By: Eduardo Cepeda
Univision’s 16th-annual Premios Juventud nominations were announced on Tuesday, and the list of nominees included many of the artists who have already been making big waves in the Latino music industry for some time, including Bad Bunny, Karol G, J Balvin, Ozuna, and Daddy Yankee to name a few.
But one of the categories we’re most excited for is the just-added “The New Urban Generation,” which spotlights some of the brightest up-and-coming stars in Urbano. And while many of these artists have been making moves in the industry for some time now, for many, this is the year marks a breaking point, in which they’ve managed to garner much wider audiences.
Here’s a look at the nominees:
It’s not often (or ever for that matter) that we see a professional, record-breaking swimmer successfully pivot to stand-up comic, then again shift – this time becoming one of the most sought-after rappers working in urbano today. His deep baritone, coupled with his versatility on the mic have seen him land work with artists like Zion & Lennox (who he opened for at a sold-out Choliseo date), Noriel, Ñejo, and Jon Z (with whom he also released a yeehaw-inducing cover of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”). With an opening slot on J Balvin’s just announced Arcoiris Tour, expect big things from Carrion in 2019.
Sech may be one of the most exciting urbano artists to make big waves this year, period. His recently-released album, Sueños debuted at No. 8 on the Top Latin Albums chart and also debuted at No. 6 on the Latin Rhythm Albums chart. The album showcases his ability to blend some of the smoothest vocal melodies with club-friendly perreo, and has co-signs and guest appearances from the likes of Nicky Jam, Maluma, Justin Quiles, and Dalex. The Panamanian reggaetonero will surely make big waves this year, and help bring the spotlight back Panama – where reggaeton’s seeds were planted.
Danielle Curiel, better known as DaniLeigh has one of the most impressive resumes on this list – including working as a backup dancer for Pitbull and Daddy Yankee, and writing, shooting, and directing a video for Prince. But as she recently told Remezcla, getting to this level required a major leap of faith. “Dancing paid my bills [and] my parents’ bills, but I started to realize no one is going to take me seriously as an artist dancing behind other artists. From there, I was just like, ‘I really gotta quit dancing and just sacrifice everything.’” Her bachata-tinged single “All Day” showcases her Dominican roots – making it an irresistible anthem.
Paloma Mami, whose real name is Paloma Rocío Castillo Astorga, had a hit on her hands before even being signed to a label. Her bilingual single “Not Steady,” caused an A&R at Sony to catch a flight to Chile to sign the New York-Born, Chile-raised singer. Her relaxing blend of trap beats with R&B vocals have made her part of the new so-called Latin R&B wave, of which others like Rauw Alejandro also claim space in.
Keeping in theme with former athletes turned reggaetoneros (Daddy Yankee, Eladio Carrion), Rauw Alejandro – a former soccer player who suffered a career-ending injury at 20 – picked up the pieces of his first chosen career, and turned them into a successful trek into music. “It was like that era of remixes with a bunch of artists. So we started doing our own remixes and had like our own boom. People started listening to us, and that’s when we got fans who would come up to us locally and ask for photos, and people started to go, ‘Okay, what’s happening here?’ The doors started opening,” he recently told Remezcla.
A co-sign and invitation from Ozuna to be featured on “Luz Apaga” set things off, and it’s been smooth sailing for him since.
El Nene Amenaza, or Amenazzy are the aliases of Dominican singer José Daniel Betances, whose lighter take on reggaeton has catapulted him to the top of the new wave of urbano artists. With co-signs from the likes of Farruko and Nicky Jam, and a recent guest appearance at Bad Bunny’s Madison Square Garden date, we’re sure to hear a lot more from him this year.
As part of the duo Jayma y Dalex, 28-year-old Pedro David Delaccio Torres collaborated with artists including Cosculluela and Justin Quiles. And he’s had even more success as a solo performer, recently releasing his “Pa Mi” remix featuring Sech, Cazzu, Feid, among others.
Seemlessley navigating between genres like hip-hop, R&b, and reggaeton, 20-year-old Lyanno first made a splash in 2015 with this single “Fruto Prohibido,” and has since released singles with Lary Over and Randy, among others
Camilo Echeverry, or just Camilo for short is one of the few artists on this list who has managed to make the transition from behind-the-scenes songwriter to buzzworthy artist in a short time. The singer’s pop-friendly sound compliments the rising wave of Colombian reggaeton, with songwriting credits including Becky G and Natti Natasha’s “Sin Pijama,” and hits of his own like “Desconocidos,” and “No Te Vayas.”
Rombai is a cumbia pop band with members from Uruguay, Colombia, and Bolivia. The band is the brainchild of Uruguayan singer and composer Fer Vázquez – the band’s only remaining original member. Their blending of cumbia and urbano sounds makes them a particularly singular entry among the nominees this year.