Top 5 Latin Albums of 2018
2018 could be deemed as the continuation of the Latin takeover as pop hit makers such as Justin Bieber and Beyonce continued taking advantage of the Latino sound. Pop stars of all genres intermingled with certain Latino superstars to create chart topping hits ala 2017’s “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi.
While it created a statement that indeed there should be no walls, it was almost as if they started building the wall together just to make a chart topping hit. Lucky for many; the wall was built with the sound of music.
Latinos have such an inmenseful culture full of feeling that gravitates to those that did not grow in Spain, Mexico, Cuba or any other latin country. Music is the expression of many and the Latino culture is full of flavor. For example, the island music of Puerto Rico brings us Reggaeton, Spain has the flamenco ballads, Mexico has the trumpeting Rancheras and there are many riches to be discovered within the latino community. But, what is it that makes Latin Music such an impactful force to non-spanish listeners?
Well, let me tell you. The way music is written for one. Just like Country music, Latinos are straight-forward with their writing. They talk about drugs, betrayal, love, and family with no filters while also talking about having a good time whether it is sexual or at a club with such ease. It’s the emotion drawn from real life situations and the way they build upon it to make you feel their pain, happiness, or struggle.
Second, it’s the sex appeal of looking different and having curves. Take Shakira for instance, who in the 2000’s crossed over and instantly became a house name with her belly dancing moves. I bet that nobody realized that the pop songs she introduced to us also introduced Tango and Arabic music. All they realized was her beauty, her hips, and that the music made you want to hit the dance floor. While that is a good thing, Latino music is powerful. It will make you move.
Latino culture is everywhere, chances are it’s even in your grocery stores. 2018 is a lucky one because this year it introduced a sound like Hip Hop who was familiar within only the culture before exploding into popularity.
This year it gave us the island sound of the Caribbean feel, hip hop-combo, music of Puerto Rico; grind on Reggaeton. Not only did it make waves into Spanish radio but it crossed over to help create hits for hip-hop artist like Cardi B in her single (one of this years biggest) “I like it” featuring two Reggaeton hit makers on our list, J Balvin and Bad Bunny.
This is our TOP 5 Latino Albums of 2018…...
#5 Piso 21 - Ubuntu
A group with over a decade of making music in their local home town and returning with their major label sophomore follow up Ubuntu which does not disappoint. The Columbian group brings back that feel good music that talks about love and good vibes. It is an album that opens and closes with real issues a heart can relate to. Some memorable tracks are “La Vida Sin Ti” or “Dejala Que Vuelva.”
#4 Maluma - F.A.M.E
Columbian superstar, Maluma’s third studio album F.A.M.E was a banger on the Billboard Latin Charts and peaking at #1 no less. His lead single “Corazon” became an instant hit within the Latino community but it wasn’t until “Felices los 4” that Maluma tore down walls performing the song during the 2018 MTV Music Awards. F.A.M.E is his first bilingual album featuring tracks in english and spanish featuring Timbaland and Jason Derulo. The album is a reggaeton/pop-dance album filled with domination, betrayal, and plenty of sexual fantasies.
#3 Bad Bunny - x100pre
Bad Bunny x100pre (Por Siempre) is an album that truly identifies what hip-hop and reggaeton should sound like when combined and I think one of the best Reggaeton debuts of 2018. While he experiments with other styles from pop/rock to bachata Bad Bunny is a chameleonic figure, adaptable to almost any style. Having support from Diplo and even Ricky Martin. However, it was the lead single “Mia” featuring Drake and the Cardi B smash “I Like it” that really shined some light on the name Bad Bunny. He is an artist that speaks for his country and is not afraid experiment with sound. Bad Bunny x100pre is the voice of young Puerto Rico.
#2 Rosalia - El Mal Querer
El Mal Querer is an album that brings the spanish tradition of flamenco into play within our modern world. The opening track teleports you into a spanish gypsy wonderland. The writing is a poetic symbolism awaiting to be discovered. A few fan favorites include the single, “Pienso en tu Mira” wich is literally a love ballad affair and a straight bullet to the heart. The song “Bagdad” re-samples a famous pop song, “Cry me a river” by Justin Timberlake. El Mal Querer is an album in its entirety is one full of art, culture, poetry but most important it is a story to be heard.
#1 J Balvin - Vibras
While the name J Balvin is a name that hasn’t created a full identity yet to the english listening audience chances are you actually know his music. In his fifth debut album Vibras the leading single “Mi Gente” featuring Willy Williams broke into the #1 spot worldwide. However, that is not the reason he ranks #1 on this list.
J Balvin gives us a colorful tour of Latin America with soundful, flaver full beats of Reggaeton, a R’n’B, Pop and a little bit of Dance all while featuring some of Latin America’s prestige artists like Carla Morrison, Zion & Lennox and Wisin y Yandel. This album is the latin little black dress you want to take off and put back on then repeat the process; therefore making Vibras the #1 Latin Album of 2018.
Hopes for 2019? We can only hope you think of Latino music even when it starts to fade off your radio dial because aside from the Tacos, Tortas, and Burritos there is an array of magic in Latin Music.
Review by Erick Belleza | Erick@wiredwithmusic.com