If any critics thought reggaetón might have potentially peaked last year when Bad Bunny became Spotify’s most streamed artist in the world for a second straight year, 2022 showed them how far from the truth they were. Not only did Benito do a hat trick by three-peating Spotify’s achievement, but he also became Apple Music’s Artist of the Year, among other accolades. His album, Un Verano Sin Ti, is the reason for all the acclaim and one listen is enough to understand why. But as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and many reggaetón and Latine trap artists also felt the surge.
The music continues full-steam ahead, adding new names to its increasing roster from all over Latin America, including some necessary female and queer voices that have transformed it into one of, if not the most, inclusive genres around. Far from looking like it has plateaued, this year gave undeniable proof that reggaetón is still cresting and expanding further into pop culture and the zeitgeist. Producers have continued to experiment, meshing their beats with rhythms from all over, continuing the evolution of bridging sounds that brought us reggaetón to begin with.
For a look at some of 2022’s best and most diverse offerings in reggaetón and Latine trap, here is our list.
— Juan J. Arroyo
Isabella Lovestory – “Cherry Bomb”
No one can release a perreo banger to unleash your nastiest inner bad bitch quite like Isabella Lovestory. And with “Cherry Bomb,” she moans sex appeal. Filled with Instagram caption-ready lyrics and a self-indulgent synthy, dembow beat, this lavish ode to cunnilingus shows Isabella’s prowess as an all-around entertainer. With Amor Hardcore as a whole and “Cherry Bomb,” we were introduced to a star, a diva, a popstar, one that will soundtrack our most lascivious moments for years to come. – Alexis Hodoyán-Gastélum
Eladio Carrión, YOVNGCHIMI & Hydro – “HELLCAT”
2022 saw many reggaeton and trap en español artists reach the top of the charts, leaving behind hard bars and grimy instrumentals for poppy hooks. But Eladio Carrión was not one of these artists. Although he has proven repeatedly to be capable of bodying a crossover track — and well could ascend to the pop stratosphere with the right song — he’s also able to turn around and deliver street anthems like “HELLCAT.” The key to his talent remains his old-school lyricism, devil-may-care attitude, and loads of charisma, something that feeds into YOVNGCHIMI’s turn at the mic, melding into wordsmith bad boy synergy gold. Landing hard on top of a Hydro beat, “HELLCAT” hit like a modernized version of trap that could well lead a barrio revolution. — Marcos Hassan
RaiNao, Villano Antillano – “Un Amarre”
Puerto Rican singer and rapper Naomi Ramírez blasted the music world doors open in Feb. this year. From releasing ahora A.K.A. NAO, her debut EP under her RaiNao moniker, and her joint adventure with fellow Boricua artist Villano Antillano “Un Amarre,” she left some deep nail marks in this year’s rap landscape. With their own distinctive, outstanding styles, RaiNao y la Villana set this jam on fire with a brujería they naturally cast with their bodies, strength, and confidence. The menacing hip-hop beat that intermittently slips into a slowed-down dembow moment powers up the lyrics, and the message is clear: surrender to these two women, because they’re here to take it all. – Cheky
Becky G, Karol G – “MAMIII”
When two empowering top-tier Latinas join forces, magic happens. As cliché as it sounds, it was proven this year with Becky G and Karol G’s highly-anticipated collaboration “MAMIII,” which ultimately slayed the music charts. Something about the duo’s sorrowful vocals, acoustic guitar, and grito intro set the precise IDGAF mood up for the unfiltered diss track. Whatsmore, they gave a shout-out to the ultimate male-disser Paquita la del Barrio, which only made the collab more buzz-worthy. It’s also worth mentioning that the single aligned with Karol’s monumental Coachella set, which overall makes it one of 2022’s most memorable moments in Latine music. – Jeanette Hernandez
Goyo – “Na Na Na”
Gloria “Goyo” Martínez stepped away from ChocQuibTown momentarily to spread her wings with her debut album En Letra De Otro. The Colombian rapper and singer covered classic songs across different genre while centering and celebrating her Afro-Colombian roots. At the heart of the LP was Goyo’s original song “Na Na Na.” She mixed reggaeton beats with the tropical sounds of her native Chocó. Goyo sang about moving on from a relationship that was no longer good for her. With a resounding “Na,” she cut down the guy’s chances of getting back into her life. With her sharp lyrics, Goyo also proudly compared herself to a black panther. She roared in this fierce kiss-off anthem. – Lucas Villa
