2019 has been another year mainstream music production was reimagined with listeners’ applause extended towards the figures behind the beats of chart-topping songs. More than ever, cross-genre headliners like DJ Khaled, Marshmello, and DJ Mustard are revered for not only arranging radio cadences but releasing them under their own full-length albums, too. In a period where the impact of música urbana is grossly undermined, Latinx audiences are left to question, “where we have seen this before?”
In 2003, Mas Flow – the debut compilation LP from reggaeton producers, Luny Tunes – expanded upon the reggae en español gifted by Panamanians in the ’90s, sonically strengthening the genre and reaching the masses like never before. The Caribbean hitmakers enlisted ascending musicians such as Tego Calderón, Glory, Héctor & Tito, and a multitude of today’s living legends within urbano.
The body of work’s original melodies, hard-hitting arrangement, and trendsetting programming helped to pave the way for reggaeton’s present-day pop-esque radio takeover. Still, the production of Mas Flow echoed the rhythm-driven ’97 poetic, Boricua Guerrero: First Combat. The bilingual project, Boricua Guerrero: First Combat, became pivotal in the culture by coupling Spanish-language MCs beside hip-hop heavyweights from the mainland on wax. Moreover, the nineties offering magnified the beatmakers responsible for its instrumentation – a practice that is evident with the times’ audiovisuals and across streaming service platforms now.
Remezcla has compiled a list of ten figures behind the boards which shaped some of Latin trap, hip-hop, and reggaeton’s most successful hits to date. Their efforts, in no particular order, have created visibility to celebrate Latinidad harmoniously. Make your acquaintance with who is sonically defining this cultural moment in Latinx music.
One of this decade’s most significant architects for trap en español and reggaeton is Marco “Tainy” Masís. Groomed by Latinx production greats such as Luny and Nely, Tainy’s teenage infatuation with FruityLoops evolved into a slew of chart-topping hits from A-list reggaetoneros, both past, and present. With co-production on Cardi B’s no. 1 Hot 100 song, “I Like It,” featuring Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, in addition to his song credits inked throughout Bad Bunny’s no. 1 Top Latin Album debut, X100pre. Tainy’s consistent contributions to the culture are invaluable.
Most recently, his arrangement on Jhay Cortez’s, “No Me Conoce (Remix),” featuring J. Balvin, and Bad Bunny, brought Cortez more streams across platforms than any of his singles to date. Taking his art a step further, Tainy’s trapchata-turned-dembow, “La Romana,” by Bad Bunny and El Alfa will become a motion picture anthem in this summer’s, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Withal, Tainy’s genius is perfectly cradled throughout J. Balvin and Bad Bunny’s palo-filled, OASIS — the first millennial Latinx joint album of this magnitude.
After one year and nearly 2 billion YouTube views, Casper Magico, Nio Garcia, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny’s, “Te Bote,” still slaps harder than any other breakup perreo song. Behind the board of this globally renowned Latin trap tune was Jose Martin Velázquez, better known as Young Martino. The go-to Puerto Rican producer has since brought his talents to the mainland collaborating with the Dominican starlet, DaniLeigh on her ethereal track, “No Limits,” and more. To add, Young Martino’s production on Mora’s Los Angeles-based riddim, “La Culpa” boasts an animated music video that postures the hitmaker’s outreach. Each of his game-changing poetics molds careers and catalogs – just in time to launch his forthcoming compilation album.
Ovy On The Drums
Production guru, Ovy On The Drums is one of the key players that helped break fellow Colombian reggaeton singer-songwriter, Karol G onto American song charts. After Karol G’s honey-sweet payback track, “Ahora Me Llama,” Ovy On The Drums continued to make a name for himself – powering up multicultural collabs with everyone from Quavo, Paulo Londra, Piso 21, Damian Marley, Becky G, and more. The cross-genre producer musically orchestrated the reveal of Anuel AA and Karol G’s relationship-confirming bop, “Secreto.”
Its percussion-driven composition inspired each of the artists’ highest numbers on a given single. So, whether you prefer the Latin Grammy awarded songstress’ new tracks like “Go Karo,” or “Love With A Quality,” the beat constructor likely provided your speakers with a high-profile vibe. Aiming to become the sonic equivalent of his idol, Dr. Dre, Ovy On The Drums flaunted his skills on his songs like, “La Lá” alongside Mike Bahía, proving there is no facet of music he cannot master.
Before he became a redoubtable singer-songwriter, Chris Jeday established himself as a genre-blending producer for melodious money-makers Wisin & Yandel, Zion, Don Omar, Prince Royce, and others. With an influence that has only risen, the Big Boss himself recruited Jeday to arrange the dancehall-invigorated, “Adictiva,” with a feature that fulfilled Anuel AA’s long-awaited dream of working with Daddy Yankee. A masterful sample from the late salsero Frankie Ruiz paid homage to the classic, “La Cura,” showcasing Jeday’s ability to dig in the crates and create a hit. In this fashion, his past-meets-present approach guaranteed urbano newcomer Lunay, highly-coveted co-signs by Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee on the “Soltera Remix,” to much fanfare.
