As a Mexican, I, admittedly, haven't always played many corridos when I've had the aux. But, recently, this style of music that has at times been in the background of my life has made its way to my playlists through songs by artists like Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado. In their Grammy-nominated collaboration, “Ella Baila Sola,” a sierreño song, they mix classic Mexican regional staccato horns and guitar chords with contemporary lyrics and vocal delivery, and I — like millions of others — have found myself irresistibly replaying it. But these aren't the only artists drawing inspiration from Latine music's past to make modern-day hits.
From the re-emergence of regional Mexican music to the Black and Indigenous rising stars who are rescuing Caribbean rhythms and folk styles, respectively, and blending them into their art, it seems as if remixing abuelita’s vinyls is the recipe for Latine music hits. Here, we highlight both emerging Latine artists and chart-toppers who are launching a musical renaissance by bringing the sounds and styles of older Latine genres, from 1960s salsa and '70s cumbia to '80s freestyle and '90s reggaeton, and making it their own.
Through the fusion of Andean music and trap, Peruvian Renata Flores is reclaiming her homeland music and advocating for its resurgence. Born in the small province of Huamanga in the northern part of the Ayacucho region, Flores owes much of her musical inspiration to her great tías who performed in the '70s Ayacuchan folklore duo Las Bellas de Huamanga. She also learned a thing or two from her rockero parents, who introduced her to Uchpa, a Quechua-singing Peruvian hard rock and blues band, at a young age.
Flores tells Refinery29 Somos that despite the pushback she has received for fusing, for example, el huayno — a traditional genre and dance with Peruvian Andean roots — with reggaeton, she believes that future generations need this fusion to keep traditions alive. “It’s cool to do this type of fusion. On the one hand, we’re preserving [our traditions]. And on the other, we’re using these genres that are part of us and giving them a new perspective,” she boasts. In her latest single, “Akakaw,” which means “que quema” (or “what burns”), she teams up with the timeless Los Mirlos to give us an updated selvatica cumbiasón.
Among the highest-charting artists to reclaim music from the past is Peso Pluma. His prowess in fusing typical corridos mexicanos with elements of Latine urbano and hip-hop has made him one of the most popular artists out of Latin America. His melodic storytelling ballads in his most recent album, Génesis, which includes notable tracks like “Rosa Pastel,” “Las Morras,” and “PRC,” all of which have more than 100 million streams on Spotify alone, contribute to the revival of regional Mexican music.
Peso Pluma, who was born in Guadalajara and grew up listening to corridos sinaloenses, cites artists like the late star Ariel Camacho and Los Alegres del Barranco as big musical influences. Earlier this summer, he told Somos he plans to remain true to his Mexican roots although he loves experimenting with other genres.
Reggaeton may be slipping in the charts, but Rauw Alejandro reminds us why the genre stays atop Latine listeners' playlists. In Saturno, Alejandro pays homage to Nuyorican freestyle music from the '80s and ‘90s, a genre he grew up listening to because of his parents, mixing synth pop with old-school reggaeton and delivering tracks like the TikTok viral “Punto 40,” a fresh take on Baby Rasta & Gringo’s 1998 track “Tengo Una Punto 40.” The nostalgic collection also includes “Más De Una Vez,” which samples Susana Estrada’s 1980 pop single “Gozame Ya,” and hometown anthem, “De Carolina,” produced by the iconic mixtape sound engineer DJ Playero. It is Alejandro's innovative approach to pop reggaeton that keeps us dancing and perreando to his nostalgic, yet futuristic tunes. In his sequel album, Playa Saturno, we hear some of the same ‘80s freestyle crossover to some of his songs, including his leading single, “Si Te Pegas,” with none other than Miguel Bosé.
Fellow Puerto Rican artist RaiNao is reinterpreting traditional Latine genres, too. Her cover of Victor Manuelle’s salsa classic “He Tratado” placed her on the map and taught her that music can evolve even as she experiments with elements like rumba, bomba, plena, timba, and her biggest love, reggaeton. Inspired by music legends like Rubén Blades, Omara Portuondo, Cultura Profética, Viento de Agua, Héctor El Father, Vico C, and her own father, a vocalist for many popular salsa bands, RaiNao is now fusing alt-perreo with electronic and rock, and incorporating instruments like the saxophone, which she took up in middle school. "Everything has already been done," she told Somos, and it’s up to artists, like her, to share their unique perspectives and expand on the sounds that have already culturally marked us.
At the intersection of Mexican and Caribbean cultures is the budding artist Immasoul who is creating Spanish-language R&B music that borrows from Latine idols like Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Los Panchos, José José, Juan Gabriel, Luis Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade. Immasoul tells Somos that replicating R&B sounds in Spanish is difficult (the way the genre unfolds in Spanish is different than in English), but artists like Sin Bandera, who successfully incorporated R&B elements into their music, were a big inspiration. In her latest EP, Amores Pasajeros, Immasoul digs into other genres like dembow with tracks like "Florecer" and "Belize," the latter a tribute to the neighboring island that borders her hometown Chetumal, Quintana Roo. Although Immasoul is proud to be part of the Afro-descendant representation in today’s Latin American pop music, she questions the global Latin American identity, which she claims already does not encompass all of the racial, ethnic, and cultural groups that make up Latin America.
Another big star adding her own style to regional Mexican music is Àngela Aguilar, whose dynasty family includes her father, Pepe Aguilar, and grandparents, Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre. Despite Aguilar being modest and telling Somos that she loves to sing mariachi and wear traditional Mexican atuendo, her contribution to regional Mexican music is far greater than “a granito de arena.” The Grammy Award-nominated artist first made headway into the genre in 2018 with her debut solo album, Primero Soy Mexicana, an 11-track project with well-known ranchera songs formerly performed by renowned artists like Lucha Villa and her late grandmother, Silvestre.
This year, at just 19 years old, Aguilar embarked on her Piensa En Mi tour and has been having fun with her latest collaboration with Steve Aoki and Deorro in “Invitame Un Café,” which samples Rocío Dúrcal’s “La Gata Bajo La Lluvia.” Still, her love for boleros is strong. The subgenre is her favorite way of saying, “I love you.”