This is the music of the Latinx rebel yellers — the millennials who never took “no” for an answer, the ones who created magic from right where they were and left their critics suddenly unpretentious. Whether they began in the gritty city of neon and chrome, under the scorching heat of southern sunshine or reached for stardom from their meek island — they represent the luxe sounds of the future. These are the mesmeric soon-to-be mainstays who contribute sonically and push our culture forward.
1. ATK2017: Dave East
Dave East embodies the American dream. The Dominicano and Bajan emcee grew up in El Barrio, NYC in a taxing project community. Yet, he emerged as one of Def Jam’s biggest threats. The divine arrangement of his life turned seemingly tragic circumstances into red carpet magic. He was once NBA bound, however, his promising basketball career was halted following his incarceration. Hip-hop became East’s salvation, as he poured all his anxiety and experiences into imaginative lyricism.
In time, East caught the ear of the legendary Nas and was swiftly inked to his imprint Mass Appeal Records. “Nas was there for me when I was in the projects. Mass Appeal will always have a near and dear place in my heart. That label introduced my sound to the world, and the Def Jam/Triangle Offense partnership placed me on a bigger platform,” said a humble East. As a dedicated rapper with resilient artistry, he habitually plays his old mixtapes with ceaseless ambitions of musical progression. East is fresh off his cross-country tour and credits his mentor Nas as an inspiration, in addition to Big Pun and The Diplomats.
The mainstream newcomer already broke number one on Billboard, alongside Boricua Broadway musical Hamilton creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, with the uplifting message of song, “Wrote My Way Out.” There has been no buzz shortage since, already accumulating millions of streams on his own singles. Still, with these triumphs, East hasn’t lost sight of his greatest blessing to date, the recent birth of his daughter. “I am a walking testament. If something doesn’t work out you can still bounce back,” said East.
2. ATK2017: BIA
Bostonian bi-racial Boricua emcee BIA has been behind the scenes finessing her lyricism towards mainstream airwaves for years. Her hunger initially shined through on the Oxygen series, Sisterhood of Hip Hop. However, her moment did not come until much later on the 17 Annual Latin Grammys stage. The slim figured rapper’s heavy showmanship came out swinging as fiercely as her wavy hair extensions. Alongside her I AM OTHER cosign Pharrell, and the beloved J Balvin, the Latino community was forced to become acquainted.
The streets are buzzing about the release of her hardcore meets fashion-forward project Trap Vogue.But BIA has been profound from the start and it resonates now more than ever. At the top of 2016, she teamed up with super-producer Bunx Dadda and rapped, “If Gucci’s coming home then we don’t need no Donald Trump.” Today she reflects on her premonition stating she feels “disappointed but not defeated. The youth needs to know this is what it is right now, but this is not what it will be forever.”
In 2017, progressiveness is her only focus – after having explored Puerto Rico and much of South America for the first time. BIA feels connected to her culture like never before. With well-over 300 million impressions on the “Safari” video, she is taking her music a step further. The rapper is learning Spanish and channeling one of her idols, Ivy Queen – for her upcoming genre-merging Spanish project. Already halfway through the mixtape, BIA says she’s excited and pushing her sound where she never thought she would go. This year she is taking it global and we’re equally enthusiastic to hear more.
3. ATK2017: Kap G
First generation Mexican-American rapper Kap G vividly recalls his immigrant parents’ modest household. “Seeing my family struggle in College Park, Georgia, trying to make things happen, influenced me to hustle. I am the youngest of my siblings. My parents always had my back, and now I want to be able to take care of my family financially,” said Kap G.
El Southside, his most recent project featured him wearing a crisp embellished button up, a belt highlighted by a gaudy buckle, with a white sombrero and matching cowboy boots – while his Atlanta ‘hood turnt up behind him. Kap G does not water down the blatant collusion of culture which stimulates his raps. His last music video “Girlfriend” is approaching 10 million views. That is overwhelming success for an upcoming hip-hop artist. The high of that single has him recording his upcoming mixtape, Supa Jefe, under Atlantic Records, with a gusto we have yet to witness.