Bellakath – “Gatita”
Whether intentionally adding it to your party playlists or catching the infectious melody scrolling through TikTok, chances are you’ve heard this bop in some form since its official release early fall. From law school graduate to influencer, Bellakath seems to have found her ultimate calling with the success of her standout single “Gatita.” Proving you don’t always need a lengthy career behind you to be one of the year’s biggest superstars, Bellakath couldn’t get enough as fans propelled the single’s virality to the top of the charts of social trending sounds and Spotify’s hottest hits, soundtracked a new trend of kittychelas, and almost instantaneously became one of this years most anticipated performances of Mexico’s renowned reggaeton festival Flow Fest. The song is simply intoxicating — from the mimicked marimba beats to the catchy repeated chorus that ensures “una gatita que le gusta el mambo” will never leave your mind. Simply, this hit provides minutes of pure perreo-hasta-abajo, autoestima-hasta-arriba bliss. – Jeanette Diaz
Rauw Alejandro, Baby Rasta – “PUNTO 40”
When ambitious artists sample OG hits, it’s often hard to get them right, but Rauw Alejandro’s “PUNTO 40” with Baby Rasta hit it out of the ballpark. The new cover fleshed away the original hip-hop-driven elements and converted it to a synth-heavy futuristic explosion of sensual reggaeton, all while featuring Baby Rasta’s distinctive high-pitched vocals and Rauw’s flirtatious new wave of reggaeton flow together. The bass-enriched track was significantly ingrained to Rauw this year – not only did it help introduce his new cyber punk, bad boy, futuristic Saturno era, but it also proved the meteoric hold he has on social media, where the song’s TikTok viral dance challenge currently has more than 629.2 million views. – Jeanette Hernandez
Young Miko – “Riri”
The undisputed stand out from Young Miko’s excellent debut LP TRAP KITTY, “Riri,” was an inescapable club anthem that stoked our thirst for freshly popped bottles with hypnotic bass lines and cheeky boasts of raunchy exploits. The meteoric Puerto Rican trap star had a banner year that included multiple collabs with Villano Antillano and joining Bad Bunny on stage during this summer’s string of extremely sold-out Choliseo shows. But it was “Riri,” with its grimy yet undeniable beat and relatable decoding of Instagram captions and strategic emoji placements, that truly went viral on the dance floor and in our hearts. The song’s PuffPuffPass-directed music video was the cherry on top, featuring Miko at the center of decadent party bus shenanigans, surrounded by Borinquen’s baddest bebesitas, and solidifying her as trap en español’s sexiest new star. – Richard Villegas
Bad Bunny, Chencho Corleone – “Me Porto Bonito”
Bad Bunny released the album of the year with Un Verano Sin Ti. The LP’s perreo-de-résistance moment was “Me Porto Bonito,” his collaboration with ex-Plan B member Chencho Corleone. Reggaeton’s past and future collided in the freaky club banger. Chencho’s alluring vocals recalled classic perreo while Bad Bunny’s playful swagger brought it back to modern day. In under three minutes, Bad Bunny sweet-talked the woman of his dreams while making a slick nod to women’s reproductive rights. “If you want me to, I’ll make you a baby or bring you the plan B,” he sang in Spanish. Let’s not forget that he also evoked Mexican telenovela band RBD. Bad Bunny did it all without breaking a sweat. – Lucas Villa
Villano Antillano – Bzrp Music Sessions #51”
It was the freestyle heard ’round the world: Bad Bunny might’ve gotten all the awards, but I dare you to find any artist who was as much in their zone as Villano Antillano during her Bzrap Music Sessions debut. She’d already proved her mettle with previous singles and collabs, so her rapping prowess was no secret. But here, she snaps like some seasoned pros can only dream of doing. It’s a blinding performance that struck an instant chord with fans and allowed her to let loose, annihilating doubters all while flashing coquettish glances at the camera, like someone who knows she just became this year’s hottest bonafide sensation. — Juan J. Arroyo