Over the last weekend in April, the “United Nations” of reggaeton came together at the Vibra Urbana festival in Las Vegas. Legends of the genre, superstars, and emerging artists from countries throughout Latin America performed at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1. The festival boasted the best reggaeton line-up of the year, with artists like Don Omar, Ivy Queen, Rauw Alejandro, and Nicky Jam gracing its three stages. Backstage, Latina spoke with artists about the evolution of reggaeton and where they hope to take the genre next.
Among the many reggaeton OGs who performed was Nuyorican icon De La Ghetto. He was a member of the genre’s breakthrough in the 2000s and continues to record hits with the new generation of artists. “[The genre’s] evolved greatly and amazingly,” he told Latina. “Back in the day, let’s say 10 years ago, you wouldn’t see big reggaeton festivals in Vegas. This is the new pop, the new rock, the new hip-hop in the U.S. It’s amazing to still be in the game and loving what I do and seeing how this thing called reggaeton has become such a big market right now.”
De La Ghetto recently became an independent artist after parting ways with Warner Music Latina and he noted that he loves having more control over his music, career, and image. He added, “It’s just the beginning right now. It’s sweet right now.” His advice for a long career to many of the rising stars who performed at the event was: “Enjoy what you do…I’m enjoying what I’m doing and that’s the secret. It’s not all about the money. Just have fun.”
Follow Latina country by country to meet the artists we interviewed at Vibra Urbana.
Reggaeton music is rooted in the island of Puerto Rico. Lyanno is part of the new generation of Boricua artists who are redefining the genre. He’s best known for his sexy bedroom bangers where he aims to please his female listeners. He reflected, “I’ll say that my mom and my grandmother raised me to be the man I am today. For that reason, my passion [in my music] is for women. To know how they think, how they feel, and to represent them in all my songs. They’re the ones who buy my tickets and come to see me and hear my music.”
Lyanno recently released his debut album, Cambio, where he pushed reggaeton into an R&B and house music direction, much like his best friend Rauw Alejandro. “Rauw is my brother from another mother,” he told me with a laugh. On Alejandro’s success, he added, “We dreamed of this together and with everything that’s happening becoming reality, I’m really happy for him.” Lyanno is already working on his second album. On what he hopes to accomplish next, Lyanno said, “I want to keep breaking barriers and reach the peak in my career. I want to keep reaching different countries with my music.”
Puerto Rican singer Chesca held it down for the women at Vibra Urbana. She’s proud to represent them in the genre, as she told Latina, “I think it’s a very exciting time for all emerging female artists. This is a very male-driven industry. Having so many females break through is really exciting not just for me, but for all of us. I feel blessed that I can be one of those emerging artists in the stage of where we are right now.”
Chesca is an all-around pop star. She’s recorded songs with reggaeton, electronic, and even mariachi influences alongside Mexican band Grupo Firme. When it comes to working with all types of music, she added, “I’m not just a fan of reggaeton, but a fan of music and anything that represents me or speaks to me. I feel like that’s the beauty of being an artist. I think it’s an exciting time to evolve.” Speaking to the experience of working on “El Cambio” with Grupo Firme, she noted, “They’re my brothers at this point. With them having a very special moment in their careers right now, they’re still giving support to artists who are still growing. To me, that means a lot.”
Chesca also promised more new music on the way, like “pan caliente.” She wants to inspire more women to chase their dreams, even if that goes beyond music. “I feel like my story and my journey for those who don’t really know has been a story of perseverance, sacrifice, and overcoming,” she noted. “It’s more about a movement of women empowerment. That’s what I represent: be successful in anything you want to do. Females, let’s fucking go!”
Puerto Rican singer Nohemy also hit the stage. She was excited to be included on a line-up with La Potra Ivy Queen. “When I was younger, I looked up to Ivy Queen, and now I see many women coming up,” she said. “I feel super proud not only to be Puerto Rican, but to represent women, and bring in a new shine [to the genre] while being myself.”
Nohemy’s songs have extra oomph to them with influences of funk, R&B, and house music. About branching out in her music, she said, “When I was younger, I used to listen to Chris Brown and Michael Jackson. Now I’m trying to incorporate that into the Latin market to bring in something fresh.” Nohemy’s star continues to rise. In 2020, she starred in the series “Bravas” that was executive produced by Natti Natasha, and she recently collaborated with fellow rising artist ROBI in “Avísame.”
With the backing of Pitbull, Omar Courtz is another emerging Puerto Rican voice who performed at Vibra Urbana. Like Bad Bunny, he’s continuing to give reggaeton an emo edge. He said, “I think in Puerto Rico, there’s a super big movement happening right now, especially in the metropolitan area. There’s artists like YovngChimi and Young Miko, who are breaking through in Puerto Rico and creating a new wave, and we’re a part of that.”
