2020’s Best Turn Up Tracks

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

Reggaeton, dembow and Latin trap and hip-hop are perhaps the most saturated genres in the Latin music industry, and this year was no different. But quantity doesn’t always mean quality. This year, it was great to see artists experiment, collaborate, and find/come into their own. From Bad Bunny to DaniLeigh & more, here’s our top 10:

Bad Bunny, Jowell & Randy, Ñengo Flow – “Safaera”

“Safaera” is a nearly five-minute display of Tainy and DJ Orma’s glorious technical skills; almost a display of cockiness. It’s a track full of innovation with high-level production techniques, beat changes, tributes to ‘90s reggaetón, samples, and infectious hooks that summarize the extraordinary form of everyone involved—including the backbones of the song, Jowell y Randy and Ñengo Flow. It’s very unusual to find a composition with a style that works within the pop discourse that drives an album like YHLQMDLG. 2020, besides being the year of Bad Bunny, is the year of “Safaera.” —Diego Urdaneta

Sech ft. Daddy Yankee, Farruko, J Balvin & Rosalía – “Relación”

There are folks whose talent is simply exigent of our attention no matter how crowded the space—Sech is of that rare breed. In 2020, he was the most coveted reggaetonero to work with, raking in clutch collabs with Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny and more. Though symbiotic in essence, it’s clear that Sech is a particularly relished pennant in this corner of the industry. His typical suave, honeyed nature paired with bullish lyrics is beautifully exhibited on this comeback track, co-produced by fellow panameños Slow Mike and Dimelo Flow. This remix was the best of the year, with each artist holding their own, stylistically. One helluva affirmation for the future of Panama’s place in the movement. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

Chucky73 ft. Ñengo Flow – “Palos”

2020 saw a widening divide between Latinx trap artists chasing dembow crossover gold and emcees doubling down on keeping it real. This situation left a void that the Bronx Sie7eTr3 collective filled with a sound that was fresh, fun and gritty. At the front was the charismatic Chucky73 who gave us one of the definitive anthems of the barrio, reaffirming his style and his commitment to his essence over a NY drill beat. Latin Trap godfather Ñengo Flow blessed “Palos” to reaffirm one of the most important sounds of the year and a promise of so much more to come. —Marcos Hassan

Jhay Cortez, Anuel AA, J Balvin – “Medusa”

While reggaeton continues to gain more worldwide popularity by the minute, perhaps filling a gap left by American pop-R&B, longtime fans of the genre can sometimes be left wondering, “when did everything get so… soft?” Enter “Medusa,” a certified trap club banger for the streets. Led by up-and-comer Jhay Cortez and certified trap god Anuel AA, a menacing beat dominates. You won’t hear much singing on this track—not even when J Balvin slides on the scene, “directo de Medellín,” delivering one of his most fire-y verses of the year. —Dave Acosta

Tokischa, Yomel El Meloso – “Desacato Escolar”

So much of the energy of “Desacato Escolar” is driven by Tokischa’s thundering command as she spits out verses faster than a machine gun. The chugging beat is laced with her own vocal loops, which sound like chopped up moans that emphasize her free, unapologetic approach to sexuality, something she’s never been shy about centering in her music. She gives Yomel el Meloso plenty to bounce off of as he joins her in the second verse of the track. Together, they create a relentlessly upbeat dembow moment that you can’t help but replay over and over again. —Julyssa Lopez

Anitta, Cardi B, Myke Towers – “Me Gusta”

It’s been five years since Anitta started pursuing her dream of breaking into the US music industry. She is a step closer to her goal after the release of “Me Gusta.” With the help of Rafa Dias, the mastermind of ATTOOXXA—one of the hottest music acts from the Brazilian state of Bahia—Anitta plays around with Spanish and Portuguese over a lean, but catchy pagodão beat. The tandem made by La Caldi’s flow and the sweet voice of Myke Towers finish the job of making a radio hit candidate from the tip of Alaska to the Ushuaia. — Felipe Maia

Kyan – “Menor Magrinho” (Prod. Mu540)

The late North-American composer Scott Bradley might have never thought that his mid-century score for Tom & Jerry would assume an evolved form as a blend of baile funk, drill and grime in 2020’s Brazil. That’s on account of DJ and producer Musão (aka Mu540) and rising fire-spitter MC Kyan. They revisited the 2014 baile funk track “Pam pam pam,” by Menor Magrinho, with the help of sliding 808 kicks and crunchy duos of hi-hats and snares. The outcome is a bass-boosted drill beat that Kyan cut up with his depiction of a block party night in a favela: fancy motorcycles, spicy flirts, some booze and loads of hedonism. — Felipe Maia

Eladio Carrion – “Vida Buena”

The first cut off of Eladio Carrion’s debut Sauce Boys is a toast to the good life. The laid-back song might seem like Carrion simply relishing in excess (women, Gucci, weed), but a more tender side comes through as he looks back at all of his success with nothing but gratitude: “No me olvido de los que del cielo me están viendo, Mira todo lo que hicimos, sin querer queriendo.” His delivery is so heartfelt and incredulous that it makes you want to root for him as the rest of the album—a truly versatile mix that oscillates between hard-hitting trap and dark synth sounds—unfolds. —Julyssa Lopez

C. Tangana – “Demasiadas Mujeres”

C. Tangana continues to push the boundaries of the movimiento movement with “Demasiadas Mujeres.” His slithery flow, which first caught people’s attention in 2018 with his debut single “Un Veneno,” is elevated to new levels on “Demasiadas Mujeres”. The song, produced by fellow Spaniard Alizzz (Becky G, Rosalía, Doja Cat) is part victory march and part lamentation, combining elements of marching band snare, dark synths and pop strings, bringing to mind Kanye’s darkest fantasies and combining them with the sounds of Spanish folklore. The accompanying visuals help cement Tangana as one to watch in 2021. —Dave Acosta

DaniLeigh ft. Fivio Foreign – “Dominican Mami”

Prior to releasing her sensual, daring sophomore album MOVIE in November, singer DaniLeigh took fans back to her roots on trap cut “Dominican Mami.” Tapping collaborator Fivio Foreign (the late Pop Smoke’s trusted producer-in-crime), the song doesn’t just pay homage to DaniLeigh’s Dominican heritage—it’s a definitive anthem. DaniLeigh doesn’t refrain from swerving through the streets of the Dominican Republic in the song’s video as she glides over Foreign’s intoxicating production and even gives a nod to fellow Dominican pop icon Cardi B (“diamond’s they twerkin’ like Cardi,” she raps). DaniLeigh’s reign shines through the hustle, and on “Dominican Mami” her identity isn’t up for question. —Jaelani Turner-Williams


Beéle – “Mi Carta”
Paloma Mami – “For Ya”
Bodega Bamz – “Waiting for Tonight”
Jup Do Bairro, Linn Da Quebrada, Rico Dalassam – “All You Need Is Love”
Princess Nokia – “I Like Him”