The best way to describe Reggaeton is a form of Spanish reggae that often fuses singing and rapping in Spanish. I started to listen to reggaeton a couple of years ago after several of my family visits to Mexico. My family would play it frequently, and I would hear it bouncing off the walls at nearly every club we’d go to. I was reluctant about listening to reggaeton at first, but its catchy beats eventually won me over to the point where I now consider myself a huge fan. Reggaeton has been popular for a long time now–I remember when “Gasolina” got popular when I was just a little kid. Amazingly, it has come back into mainstream popularity in the last few years.
The “Despacito” craze of 2017 surprised me because everyone in Spanish-speaking countries had already been playing the original on repeat. When the Justin Bieber remix came out, I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I was so glad everyone was singing along to Spanish music. With artists like J Balvin and Maluma breaking through to the global charts, I’m happy to see American and English-language audiences experiment with the music of other cultures. It’s been a long time coming, but I think it’s a significant milestone for Spanish-language music.
I am also happy to report that several amazing Reggaeton and Spanish pop albums have been released this year. Whether you like poppier, more mainstream Reggaeton or you’re into a more aggressive sound, there’s something for every newbie. I’ve made a list of new releases that you should check out.
J Balvin: Vibras
J Balvin has been at the top of Reggaeton and Latin charts for a few years now. For this album, the “Mi Gente” hitmaker geared up for a more R&B, global sound. “Vibras” is an album for newbies experimenting with the genre, longtime fans, and everything in between. J Balvin succeeded in reaching all audiences with this album. Standout tracks include “No Es Justo,: a definite club hit and “Ambiente,” a flavorful pop record with reggae fusion.
After the massive success of his single “Felices Los 4,” Maluma released this album, which grew on me immensely after a few listens. It doesn’t hurt that the 24-year old has the face and voice of an angel, but his music is pretty great, too. The album is a reflection of his success and approach to English-speaking audiences, with artists like Jason Derulo and Timbaland joining in on his tracks. F.A.M.E. is fun, light-hearted, and just the type of music to listen to get you hyped before you go out for the night.
With Ozuna, some of his songs can be a hit or miss. He’s known for hits like “Criminal” and “Solita,” but this new album has a great number of songs you can’t miss to gauge the current scene. Ozuna may be considered heavy Reggaeton like his contemporaries Daddy Yankee and Plan B, but he is still pop-friendly. With features from other hitmakers like Wisin and Yandel, Ozuna creates a bumping record for anyone reluctant to listen to Reggaeton. Standout tracks include “Quiero Mas” and the hit “Ibiza.”
J Alvarez: La Fama Que Camina
Alvarez is one of the many Puerto Rican hitmakers that dominates the Reggaeton scene. He’s been making hits for years and is known for songs like “Regalame una Noche” and “La Temperatura.” He’s another contemporary and must-listen for anyone venturing into the genre. Standout tracks include “De la Mia Personal,” which is currently at the top of the charts, and “Haters,” which features the enormously successful Bad Bunny. Although Bad Bunny has not released any albums this year, he’s worth checking up on due to his popularity and rise into the scene.
COVER PHOTO: Essex Student