There are elements of R&B, dance, and trap music in his alluring songs like “En Tu Cuerpo,” “Eso Es Un Vibe,” and “Aunque Duermas Con El.” Courtz described his music as “dark” and added, “I think we’re in a time we’re it’s easier for people to do different styles of music.”
Reggaeton music also has roots in Panama, by way of reggae en español. Superstar Sech hit the stage, as did rising artist Boza. Both singers have worked with Panamanian producer Dímelo Flow, who is behind all of Sech’s biggest hits. “For me, Sech is the most talented artist in the world and I feel proud to work with him because he’s like my brother,” he said.
Like Lyanno, Dímelo Flow is also releasing music under his own name. He recently linked up the likes of Fatman Scoop and Mr. Vegas for the explosive “Suelta” alongside Rauw Alejandro and María Becerra. The collaboration, he told Latina, “was an unforgettable experience. I think we achieved a different sound in music.” Dímelo Flow’s debut album “Always Dream” will be released on June 9. On what he wants to accomplish, he said simply, “That my music touches the hearts of people.”
The Dominican Republic
Dembow music is another genre emerging from the Caribbeanby way of the Dominican Republic. The genre was represented at the festival by Tokischa and Kiko El Crazy, who was distinctive for his multicolored hair. “I’m very proud that music and our genre is growing as it is and that we’re making an impact on the world,” he said.
On his recent album “Llegó El Domi,” Kiko El Crazy embraced dembow music throughout the album like in bangers “Busca” with fellow Dominican act El Alfa. He is also pushing the genre to new places in tracks like “Latina” with Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. As for his goals for his music, Kiko added, “I want to keep moving people, so they can relate to Kiko El Crazy. I’m a person who lives life my way. I know a lot of people feel like that mentality. I’m representing that person who wants to be free like I am and live life fully.”
The reggaeton scene in Colombia has grown exponentially in the past decade with the successes of J Balvin, Karol G, and Maluma. Feid, who has written for and collaborated with all of them, carries that Colombian torch forward in the genre. The night before singing at Vibra Urbana, Feid performed at Maluma’s Medallo En El Map concert in Medellín that also included guests like Madonna and Grupo Firme.
“It was amazing!” Feid recalled. “It was like a dream. When I went on the stage, everyone was screaming. Maluma and I have had a cabrón friendship for many years. It makes me really happy to add something to his show, like to put some sauce on his show.”
In his recent hits like “Nieve,” “Chimbita,” and “Friki” with Karol G, Feid’s Colombian swagger is charming over progressive reggaeton beats. He’s part of a new wave of artists from Medellín who are taking reggaeton from Colombia into the future. “All of them are super successful, like Blessd, Ryan Castro, Totoy, Natan y Shander, Crissin, Deko, there’s a lot of new artists from Colombia. Everyone is blowing up. I feel so happy for the genre in Colombia because it keeps growing and it’s been in the spotlight since J Balvin, Maluma, and Karol broke through.”
Recently, Feid was spotted in the studio with legendary producer DJ Premier; fans can look forward to a collaboration from them next. Feid told Latina, “He did a lot of beats for me, but this beat that I used is like the perfect combination. In this song, he and I put our soul into it. It’s like a new Ferxxo doing hip-hop music, but with my same essence. It’s going to be a banger like a perfect song for everything.”
Llane is another rising star from Colombia who appeared at Vibra Urbana. Since leaving the group Piso 21 in 2019, he has made a career as a solo artist. “It’s a gratifying experience because every day I learn something new,” he said. “And to all the people that have followed me after all this time, this is for them.
In addition to exploring reggaeton influences, Llane has tackled boleros like in “Como Antes” and pop like in “Presente y Futuro.” Recently, he collaborated with Argentine singer Khea and Mexican trio Reik for the alternative edged “Alcancía.” About the collaboration, he said, “They’re great people who I admire and love and they gave me a hand. This is going to help take me to the next level.” Llane’s album will be released soon, along with an Amazon Prime series.
Danny Ocean proudly representedVenezuela at Vibra Urbana. In 2016, he became a global presence with the reggaeton anthem “Me Rehúso,” which crossed over 1.6 billion views on YouTube. “I’m very proud to represent my country,” he said. “I think it’s a very big moment for Venezuelan music and I’m glad for the universe for putting me in that position.”
On his recent album “@DannOcean,” he scored another reggaeton hit with “Fuera Del Mercado,” now viral on TikTok. On the LP, he flexed his versatility as an artist with songs that have electronic and rock influences. “I don’t like limiting myself,” he added. “I just follow my heart. In the end, the message is the most important thing.” Ocean also revealed that his electro-pop standout “???” was written about parents who have lost babies. “That sadly happens often,” he said. “I like writing about subjects that people don’t talk about.”
Ocean is hard at work on the second part of his album. As for what he wants to achieve with his music, he said, “I think we’re in a moment where we need a lot of love. I also think [we need] self-love. Love is something we need to hear right now. The best songs in the world have been about love.”
