Producers and DJs with roots in Latin America are keeping music interesting. Two of this year’s biggest dance albums, Beyoncé’s Renaissance and Drake’s Honestly, nevermindhad input from Latino producers.
Our list last year featured the likes of Víctor Cárdenas, who helped popularize the Colombian guaracha genre with his work on Farruko’s “Pepas,” and Caleb Calloway, who is guiding artists like Rauw Alejandro and Bad Bunny in embracing elements of electronica with their music. There’s also Dominican producer Diego Raposo, who is blending elements of music from the Caribbean with dance beats. Now Argentine producer Bizarrap has crossed over into dance music with the global hit “BZRP Music Sessions #52.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month 2022, happening from September 15 to October 15, Billboard Dance is saluting 10 Latin producers, both up-and-comers and more established veterans, who are putting a new spring in dance music’s step.
Argentina’s Bizarrap launched his BZRP Music Sessions in 2018. The YouTube videos initially started out as freestyle sessions with local artists rapping over hip-hop and trap beats. There’s always been a current of electronica in his sessions, especially in the frenetic “BZRP Music Sessions #36” with Nathy Peluso and sassy “Session #39” with Snow Tha Product. The house beats have been more pronounced in Bizarrap’s recent sessions, like the fierce “Session #51” alongside Villano Antillano and his breakthrough hit “Session #52” with Quevedo. The traptronica banger is currently sitting at No. 6 Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and at No. 2 on Billboard Global Excl. US chart.
Nearly half of Drake’s Honestly, nevermind album was co-produced by GORDO. For his first major foray into house music, Drake worked closely with the Nicaraguan-Dominican producer, who first appeared in the electronic music scene as DJ Carnage in 2012. He spun sets at festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Ultra Music, while producing G -Eazy’s “Loaded” and iLoveMakonnen’s “I Like Tuh,” before transitioning to the house music project of his current artist name this past spring. Now as GORDO, he’s masterfully blended trap beats with electronica in Drake’s “Sticky” and in the bed-springing “Currents.” Under GORDO’s guidance, Drake’s atmospheric sound was also given a house music makeover in the chic “Massive” and dreamy “Tie That Binds.” (The former track peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, with Honestly, nevermind also sending GORDO to No. 1 on the Hot 100 Producers chart.) GORDO is now working on his next album, Pope Gordo II.
Kelman Duran had a hand in one of the fan favorite tracks on Beyoncé’s Renaissance, via the dembow riddim embedded in “I’m That Girl.” Releasing his first album 1804 Kids back in 2017, the Dominican producer created a unique blend of atmospheric dance music that was infused with reggaetón samples and beats. Years later, after sending over music he was cooking up, Duran found out from Beyoncé’s team that his work was incorporated into “I’m That Girl,” for which Duran reworked a sample of Tommy Wright III and Princess Loko’s “Still Pimpin” with an alluring glow and reggaetón bounce. Beyoncé’s dembow detour on Renaissance peaked at No. 26 on the Hot 100 in August.
Mr. Pig celebrated Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16 with the release of his new single “Bam Bae.” For nearly a decade, the Mexico City-based producer and DJ has proudly represented his country at festivals like Beyond Wonderland and Tomorrowland. One of Mr. Pig’s most notable releases is 2017’s pulsating “No Estás Aquí,” where he teamed up with Mexican electro-pop trio Belanova. In 2020, he extended his international reach in “Blue Dreams” featuring fellow Mexican DJ Bzars and Israeli singer Sapir Amar, with their electro-house banger crossing over 30 million streams on Spotify. Mr. Pig is continuing to build on that momentum with “Bam Bae,” where he blends Latin percussion with the glowing house music beats that have made his songs so captivating. The song is the first single from Mr. Pig’s upcoming EP.
Coco & Breezy
Coco & Breezy is comprised of twin sisters Corianna and Brianna Dotson. The Puerto Rican entrepreneurs have expanded their famous Coco and Breezy Eyewear brand into a stylish lifestyle, down to the music they spin together as DJs. Coco & Breezy have spun sets as festivals like Coachella and EDC Las Vegas, breaking through as producers in 2020 when they teamed up with Dawn Richard, who has become a star in the dance world. Their collaborative feel-good club banger “U” has amassed nearly five million streams on Spotify. Throughout their work, Coco & Breezy blend house music with elements of R&B and pop that reflect their Afro-Latina roots. They’re continuing to explore new sounds in their latest single “Just Say,” with an Afrobeats influence that underscores singer Tara Carosielli’s sultry vocals.
Martox is known for putting an alternative spin on music from the Caribbean. The Dominican duo, comprised of Juan Martínez and Eduardo Baldera, first released music together in 2019, initially putting out work in the R&B/pop realms. Last year, the duo started experimenting with electronic music in their debut EP If Feeling Different. (The title translates to “It Feels Different,” because they blended house beats into the tropical “Diferente.”) The duo also went downright disco in the pulsating “Pausa” alongside Gian Rojas, the frontman of Dominican band Solo Fernández. Both songs have amassed over 334,000 streams on Spotify. This year, Martox teamed up with Dominican producer Lash for the heartfelt dance track “Sensaciones.” As evidenced by their funky new single “Entre El Futuro Y El Pasado,” they’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of electronica.
Ryoker is an emerging DJ and producer from Bogotá’s dance music scene. In 2020, the Colombian artist participated in the 100 Latin Producers project spearheaded by Broz Rodriguez and Sinego. A year later, Ryoker scored his biggest song yet with “Bésame Así,” where he blended Latin percussion with house music beats. The irresistible track also featured sultry vocals from singer Nia Ocean, who has roots in Colombia and Cuba. Ryoker continued to give house music a seductive Latin touch in “Ámame (Siénteme)” alongside Danonthebeat. Both songs have amassed over 100 million combined streams on Spotify. This year, Ryoker teamed up with Boston-based singer Elae Weekes for the bass-heavy “I See You,” proving that his sound is going international.
LITTLEROK is the co-founder of Miami’s Tumbao dance parties, where he and his friends spin music from across the African diaspora. In the Colombian-American DJ’s set, the music can jump from reggaeton courtesy of Karol G and Feid to neo-perreo by Ms Nina and La Goony Chonga, with Dominican dembow from Haraca Kiko and Afrobeats by Rema also in the mix. As a publicist for Universal Music Latin and Feid, LITTLEROK is also using his DJ ear as an A&R. He recently enlisted Armand Van Helden, Benny Benassi, Good Times Ahead, Henry Fong, and Nick León to remix Feid’s deep house banger “Nieve,” with the remix EP set to drop on Sept. 30. LITTLEROK will celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tumbao in Miami on Sept. 24 followed by a special LA edition on Oct. 8.