing in Spanish are increasingly appearing in more events and places where only English was heard before.
With a greater or lesser presence of traditional rhythms from different parts of Latin America, the last generations have been conquering the commercial and popular space with increasing force.
Let’s see the origin of this phenomenon and some of the protagonists, as well as the different styles and characteristics.
Latin emigration and songs
As is well known, the slave system led many Africans to populate the American continent and, in the United States, years later, this led to the irruption of black music in the commercial music of the country and also in the rest of the world.
In the same way, the constant emigration from Spanish-speaking America has caused, a few generations later, the appearance and acceptance of South American rhythms, more or less transfigured, in the mass media and in its international influence.
What for generations, was a neighborhood music in many American cities that immigrants had brought with them on their journey, was gradually gaining ground in the so-called mainstream , or main current and center of the music industry.
What do we understand, then, by Latin music?
Latin music is the label given to the set of Latin American rhythms that have triumphed in some way among the general public and, above all, in the North American music industry and, let’s say, international taste in recent years.
Bachata, vallenato, cumbia and a long etcetera of styles from different countries sounded for decades in Latino communities and, occasionally, had international repercussions to some extent.
If during the 20th century artists such as Antonio Machin, Celia Cruz or Buena Vista Social Club, among others, had their moments of glory, the scope of their commercial success was limited, in part, by the physical business model at the time, as well as due to the limitations of diffusion and publicity on a global scale.
Carlos Vives, Shakira and Juanes were some of the Latin American artists who crossed their borders around the turn of the century and, in some way, paved the way for the new music and musicians who, in the 21st century, have already broken into the charts, radios and streaming all over the planet.
Reggaeton, perhaps as a spearhead, with its multiple nuances, definitely opened a commercial gap in the United States, which, being the main producer and exporter of music in the world, opened the doors to succeed in practically all parts.
The rhythm, the attitude and the protest
Although the origin or root of current Latin music is found in the folkloric traditions of the southern regions, in many cases a rural origin, what we know as Latin music in its form and worldwide projection is considered urban music, since it It has developed in neighborhoods of cities, to a large extent.
The Puerto Rican connection, especially with its status as an unincorporated territory but associated with the United States, was a protagonist with Daddy Yankee, for example, in the commercial penetration of Latin music.
Following the evolution of what is sometimes called Caribbean Hip hop, adding a characteristic flow derived from the use of the Spanish language and walking to the beat of the famous dembow , a solid base was formed for reggaeton artists and other elements to find the right point of originality, exoticism and accessibility for the general public.
For the North American public, the rhythmic element, the novelty itself, the dance potential and the uninhibited attitude were tempting and, with Miami and its producers and mixers as an input channel, adjusting the sound of these new proposals to the majority taste, It resulted in a practically unavoidable seduction.
For the artists, for their part, the vindication of their origins and their rights as first-class citizens, often with considerable political weight in their themes, gave strength and credibility to their figures as representatives of millions of real people of those times. corners of the world.
And we cannot forget the aesthetic and visual component, which went hand in hand with the music and equally integrated Hip hop, simply Pop and the colorful and peculiar Latin styles.
International Latin Artists
As we have said, since ancient times, the Latin imprint has been present in the popular genres born in North America.
Jazz, Rock, Pop and other musical genres had Spanish-speaking representatives and received musical influences with distinctive contributions.
Throughout the 20th century, La Bamba, Santana, Los del Rio and a few other songs and artists had successes in the North American market, but they did not go beyond, in a way, to be isolated exceptions.
At the end of the century, with Gloria Stefan, Ricky Martin or Shakira, among others, the Latin presence in the media increased and the consumption of this type of music by English-speaking audiences and from all over the world until, already in the 20th century, With the song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and the consolidation of the so-called urban music, Latin music, in its enormous variety, began to become ubiquitous.
Calle 13 and Residente, later, J Balvin, Bad Bunny or Rosalia herself, among many others, have been adding successes and authority both to their own musical proposals and their commercial impact of each one as well as to the ensemble we know as Latin music.
Especially the genres that have adopted elements of Hip hop or characteristics of contemporary Pop, have been having more and more presence and importance in the commercial network of music and their popularity has spread throughout the world.
With contemporary sounds, Trap influences, on the one hand, or black music in its many forms, Latin styles have infiltrated almost every relevant plane of current music. With avant-garde or hard touches, sometimes, and with local music resources or traditional emotion, the Latino continues unstoppable and vital in its passage through the top of the music business.
Whether we like it more or less, the fact is that so much modern music in Spanish has never been heard throughout the world.