The Second Latin Explosion: How ‘Despacito’ Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

Variety | 10/18/2019 | Cata Balzano
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Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention.

The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin music a hot commodity once again, with the popularity of social media and streaming platforms only amplifying its presence.

Effect - Sight - Fonsi - Latin - Grammy

“It was all a snowball effect that was never really in sight,” says Fonsi, a five-time Latin Grammy winner — four of those awards for “Despacito.” “It was just crazy — crossing over without me having to sing in English, and Justin Bieber’s addition to the equation four months later for the remix.”

What Emilio Estefan calls the “reverse crossover” was in full effect. The success of the song inspired collaborations with Anglo artists looking to sing in Spanish. All of a sudden, Drake, Beyoncé, Sean Paul and Katy Perry began joining the likes of J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee, further affirming that Latin Music was stronger than ever.

Fonsi - Years - Tours - Mexico - South

As Fonsi points out: “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and before, my tours [traveled to] Mexico, South America, Spain and Latin cities in the U.S. Since ‘Despacito.’ I have been able to perform in Russia, China and the Middle East. I’ve been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Everybody is bringing their A game to break that language and cultural barrier.”

Growing up, Karol G only recalls Juanes and Shakira as international artists from her country, Colombia. They had broken the language barrier in the early 2000s. She, too, aspired to work in music and win a Latin Grammy. She achieved that dream in 2018, winning for new artist, but she couldn’t imagine that Latin music would...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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