His iconic mentor and I Am Other colleague, Pharrell, took him under his wing and pushed him towards the big screen. In the film “DOPE,” Kap G played the street smart character, Fidel, who personified the same swagger as the emcee we adore. “Pharrell told me to ‘stay true to myself and don’t change,’” he affirmed. “Latino millennials should go hard for whatever they want - especially if they are in the United States,” he continued. So, what is he manifesting? Kap G will produce superior stanzas, recognition is the rap world, crossover reggaeton music and a collaboration with his hometown heroes, Outkast.
4. ATK2017: Karen Rodriguez
After sleeping on cold stadium bleachers twice and being sent home, Karen Rodriguez thought auditioning for American Idol may not be for her. But she has truly proved the saying, “third time’s a charm.” She drew just enough inspirations during season 10 to submit a tryout video to one of her idols, Jennifer Lopez. Breaking language barriers she belted out Selena’s “No Me Queda Mas,” and the stars aligned. “I was the first to sing in Spanish. This is a country of immigrants. Even though it’s called American Idol, to me, that is what America represents,” she said. Round after round, she won the hearts of crowds, and even the hopeful cheers of icon Marc Anthony.
“I told Marc it was a dream to work with him,” said Karen Rodriguez. American Idol might have sent her home, but she ran straight to the studio – to record background vocals on Marc Anthony’s number one smash, “Vivir Mi Vida.” One hand always leads to the next, and her pen game founds its way to Romeo Santos’ studio session giving her the big brother she never had. She tunefully inked Romeo Santos’ collaboration “Odio” with both Drake, and “Trust” featuring reggaetonero Tego Calderon – making her a sought-after songwriter to the Latin charts A-List.
Desperately needing to express herself artistically, Karen Rodriguez began uploading her Spanish translated song covers on YouTube. Surely, a few videos received viral success, and broke through to Billboard’s Latin Digital charts’ top ten. “I look up to women CEO’s and bosses who stand their ground. They don’t take ‘no,’ for an answer. I learned how to do it for my music. Women should find what their passion is and really do everything they can to hone in on that,” said Karen Rodriguez. The one woman army was undoubtedly worthy, and Romeo Santos’ signature is freshly contracted to her imaginings with Roc Nation Latin.
5. ATK2017: Messiah
The self-proclaimed “artista de musica urbana” is the last man standing from Washington Heights, New York. Messiah el Artista masterfully blends his bilingual bars between perfectly balanced bachata, trap, and reggaeton fused hip-hop beats. This hometown hero is light-years away from his meek musical introduction of passing his mixtapes throughout local Dominican barbershops and beauty salons.
He has astounded Madison Square Garden and showgrounds across the globe, crossing language barriers as the King of Latin remixes. His debut Made In Europe was released independently and his tracks earned praise from kingpins such as, 50 Cent, Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee. Let’s not forget how he recently forged a major key to his legacy as the voice of Gatorade’s “Counter Attack” movement.
What resonates to Latino millennials is his reliability. Messiah represents with rhythmical Spanglish transparency. This year he looks forward to reproducing our parents’ favorite Latin romantic classics while finessing his urban essence. This is going to be an exhilarating year – Diddy selected Messiah for a second campaign with Sean John. We’ll be seeing his face plastered on billboards, throughout Macy’s everywhere and glowing down fashion week runways.
6. ATK2017: Maxine Ashley
Imagine retro soul vibrations that leave urban spoken word rudiments on your pallet – permeated through the savory boldness of a Bronx Latina, and you’ve got Maxine Ashley. She is just that beautifully complexed. “I am an artist. I am not a character,” she proclaimed confidently. Maxine Ashley is a member of the distinguished SONY ATV family.
At 22 years young, she reflects on the previous misfortunes of the heart which fashioned her most fruitful art. Paranoid her latest project is a twisted exquisite rollercoaster of emotions. It represents her spiritual release “from jail” or the conformities that were invisibly earmarked with her former musical affiliations, she confessed.
Through all tribulations, Maxine Ashley’s compositions prove her evolution is uninterrupted. With a philosophy that is beyond her years, her appreciation remains with all the genuine tuneful bonds she formed along the way. The control she has over her voice echoes goddesses of the past, such as her idols, La Lupe and La India. Eyes are glued to her, and labels whispers surround her, but make no mistake, Maxine Ashley’s free spirit will always be signed to her vision of her greatest self.
