12 Latinx Artists Who Had a Major Moment in 2018

Latinx Artists 2018
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Latin music took over 2018!

The hip-shaking genre had incredible growth in the last year, dominating charts, airwaves and news, with artists from all over Latin America breaking through and becoming part of the mainstream. Different from the first Latin explosion in the late '90s, this new wave brought a mix of reggaeton, pop and trap that hadn't been heard before.

Just this year, three Latin artists landed on Spotify's top 10 most-streamed artists list -- J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Ozuna -- compared to 2017 when Daddy Yankee was the only Spanish-speaking artist to reach the top 10. Additionally, the popular streaming service also noted that Dominican-American rapper Cardi B was the third most-streamed female artist of 2018, and Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello was the fifth most-streamed.

Artists' music not only broke barriers, they also proudly represented their Latin heritage through their sound, style and message.

To celebrate another amazing year of Latin music, ET is rounding up 12 artists who have had a major moment in 2018.

1. Maluma

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Easily the heartthrob of 2018, the 24-year-old Colombian crooner captivated audiences with his smoldering good looks and his sultry lyrics. Career-wise, Maluma released his third studio album, F.A.M.E., on May 18 to rave reviews, was named the most-followed male artist on Spotify, and heated up the MTV Video Music Awards with a sizzling performance of "Felices los 4."

This year, he was honored with the Extraordinary Evolution Award at the Latin American Music Awards, where he told ET, "All the things that I'm doing for my career and for young people, I think that that's going to be an incredible award that's going to remind me that hard work, it pays off.”

Another highlight includes winning his very first Latin GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Pop Album. "This seems like a dream. The people who know me, know that I have worked really hard for this. Last year, I was one of the most nominated and I left empty-handed and tonight I have one nomination and I have the GRAMMY in my hand," Maluma emotionally expressed during his acceptance speech.

2. Cardi B

Cardi B AMAs 2018

It's been a whirlwind year for the "Bodak Yellow" rapper, who made the hip-hop scene her own in 2018. She kicked off the year by becoming the first woman to have five top 10 singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, received universal acclaim and landed on the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Drama aside, other accolades include becoming the third most-streamed female artist on Spotify, her song, “I Like It" featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, came in seventh place on the Billboard Hot 100 and her collaboration with Maroon 5, "Girls Like You," was No. 10. She also was the most-nominated artist at the MTV VMAs, taking home three trophies, and is finishing off the year with five GRAMMY nominations, including Album of the Year, making her the third female rapper to be nominated for the category following Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott. The 26-year-old also launched her own clothing collaboration with Fashion Nova, telling ET earlier this year at the launch party, "I hope that people like my collection. I know it’s a little bit different and I know people was not expecting what I was gonna drop."

Last but not least, she also welcomed her first child, daughter Kulture, with now-ex Offset.

3. Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for LARAS

From superstore bagger to king of trap music, the Puerto Rican artist became a household name without even releasing an album. At just 24 years old, Bad Bunny has collaborated with over 30 artists in just two years, including heavy-hitters like Drake, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Will Smith. He gained mass attention in the mainstream when his collaboration with Cardi B and J Balvin, "I Like It," topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the Latin trap star's first No. 1 hit. The single also received a GRAMMY for Record of the Year.

Additional feats include opening the Latin GRAMMYS, performing "Está Rico" with Anthony and Smith, and winning Artist of the Year and Favorite Urban Song for "Mayores" at the Latin American Music Awards. His bilingual single, "Mia," with Drake also earned him a top spot on the Latin Billboard Hot 100.

"It’s an exciting time for Latinos because our culture keeps crossing boundaries," he told ET earlier this year. "It’s cool to see more people embracing our culture.”

