September 30, 2023

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Damian & More Emerging Artists (June 2023) – Billboard

6 min read

Every month, Billboard Latin and Billboard Español editors feature a small group of new, or relatively unknown, artists whose music we love. Think “diamantes en bruto,” or “diamonds in the rough.” These are newcomers who have yet to impact the mainstream — but whose music excites us, and who we believe our readers should make a point to discover.



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See latest videos, charts and news

Our latest edition of On the Radar Latin includes a half-dozen emerging artists, who we might’ve found anywhere from a Spotify playlist to a music showcase. See our recommendations below.

Artist: Damian

Country: Colombia

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: I saw Damian live for the first time last year during a “Noche Vallenata” night at a local restaurant in Miami, where he always performs. Navigating all the vallenato, salsa, and merengue classics, the Colombian artist’s stage presence, accompanied by his live band, set the vibe for a high-energetic fiesta. His sweet vocal ranges bring to life all Colombian Caribbean flavors by fusing cumbia, reggae, champeta, and vallenato. Earlier this year, the Barranquilla-born artist released “El Amor No Es Amor,” the first single from his upcoming studio album. If this single is any indication, his music is not only feel-good but a reflection of a grateful lifestyle. — INGRID FAJARDO

Song For Your Playlist: “El Amor No Es Amor”

Artist: Joaquina

Country: Venezuela

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Exactly a year ago, singer/songwriter Joaquina was part of the first “graduating” class at producer Julio Reyes Copello’s Art House Academy. Last week, the Venezuelan-born, Miami-raised 18-year-old opened Fonseca’s arena show at Kaseya Center in Miami. Many eyes are on Joaquina, who writes her own material and talks about teenage angst in her indie pop/rock in Spanish. With an assertive on-stage presence, 275,000 Instagram followers, and at least three singles that have over one million streams each on Spotify, Joaquina already snagged a recording deal with Universal Music Latin. — LEILA COBO

Song For Your Playlist: “Los Mejores Años”

Artist: Juan Wauters 

Country: Uruguay  

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Juan Wauters has a modest way of making three-minute joyous folk ditties that observe the simple beauties of existence. That’s what the bilingual album of Wandering Rebel is, a free-spirited journey with a huge South American heart, which he released on June 2. Propelled by acoustic guitar strumming, the song “Milanesa al Pan,” featuring Córdoba singer Zoe Gotusso, is a kitsch romantic duet about enjoying an Argentinian sandwich together. Portland-based Y La Bamba’s voice never sounded sweeter than as a guest in “Nube Negra,” where listeners hear the Queens, New York-based, Uruguay-born singer dreaming of sweeping the black clouds in his mind away. His 12-track album is a dolce, melancholic jaunt with idiosyncratic moments that might too inspire one to reflect on the ordinary pleasures of life. — ISABELA RAYGOZA

Song For Your Playlist: “Nube Negra” feat. Y La Bamba  

Artist: Kendar

Country: The Dominican Republic

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Kendar caught my attention at a showcase I attended earlier this month. Off the bat, he’s a young-but-old-souled Dominican artist, whose stage presence and potent vocal range ooze passion and maturity. As he grows his social media following, Kendar has stepped into the spotlight with his romantic pop covers, including Ricardo Arjona’s “Hongos,” Sebastian Yatra’s “Como Mirarte,” and Vicente García’s “Dulcito e Coco,” to name a few. The jazz-infused salsa “Se Llevó Mi Alma” is his first original single, which you can enjoy below: — JESSICA ROIZ

Song For Your Playlist: “Se Llevó Mi Alma”

Artist: Lion Dr

Country: The Dominican Republic

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Puerto Rico has Jay Wheeler, but over in The Dominican Republic, they have their very own “romantic voice” dubbed Lion Dr. His debut single arrived in 2021 called “La Nena,” a sultry trap song, followed by his infectious reggaetón single “La Nave” in 2022. But the aspiring artist didn’t stop there: He then brought his somewhat sugary, raspy vocals and flirtatious lyrics to a five-track EP called En Un Viaje, where he delivers some soulful acoustic and R&B tracks as well. — J.R.

Song For Your Playlist: “La Nave”

Artist: Lowis Ye

Country: The Dominican Republic

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: With his purple dreadlocks-meet-fade haircut, laidback fashion style, and charming personality, Lowis Ye is bringing a fresh personality to the Latin music industry. The up-and-coming artist got on my radar after he personally introduced himself to me after a Billboard Mujeres panel at the 2023 Premios Heat conferences this month. His voice later captivated me on the award show’s red carpet, where he sang to me in a cappella. Lowis, like Kendar, Lion DR, and Scarlet Evan, are winners of the La Nueva Cepa initiative, which discovers and develops emerging artists across Latin America. With singles such as “Tu Carita,” “KDAV,” and “Un Rato,” Lowis delivers feel-good Afrobeats and urban-pop fusions backed by sweet love lyrics. — J.R.

Song For Your Playlist: “Un Rato”

Artist: Scarlet Evang

Country: The Dominican Republic

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: While many rising Dominican female artists, such as Tokischa and Yailin La Mas Viral, are dropping dembow or bachata bangers, Scarlet Evan is opting for an R&B vibe. The newcomer, who was a promising contestant on The Voice Domincana, will lure you in with her soulful and powerful vocals and elegant aura. In her latest single, “Game Over,” her musical qualities shine in a bilingual track where she chants about discovering her self-worth and moving away from a failed relationship. — J.R.

Song For Your Playlist: “Game Over”

Artist: YADAM

Country: Venezuela

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: There are countless emails that come through my inbox suggesting I should “listen to artist’s new song now,” and while it’s hard to actually listen to ALL that come through, I’m happy I clicked on YADAM’s new song “Beso.” Part of the Venezuelan singer-songwriter’s new EP titled after its focus track, “Beso” is a palate-cleanser with its energetic 80s-inspired vibe where he sings about taking control over his strong emotions ignited by a beso (kiss). Add “Beso” to your playlist but also check out the EP’s other songs, which he’d previously released, such as “Ojalá,” a stripped-down ballad, and the pop, flamenco-tinged “Otras Mujeres,” to really appreciate the artist’s versatility and his ability to blend styles. Up next? The Paris-based artist is set to release his debut album in September. — GRISELDA FLORES

Song For Your Playlist: “Beso”

Artist: Yeisy Rojas

Country: Cuba

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Yeisy Rojas came onto my radar just a few weeks ago, when she introduced herself in an Instagram DM ahead of the release of her song “Mama Ines” — the first single of her upcoming debut album, produced by Gastón Joya (Chucho Valdés’ former bass player) and featuring Julito Padrón. A jazz violinist, singer and composer classically trained in her native Cuba, Rojas played with the National Opera orchestra in Havana before moving to Norway in 2016 to get her master’s degree in jazz violin. Now, as a newcomer performer, she beautifully blends Cuban music, Latin jazz, and some funk while speaking up against racism in her country.

“My message is specifically for my land Cuba, where I hope there will be more equality and rights for our Afro community,” she wrote me about “Mama Ines,” in which Rojas musicalizes a poem from 1930 by the late Nicolás Guillén that is still relevant today: “Ayer Me Dijeron Negro” (“Yesterday I was called a negro”). I am looking forward to hearing the rest of her songs. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS

Song For Your Playlist: “Mama Ines” feat. Julito Padrón

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