7. ATK2017: Cardi B
“People think that because you have an online following, you automatically make it in the music industry. Sometimes your personality can overshadow your artistry. It was hard for me,” said Cardi B – the brazen Trinidadian and Dominican Bronx-bred social media queen-turned-emcee. She is both celebrated and frowned upon for her inability to soften her delivery. Whether you find her talking her talk on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, BET’s Being Mary Jane or her illustrious new mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Vol. 2, it is clear, homegirl never cared! Her evolution is not one to be slept on.
She gave feminism a facelift by climbing up her stripper pole towards an unapologetic lucrative empire. You can find her Jessica Rabbit-esque physique laced in latest couture or stomping through the hood in a pair of Timberland construction boot, alongside her equally animated baby sister. And well, that’s what makes her Cardi. She challenges normality and what mainstream indefinites as true hustle, by acknowledging the women in the trenches of hard knock street life.
This jack of all trades is in fact the master of some, because she is gaining credibility among rap aficionados, as well as on your small screen. New York City continues to lift her on its shoulder because the young millennial does damage in every avenue. Not to mention, her home team stations Hot 97 and Power 105 are spinning her records heartily. With a personality that exudes “this is me and this is what it is,” you can’t help but anticipate the fierceness buffed on her upcoming debut album.
8. ATK2017: Mr. Paradise
“Hearts have no races and know no borders,” says recent Roc Nation Latin signee, Mr. Paradise. This Afro-Latino is not exactly what you might picture when you think of a Roc boy. There is no Hov chaining, only a guitar and profound political bars. Over flamenco infused hip-hop rhythms, Mr. Paradise challenges social issues, while pulling his listeners minds away from materialism.
His single “Forastero” intensely depicts the alienating emotions surrounding going astray or immigration. Mr. Paradise writes and lives his lyrics. He was born in the Dominican Republic, but relocated to Madrid, Spain where he developed an ear for bridging the gaps between diasporas.
Mr. Paradise gained Romeo Santos cosign by using his art as a catalysis for change. “I am excited about this year because I finally found my team. Roc Nation Latin is giving me the backup I always dreamed of to express myself,” confessed Mr. Paradise. He is a vessel for Latinos who do not have the privilege of syndicated platforms to tell their unfiltered truth.
9. ATK2017: Princess Nokia
Wistful splashes of Santeria bully through poetic alternative hip-hop beats, and soon surfaces the venomous speech of Princess Nokia. The pretty faced ill-spitter flexes on tracks, but speaks sweetly about her musical motifs. “I draw upon the Black and brown urban experience of the inner-city woman. I visually convey what is a part of my everyday repertoire. I always like to reflect the parts of New York that are so authentic, raw, and beautiful,” enlightened Princess Nokia.
Her musical enticement is harmonious with the strong primitive aspects of how Black and brown NYC women exist. “They have to exist with violence. They have to exist with what is not conventionally beautiful. That is my reality,” she affirms. For many reasons, Princess Nokia is nothing short of wondrous.
The emcees’ narration is tangible for women around the way, but her wisdom, at minimum, is decades her senior. Feminists ought to rejoice about the way she fluently breaks down the constraints of masculinity. Princess Nokia’s tomboy lyricism stands in solidarity with defiant rebellious spirits, and we’re here for it.
10. ATK2017: Victoria La Mala
“If Tupac and Selena had a love child it would be me,” laughed Mexico City’s Victoria La Mala. Roc Nation Latin’s latest bad girl caught her first hip-hop chola vibes from her summers with her favorite young tias in Los Angeles. “My aunts would play west coast music and Biggie Smalls, but my parents listened to Jenni Rivera and traditional Mexican music. Those bicultural sounds influenced my melodies,” said Victoria La Mala.
A few million YouTube hits later, she appeals to a new generation of Latinos. Her honeyed accent is thick, yet her vocals sphere with precision. Similarly, there is a brain behind her gorgeous face – she is fixated on entrepreneurship. “Jay Z and Romeo Santos are two of the artist I’ve admired forever. It’s unreal to be signed to an international company and model my career after theirs. They changed business and the game in each one of their genres,” said Victoria La Mala.