4. Camila Cabello

Kevin Mazur/TAS18/Getty Images for TAS

The 21-year-old had an unforgettable year as a solo act following her departure from Fifth Harmony. After releasing her first solo album, Camila, in January, Cabello has been unstoppable. Her LP debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and hit a billion streams in barely a month. On top of that, Cabello's Cuban anthem, "Havana," was the lead single off the album, slaying worldwide charts and receiving major praise from music critics.

She then joined Taylor Swift on her Reputation tour, as well as embarked on her own Never Be the Same tour. Her success was solidified even more when she took home two of the most coveted Moon Person Awards at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards: Artist of the Year and Video of the Year for "Havana." At the American Music Awards, she won four out of her five categories, including New Artist of the Year and received two GRAMMY nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance for "Havana" and Best Pop Vocal Album.

"It's crazy. I have a hard time processing all of it, but I just feel super grateful and I can't believe it. I really can't," she told ET in October about her success.

5. J Balvin

J Balvin
Brad Barket/Getty Images

After a stellar 2017, the 33-year-old Colombian singer only earned more praise and recognition for his art. This year saw the release of his fifth album titled Vibras, as well as landing his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for his collaboration with Cardi B and Bad Bunny, "I Like It" -- which also earned the trio a GRAMMY nomination for Record of the Year. He also performed "Mi Gente" with Beyonce at Coachella (an epic moment for Latinxs everywhere), was named the fourth most-streamed artist on Spotify, and frequently made his rounds on late-night talk shows, a spot where not many Spanish-speaking artists are seen.

As a fashionista himself, 2018 saw Balvin debut as a fashion designer during Fashion Week in Medellin, where he showed his collection with clothing brand Gef France called “Vibras by JBalvin x GEF."

ET spoke with Balvin at the Latin GRAMMYs, where he reflected on all the "blessings" he's received this year.

"I feel grateful. That's the word. Grateful and thankful," Balvin, who won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Album, expressed. "All dreams really come true. I had a lot of dreams this year when we started and we made it happen. And we're going to keep dreaming more and more."

6. Becky G

Becky G
Rich Fury/Getty Images

From performing at Madison Square Garden for the first time, to winning two Latin American Music Awards -- and hosting the ceremony -- to breaking another billion views on YouTube for her sultry single, "Sin Pijama," the 21-year-old performer is on top of the world. Becky has become not only a more confident performer; she's also a strong advocate for young people to find their "self-value," as she told ET earlier this month.

The Mexican-American singer and actress also launched her first makeup collaboration with ColorPop called Salvaje, which sold out in days.

"Looking back, even going back to the 9-year-old Becky and starting off with this dream, of course, you wish for moments like this," the "Mayores" singer told ET in early December. "You pray for moments like this, you dream about moments like this, and then when they come -- even though you prepare for these moments and you envision them so many times -- you're never ready."

7. Ozuna

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The Puerto Rican reggaeton and Latin trap singer cemented himself as one to watch this year. Ozuna was a central part in collaborations like Reik's "Me Niego," Wisin's "Escápate Conmigo" and Natti Natasha's "Criminal," with the latter two hitting No. 3 on the Hot Latin Songs chart. In April, Ozuna and Cardi B took the stage at the Billboard Latin Music Awards to perform their song, "La Modelo," which also earned him attention for his eccentric style. Then there's "Taki Taki," his recent hit with Cardi, Selena Gomez and DJ Snake that debuted at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs. The accompanying music video also became one of the top ten fastest videos to reach 100 million views on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Ozuna received many honors this year, including two Billboard Music Awards for Top Latin Artist and Top Latin Album, as well as three Latin American Music Awards, one of them being Album of the Year. There's no doubt that 2019 will only bring more success to this Boricua.

8. Karol G

Karol G
John Parra/WireImage

Named Best New Artist at the Latin GRAMMYs, this 27-year-old Colombian urban singer has had an unbelievable year. Karol put herself on the map by being unapologetic, uninhibited and slaying the Latin music industry with chart-toppers like “Culpables,” “Mi Cama” and “Pineapple.” Quickly becoming the top female act in her genre, Karol is breaking barriers and knocking down walls for other women in the industry, which is why she was appropriately awarded the Inspira (Inspire) Award at the 31st Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards.