Micro TDH is another Venezuelan artist with plenty of love songs. He told Latina about amplifying the music of his country, “There’s a long and incredible list of artists who represent Venezuela. My dream has been to be among those names who are leaving their mark and doing something beautiful for Venezuela.”
Micro TDH has made his name in the Latin trap scene in Venezuela and he’s branched out into reggaeton bops like “El Tren” with Puerto Rican artist Myke Towers. On his recent album “9,” he continues to explore genres like pop, rock, and dance music. “I don’t want to be boxed into one genre,” Micro TDH said. “I like to show that I can do all types of music.”
For the reggaeton banger “En Soledad,” Micro TDH teamed up with fellow Venezuelan acts Big Soto, Jerry Di, Adso, and Akapellah. About the song, he added, “I believe that collaboration is very important. If we Venezuelan artists come together, we can make a lot more noise in the world.” Micro TDH is already working on his second album.
Corina Smith represented Venezuelan women at Vibra Urbana. “To be doing this, I feel like I’m carrying my country on my shoulders,” she said. Earlier this year, Smith released her debut EP “Antisocial.”
Smith recorded the reggaeton-heavy “Antisocial” EP in Puerto Rico. She teamed up with Nesi from Bad Bunny’s “Yo Perreo Sola” in “A Tu Novia” and Puerto Rican rapper Eladio Carrión in “Roto.” There’s an angst-driven side to Smith’s songs. About the EP, she added, “I feel like as an artist and a person, I’m very antisocial because I feel like I haven’t reached the mainstream yet. I’m like a person on the side doing my own thing and music that feels right to me.”
In her new single “Los Tweets,” Smith gave reggaeton an emo edge. She promised Latina that more new music is on the way. “With my music, I want to cross many borders. I hope it touches people who feel the same way I do.”
In the past decade, Latin trap has taken hold of Argentina thanks to a new wave of Gen-Z artists who have also branched out into the reggaeton genre. Argentina was in the house at Vibra Urbana with Tiago PZK. “There’s an urbana movement happening in Argentina and I feel honored to be part of that wave that’s representing,” he said.
What makes Tiago PZK stand out from his peers is the soulful influence in his songs like “Hablando De Love” and “Entre Nosotros.” Speaking to his inspirations, he said, “I’m a big fan of R&B, soul, and jazz. I’m inspired by Ty Dolla $ign, PartyNextDoor, SZA, and Kali Uchis. A lot of people have inspired me and I think it’s [a] different [sound] for the Latino people.”
Tiago PZK recently released a remix of “Entre Nosotros” with fellow Argentine acts María Becerra, Nicki Nicole, and Lit Killah. “It’s amazing to see that song go far and open doors. I’m very proud. María performed at the American Grammy Awards. Nicki performed at Coachella. Incredible things are happening.” His debut album is due out before the midpoint of this year. About breaking through from Argentina, he added, “I never want to stop dreaming big.”
Emilia proudly represented Argentine women at Vibra Urbana. Since launching her solo career three years ago, she has proven herself as a Latin pop star with songs that span reggaeton, Latin trap, and R&B influences. About her breakthrough, she said, “It’s a pleasure and honor to be Argentine and see that we’re getting more recognition. Imagine, we’re in Con Sur, far away from everything like Miami, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Mexico, which are the larger markets.”
Emilia put on a spectacular show that featured her recent single “Cuatro Viente,” which reached No. 2 on Billboard Argentina’s Hot 100 chart last month. She gave a fierce performance of the sexy reggaeton anthem that had the crowd moving. On the experience, she noted, “I love to step on the stage and bring my music to different countries. Imagine that there are people who don’t speak my language and that are singing my songs. For me, that’s beautiful and it keeps me going.” Emilia said her debut album is due out later this year.
Eladio Carrión was a highlight at Vibra Urbana. The Puerto Rican rapper tore through his trap and reggaeton bangers. Beyond genre, Carrión is proving to be an important voice for Latin rap. Having grown up in Kansas City and in Puerto Rico, a bicultural experience informs his fierce flow. “I have like the best of both worlds,” he said with a smile.
Last year, Carrión released three albums in which he flexed across genres. He doesn’t want to be boxed in, he told us, “They gotta let me be me. I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I’m just trying to make music how I like to do it and people like it, so that’s a blessing.”
Carrión is setting the trends in Latin music. In the “Tata” remix, he courted J Balvin and Daddy Yankee into the emerging drill genre. The multicultural collaboration also included Bobby Shmurda. Speaking about the song, he said, “I’m a big fan [of drill] since way back. I did a drill with J Balvin. Who does that? Who puts Daddy Yankee on a drill? They usually put him on reggaeton. I’m just a fan of music.”
As for what’s next, Carrión promises bangers and features “with lots of women.” He’s especially excited for the latter, adding, “I got crazy songs with women! I’m very happy about that.” Carrión also did a surprise drop of his new single “Sin Frenos” with Argentine acts Bizarrap and Duki.