On the Radar Latin: Eduardo Galan, Nora Gonzalez & More Emerging Artists to Discover
Every month, Billboard Latin editors will feature a small group of new or relatively unknown artists whose music we love. Think “diamantes en bruto,” or “diamonds in the rough.” These are newcomers who have yet to impact the mainstream — but whose music excites us, and who we believe our readers should make a point to discover.
Our recommendations this month are emerging artists that we met during Billboard‘s 2022 Latin Music Week in Miami. Check them out below:
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Singer-songwriter Blondiak struck me as a relatable, humble musician who is eager to grow and keep honing his craft. The Latin urban artist from Colombia, who works independently with the support of his family through their very own company, BK MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT LLC, has a dozen songs published on his YouTube channel, including the reggaetón tunes “Se cansó” (She got tired) and “Algo más” (Something more), and the tropical infused banger “Guaya,” which he released earlier this month. Blondiak, 22, was nominated this year for a Latino Show Award in his native country, in the developing artist category. Based in Miami since four years ago, he says he is 100% dedicated to music, and that his next plans include releasing an album, collaborating with other artists and promoting his music through Latin America. I am curious to see where he’s at five years from now. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS
Song for Your Playlist: “Guaya”
King David Dembow
Country: Puerto Rico
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: At Latin Music Week, a very eager emerging artist approached me introducing himself as “a Boricua who does dembow music.” With a royal name, King David Dembow launched his first official single last year, “Rompele,” and is signed to indie label High End Entertainment. The dembowsero newcomer has released many singles that best showcase his fast-paced beats and witty lyrics, as heard in “Calle,” “Ella Eh,” and the recent “Calor.” — JESSICA ROIZ
Song for Your Playlist: “Calor”
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Daniel Arana is all about intentionality. The Mexican-American urban artist released his debut album, DALE, on a full moon — when energetically it’s the strongest — and his lyrics are all about spotlighting queer love and relationships. “My goal is to help mainstream Latin music become more LGBT-friendly, and to help the Latinx community become more open-minded while helping those struggling to be who they are,” he told the Billboard team during Latin Music Week. While he is more traditional-leaning sonically, with reggaetón drums powering his songs, lyrically, he’s less traditional. For example, “Lento,” which is part of his latest LP, is about coming out and embracing his queer identity. — GRISELDA FLORES
Song for Your Playlist: “Lento”
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Venezuelan Eduardo Galán really stood out not only because of his commanding presence but because of his charisma and his bubbly personality. I was gladly surprised to find out that his song “Te Prometo” (I promise you) is just an extension of that — an infectious, positive tropical pop tune that invites you to dance and smile. “And I promise to take you to heaven, to make you touch the sun,” the singer-songwriter, who lives in Spain, sings in his mother tongue. “This life is too short not to try,” he goes on. He is certainly giving music his best shot.
Also worth mentioning: His ballad “Bienvenida” (Welcome) dedicated to his young baby girl, with a cute music video starring his then-pregnant wife. With a music style somewhat reminiscent of Chino y Nacho or Chayanne, Galán is releasing music independently through Eduardo Galán Group. He plans to debut two new singles in November and January — one Cuban jazz and one merengue, he told Billboard Español — as he prepares for his first concerts in Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla next year. — S.RA
Song for Your Playlist: “Te Prometo”
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: J Molina represents a growing number of Mexican-born artists dabbling in reggaetòn. The singer-songwriter, born in Monterrey, Mexico, and currently residing in Texas, was one of the many emerging artists I came across during Latin Music Week, where he passionately talked about growing the reggaetón scene in Texas. After launching his career in 2010, Molina took it upon himself to create his own opportunities — launching his indie label The Kingz Factory in 2021 to release his own music and help develop up-and-coming local urban acts, such as La Yadi, who’s featured in his latest single “Tabú.” With a few singles under his belt, Molina’s reggaetón can be described as melodic and subtle as opposed to hard-hitting or raunchy. His rhythmic beats are powered by the traditional reggaetón drums. — G.F.
Song for Your Playlist: “Tabú”
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: I first discovered Nora González in 2021 when she was a two-time Latin Grammy nominee and was excited to see her networking at Latin Music Week. González, who also has promising collaborations with Lupita Infante and Vicente Fernandez Jr., is still a rising act in her own right. Her powerhouse and mature vocals bring a refreshing, bilingual touch to traditional mariachi music, which has ultimately dubbed her the “Charra Millennial.” Originating from Chihuahua, Mexico, and a Berklee College of Music alumn, González is recently making the rounds with her seven-track set Xtina, where she gives Christina Aguilera’s biggest hits a Regional Mexican tribute. González is signed to and managed by CHR Records. — J.R.
Song for Your Playlist: “Pero Me Acuerdo De Ti”
Country: Mexico, Nicaragua
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: If her mix of cultures — Nicaraguan-Mexican-American — is any indication, Shiela is an emerging Latinx artist who’s delivering innovative Latin R&B rhythms. With her sultry voice, the Texas-born, Miami-based artist brings to life empowered lyricism, as heard in recent singles “Estas Mal” and “Soltera.” Shiela is inspired by artists such as Sade and Selena Quintanilla and has already graced the renowned stages of SXSW and Austin City Limits Music Festival on multiple occasions. Shiela officially kicked off her career in 2017 with the debut single “Runaway,” and dropped her debut, bilingual album Chilita in 2021. — J.R.
Song for Your Playlist: “Estas Mal”
Victor & Gabo
Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Victor & Gabo is a Venezuelan duo formed by Víctor Portillo and Carlos Espinoza who I met on the first day of Latin Music Week. They shared a little about their story and passion for music. Listening to them now, they are a fusion of fresh tropical-urban and romantic melodies, featuring Gabo’s chanteos and Victor’s sweet, higher range. Theo du recently released their new single, “Cantinero,” a song that mixes regional Mexican music with pop and Latin rhythms, proving their versatility. — INGRID FAJARDO
Song For Your Playlist: “Cantinero”
Country: Cuba, Ecuador
Why They Should Be On Your Radar: If there’s anyone whom I’ve personally seen hustle and bustle since our college days, it’s Vikina. Dipping her toes in Latin pop, reggaeton, and even forming part of a group, the Miami-based bilingual act has finally defined her sound, embracing the growing Latin EDM realm. The third finalist on the Daddy Yankee-produced Univision reality, “Reina de la Cancion,” and signed to Pitbull’s label Mr. 305, Inc., Vikina is ready to continue conquering the world with her fierce personality and sugary vocals. “I’ve always identified as an urban artist because of my flow but my heart has always been with dance music,” she noted in her Spotify bio. — J.R.
Song For Your Playlist: “Me Dejaste Sola”
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Amongst the many aspiring artists at Latin Music Week, I came across Wanton Chulito (real name: Yoandris Wanton). Hailing from Santiago de Cuba, the Texas-based singer-songwriter is fusing traditional Cubaton rhythms with other genres such as bachata and dembow. With the mission of getting more eyes and ears on his music, Wanton has strategically collaborated with many artists, including Dominican act Bulova and Cuban artist El Taiger. — J.R.
Song for Your Playlist: “Candela” (feat. Bulova)