ET spoke with Karol at the Latin GRAMMY Awards, where she gushed about her "amazing year" for not only herself, but other female artists.

"It's a moment. We now have equal opportunities," she expressed, speaking of the wave of female artists taking over the industry. "We were looking so badly for them and now, this year was our opportunity, our big entrance and now we're killing it. We are super strong and there are no men and girls, we are a team doing something big for the Latin industry."

9. Ally Brooke

Ally Brooke 2018 ALMAS
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for The ALMAs

The 25-year-old singer is ready to shatter the glass ceiling with her solo career. After signing with Atlantic Records earlier this year, Brooke has been hard at work on her upcoming, still-untitled debut album.

"In this new experience that I'm being given, I just feel like I'm truly back to who I was," she told ET about creating her own music outside of Fifth Harmony. "Back to the Ally that I want to be, and I'm in a place of such self-discovery. I just kinda imagine me now and the 12-year-old me meeting, and we're hugging and embracing again. I found you."

While 2019 has a lot in store for Brooke, this year she also announced her memoir, titled Finding Your Harmony, performed her collaboration, "Vámonos," at the ALMA Awards, and was part of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

10. Rosalía

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If there is one breakout artist of the year, it's definitely Rosalía. The 25-year-old Spanish songstress caught the industry's attention with her modern take on flamenco, folk and art pop. Her lead single, "Malamente," from her second studio album, El Mal Querer, received a double platinum certification and universal praise from critics.

This year, she was the most-nominated female at the Latin GRAMMYs, receiving five nods for her hit single, and taking home two trophies for Best Urban Fusion/Performance and Best Alternative Song.

"I feel so grateful because I am doing the music that I feel comfortable doing. I know my music has risks. So if it connects with people, which I think is happening, I feel very grateful," she told ET in November. "As a songwriter, as a producer, not just as a musician, not just as an artist who goes on stage and sings, I feel proud. I feel happy," she added about being one of many women taking over Latin music. "This is something to celebrate, not just me, a lot of female artists, we are having visibility and a moment."

11. Luis Fonsi

Luis Fonsi

Hot off the success of "Despacito," 2018 only recharged Fonsi's presence in the Latin music scene. After performing his hit song at the GRAMMY Awards in February, the Puerto Rican singer only continued to get people moving with singles like "Calypso," "Imposible" and "Sigamos Bailando." This year, Fonsi worked hard to give back to his native country following Hurricane Maria, he concluded his Love + Dance World Tour and joined Telemundo's La Voz, which premieres Jan. 13.

Expect plenty more from Fonsi in 2019, including a new album. "2019 is going to be a beautiful year,” Fonsi told ET exclusively last month. "I haven't released an album in four years, so it's like going back to school after being out of school for a long time.”

The 40-year-old singer says it brings him great pleasure to “actually have a full album, to be able to actually share a lot of these songs that I've been working on for the last three years.”

12. Daddy Yankee

Daddy Yankee
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Spotify

The Puerto Rican reggaetonero delivered infectious new tracks this year, including "Made for Now," a collaboration with Janet Jackson that went on to top the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart. At the Latin American Music Awards, he was honored with the Icon Award and won the Favorite Male Artist award.

He won eight Billboard Latin Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, the Best Latin Artist trophy at the American Music Awards and took home the Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Song for "Dura."

ET spoke with Yankee ahead of the Latin AMAs, where he reflected on his career and discussed why his fans connect with his sound.

"I think one of the things that people connect with DY is that I'm natural," he explained. "So I'm just gonna live in the moment, and everything I got in my heart, I will express it in that moment."

Get more Latinx news on ET MÁS, ETonline's new section featuring the latest celeb, film, TV, music and style news.


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