This insight did not come without struggle. She’s faced her share of personal battles. “I used to be heavier. People used to tell I was never going to make it as an artist. We live in a society that tells us you either have this or you look like that, or you are not beautiful. The new generation needs to spread love and positivity. We should tell women we don’t have to be clones. We don’t have to have the same body type, but we do need to be happy with ourselves,” she said. Well put chula!
11. ATK2017: Nitty Scott, MC
The multi-dimensional Afro-Latina Nitty Scott, MC, oozes consciousness through rhymes reminiscent of old school flavor on concrete beats. With a treacherous climb through New York’s robust streets, the Orlando native proved herself a king. Already touring much of the world, the highly cultured rapstress contests mainstreams concept of exquisiteness saying, “They can’t put me in a box.”
Her braids or kinky crown lay luxurious, overtop her striking bamboos. One thing is for sure, Scott is independently doing it her way. As the sexiest third of the Latino mega-group, No Panty, Scott is poesy, doused in bomba music. She holds her own. On her latest “Westside Highway Story,” Scott sons grown men, alongside her forceful counterparts Joelle Ortiz and Bodega Bamz.
Her upcoming EP “Creature!,” will only further broaden her never-ending intersectionality. As a curvaceous openly bisexual woman, she has grown comfortable within all the ideations that contribute to her multifaceted radicalism. Her sparkling tongue spits witty bars like, “I got a Black daddy and my mama Puerto Rican. That’s cornbread and empanadas on the weekend.” Scott isn’t panicking, she’ll tell you about 2017, “It’s all me.”
12. ATK2017: Al Doe
Al Doe’s perico scented punchlines are an ode to New York City. He is confident with reason, the indie rapper earned a plethora of cosigns from hip-hop titans. His next project streams under the narration of famed DJ Drama – ensuring this will be his most polished body of work to date.
Still there’s been no musical retreat, as he is half-way through the follow-up. Under the production of Atlanta’s venerated Don Cannon, a genre fusion of wordsmithing is in route. “While I was down south, I linked up with Lil Uvi Vert and Migos. We were in the same compound and that’s where my producer and I conceptualized the next EP,” explained Al Doe.
His hard body mantra exudes like, “front row or don’t go.” So, it is no surprise he’s considering a few distribution bids. Correspondingly, he will make his return to your small screen. We are talking major leagues by the end of 2017. Let’s see!
13. ATK2017: MOMO
There is a new Cubanita shaking her bite-sized liveliness all over your TV screen. Singer-actress-dancer MoMo is hungry, and hurdles to the forefront of music’s rising tropical sensations. “I feel like music chose me, I didn’t choose it. This is bigger than me. My mission is to spread light. Light to me represents faith, inspiration and hope. I had to become light in order to be that on a record, or a stage,” she declared.
With the colorful dance presentation of “Si Tu Boquita,” fans can’t turn away from her electric homage to the Boricua pioneer Iris Chacon. Her upcoming self-titled EP, will be accompanied by energetic videos which explicitly detail the migration of her culture. MoMo pours passion into all she does, and is determined to become a notable voice for the twenty-something-year-old Latino generation.
“With You” her next single is on course, and her Urban Latino Management U.S. tour is just around the corner. MoMo venerates Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan for inspiration. The self-proclaimed “firecracker” sings effortlessly cross-genre in both English and Spanish – while she secretly yearns for a Nicky Jam collaboration. Her attractiveness is not a representation of a sultry formulated brown girl stereotype, because her sex appeal is authentic. MoMo is a perfectly blended triple threat package.
14. ATK2017: Snow The Product
Snow Tha Product said, "If #woke is a huge hashtag now [and] I said it in 2010, maybe I am on to something." Today her fans flood her venues wearing designs snatched out the Woke Store, filtered through her mindful website WakeYaGameUp.com. After headlining national tours, this is not only emcee, Snow Tha Product’s lifestyle, it is her profitable brand.
