Music in Spanish has always had a very distinctive sound, at first being more oriented to tropical beats and romantic lyrics and later on turning into something sexier with the rise of Reggaetón and Latin Urban. This way, Latin and Central America and the Caribbean have enjoyed the music that was and still is an enormous part of the culture, mostly imported from Puerto Rico but without missing the opportunity of each country contributing its part to create truly diverse art. However, the rest of the world was never able to avoid music in Spanish, and the clearest example is probably Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina,” which introduced its genre to places like North America, Europe and even Japan where it reached the platinum status with more than 100,000 sales.
While the world was too busy paying attention to these sounds, new genres and subgenres started being heard in the streets, including Latin Trap. If we look at the charts today, Becky G’s “Mayores” and Farruko’s “Krippy Kush” are both placed as two of the 100 most popular songs of the week in the United States according to Billboard. A-List musicians like Nicki Minaj, Quavo and Cardi B have chosen to either put their voices to remix songs of the genre or bring those artists into their own singles. These facts are living proof that Latin Trap is not just being heard by Latinos, but instead, it is catching everyone’s attention. So how exactly did it happen?
Contrary to what many might believe, this success did not happen overnight. “When I first started doing Trap in 2005, 2006, people thought I was crazy,” said De La Ghetto for Billboard. “[They would say] the people want more Latin music, more tropical.”
Every artist who is now earning recognition for this kind of songs seems to credit Messiah for his influence on the rise of Latin Trap. “For a long time, Trap was an idea, something underground. Now it’s what we’ve always wanted, to be recognized as what we are, a genre,” said the Dominican artist who has been featured in the remix of Cardi B’s No. 1 hit “Bodak Yellow.”
Although it is hard to pinpoint which were the first hits to be categorized as Latin Trap and succeed, “La Ocasión” by De La Ghetto, Arcángel, Ozuna and Anuel AA was huge everywhere and had an incredible reception last year. It can still be heard in clubs and parties all over South America. These artists and the likes of Farruko, Noriel, J Balvin and probably the biggest star of the genre, Bad Bunny, are currently working to make the sound blow up and get the recognition it deserves.
Even when these songs are making huge numbers in streaming and sales, not everyone is happy with their popularity. The vocalist from Calle 13, Residente, fired shots at the genres and at the music nowadays at a Billboard Latin Music Conference saying it is repetitive and easy to make, comparing it to “making a sandwich.” This outraged fans and musicians and many took social media to give their response, like DJ Nelson who recorded a video for Instagram and explained to him why he was wrong and Nicky Jam who commented on the post claiming Residente was a hypocrite.
So, what does Latin Trap need to be taken to the next level? First, I personally believe that we need more women in the genre. Becky G, Karol G, Natti Natasha, Cazzu and others have proven that they have what it takes to triumph in this male-dominated industry and therefore new types of voices and perspectives would be perfect. Also, it needs more radio airplay to go even higher on the lists. This is a more complicated matter, as it does not really depend on artists themselves. Victor Martinez, President of Hispanic Broadcasting Radio told Rolling Stone, “Radio has the doors open for [Latin trap] to come right in, they just have to help us out. The problem from my side is they don’t put out clean versions.” This is a request that makes a lot of sense, but it can also be difficult to make clean versions of songs that have so many bad words in its lyrics.
Without a doubt, 2017 has been the year of Latin Trap. This might have anything to do with the fact that Hip-Hop became the most popular genre in the United States this year, as well, maybe more people all over the world are learning how to appreciate the productions and the lyrics that they bring to the table. I am definitely confident that it will evolve in many years to come and it has not reached its peak. As a Latino myself, I am proud to see my culture get to new places and I believe in the talent of the people behind the genre, so we can only hope that 2018 is filled with more great music of the sort.