The Mexicana gave millions an earful on The Hamilton Mixtape’s “Immigrant” brilliantly jested “We Get the Job Done.” Like the ancestors she reverences, Snow Tha Product built her way out of seemingly nothing. No rapper out looks like her, and beyond crafty bars, she is asking millennials to pay attention to politics – to find the tools to safeguard themselves under the new tyranny termed American presidency.
Her immaculate smoky eyes are on the prize. In 2017, she feels liberated, even singing about her womanhood – which translates on her activism driven singles, soon to be released. “Latinas are more than the sexy bodies on TV. A lot of times our intellect and culture are outshined by mainstream oversexualizing our women. The world should appreciate our beauty and understand that is not the main event, we are bigger than that,” roared Snow The Product. Are you listening?
15. ATK2017: Bunx Dadda
Bunx Dadda’s international production and island riddims have been circulating for over a decade. He carried his father’s renowned DJ/MC legacy from the West Indies all the way to UMPG (Universal Music Publishing Group). Fans now hear his cross-genre music everywhere from critically acclaimed New York Fashion Week runway anthems and Top 40 radio favorites, to the box office hits’ screens.
As the CEO of indie powerhouse Stereo Gold and a self-proclaimed vibe guru, Bunx Dadda is responsible for building some of your favorite Latino artists’ catalogues. Look at Colombiana phenomenon Kali Uchis, he produced on her underground mixtapes and beyond – “Know What I Want” looped through the film “DOPE,” as well as South American stations.
Whether you love retro doo-wop or futuristic trap music, he creates and knows what is next to blow. Bunx Dadda’s Caribbean connection helped build the sound of Puerto Rican songstress Maxine Ashley. Also, he laced BIA’s smash “Gucci Comin’ Home” and additional singles from her latest project “Trap Vogue.” What is clear is that he loves and is great for our culture. Currently, Bunx Dadda fans are celebrating his latest project PALMS (Peace And Love Mind Set) through the Nu Vibes Sound trademark – which highlights his rising protégé Jrx.
16. ATK2017: Audri Nix
Audri Nix’s melodic San Juan sound melts otherworldly hip-hop bars with captivating sensuality. Her tiny frame can be spotted fitted in gnarly bondage tops, and radical statement pieces – creating a blissful balance the underground scene adores her for. Her first EP “El Nuevo Orden Vol.1,” made its debut on radio aficionado Ebro’s Beats 1 Radio show. Audri Nix’s tracks spun on Boricua radio stations and beyond.
Today she is passionate about taking her youthful message of women empowerment to the next level. With Puerto Rico facing a troubling climate, Audri Nix says, “I am motivated to go harder and proud of where I come from. They need to hear me! I’m fascinated when a song is huge in London. Sometimes it’s surprising. Canadian listeners have reacted to my music. You don’t expect it. How in the world do I emails from Korea?” With music being the universal language, it is clear that this island girl is worthy of global praise.
“You don’t need to speak Spanish to like my music,” said Audri Nix. She is beaming over the eccentric 2017 visuals surrounding her upcoming project, “Niña de Oro.” Her first single “Más” is gaining momentum, and Audri Nix will be singing more while touring within the states. The self-proclaimed golden girl continues to dance across stages, encouraging women to use their voice – hers is simply celestial.
17. ATK2017: LaRyss
LaRyss is the vivacious garden-fresh songstress riding through the dirty south. An acapella on YouTube will tell the entire truth – and that is exactly what she is. Respected for her Selena Quintanilla and mainstream song covers, LaRyss ditched her college fashion scholarship and sang her heart out instead.
Following viral success, Houston radio stations began looping her versions (or remixes) of reggeatoneros songs, such as J Balvin. Her EP Hues of Gold included illustrations that stripped her down bare to only golden body paint – leaving her more vulnerable than ever before. Her single “First Place,” was requested so frequently throughout Texas, she made a Spanish version, too.
The ordinarily Tex-Mex bubbly princess became an enlightened woman before spectator’s eyes. Her message of self-discovering symbolically demonstrated in her recent “Gold” video – as splendor forms from everything women touch. And even though her contoured makeup is flawless, she will be the first to remind you “the exploration for beauty comes from within."