Cool & Dre
Marcello “Cool” Valenzano represents one-half of the production tandem Cool & Dre. His counterpart, Andre “Dre” Lyon, is of Jamaican descent and especially influential, considering much of the hip-hop and música urbana we enjoy derives from dancehall classics. For two decades, the Miami-duo evolved, and was particularly pioneering within Latinx hip-hop, due to their heavy involvement in the Terror Squad era alongside Fat Joe. Maintaining their rapport, Cool & Dre notably handled the arrangement of Fat Joe, and Remy Ma’s returning banger, “All the Way Up Remix,” enabling them to reconnect with JAY-Z.
In time, the veterans garnered several iconic production credits with the bops, “BLACK EFFECT,” “SUMMER,” and “713,” on The Carters’ album, EVERYTHING IS LOVE. Earlier this year, their Grace Jones, “La Vie en Rose” sample helped on-the-rise singer, Angelica Vila. This retroelement helped her song, “More in the Morning,” become the no.1 added record at urban radio following its release. Most recently, Cool & Dre earned a no. 1 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart placement for their collaboration, “Big Boy Talk” featuring Jeezy and Rick Ross on DJ Khaled’s LP, Father Of Ashad.
Hi Music Hi Flow
Ozuna is one of the most prominent musicians across genres, and his riddim maestro, Hi Music Hi Flow, played an integral role in sonically shaping the reggaetoneros 11 times platinum album, Odisea. While Hi Music Hi Flow records the “Única” star exclusively in his native tongue, together the pair has jolted their momentum in Latinx music worldwide – garnering some extraordinary numbers within mainstream realms. The producer made his mark, alongside DJ Snake, with the hypnotic Spanglish collaboration, “Taki Taki,” and its verses from Selena Gomez, Ozuna, and Cardi B. Following the aforementioned single’s music video reaching a billion YouTube views, Hi Music Hi Flow went to work on Ozuna’s soon-to-released offering, Niburu.
Super producer Josias de la Cruz, professionally known as, Nely “El Arma Secreta,” and his reggaeton cadences notably became a force to reckon with upon the release of Mas Flow 2. The bombastic compilation’s fast-moving hits enlisted features from Zion & Lennox, Ivy Queen, Daddy Yankee, and Tego Calderón, among other OGs. With the album’s co-production by Baby Ranks, Nely helped to expand conversations regarding inclusivity beyond Spanish-language radio stations.
El Arma Secreta’s unwavering vision has been instrumental in breaking mainstays like Tainy, with more acts to come. The discovery of ascending singer Mariah propelled new imperious earworms, “Blah,” and “Perreito,” dazzling audiovisuals that capture the starlet’s flow and potential. Nely’s staying power is a testament to his affinity with his Latinidad, and the ability to amplify a fusion of voices that mainstream gatekeepers are forced to acknowledge.
What Alejandro “Sky Rompiendo” Ramirez has accomplished in his twenties supersedes the wildest of dreams. As J Balvin’s go-to producer, Sky Rompiendo’s song credits are limitless. His efforts include the explosive edge of albums, Energia, Vibras, and the no.1 Billboard Latin Top 100 song, “Safari,” featuring Pharrell Williams and BIA. His behind-the-scenes work for J. Balvin on the Spanish-language remake of Willy William’s “Voodoo Song,” titled, “Mi Gente,” in time became a cry of celebration in the face of the Puebla earthquake, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria’s devastation. “Mi Gente,” won over the queen herself, Beyoncé, bolstering her Spanglish verses for its iconic remix.
The hitmaker is also partially responsible for the breezy craftsmanship within the tunes, “Baby,” and “Pineapple,” by Karol G. Sky Rompiendo catapulted some genius melodies alongside Tainy, on Rosalía and Balvin’s duet, “Brillo,” as well as the 2019 wonderment, OASIS. Beyond being booked and busy, Sky Rompiendo’s dedication over the years has established one of the most ostentatious resumes within today’s reggaeton-meets-pop collision.
Two-time Producer of the Year and Billboard Latin Music Award-winner, Christhian Camilo Mena Moreno, a.k.a. Saga WhiteBlack boasts an array of globally charted production credits for some of the brightest stars in Latinx musicology. After a memorable stint as a singer-songwriter, Saga WhiteBlack amplified the sound of his barrio in Colombia on wax with universalized zambo-influenced rhythms. In time, Juan Diego Médina Vélez signed him to La Industria INC adjacent to talents such as Nicky Jam. This connection changed Saga WhiteBlack’s calling for the better.
Thanks to his far-reaching touches on the “El Perdón (Remix)” with Enrique Iglesias for Nicky Jam’s triumphant album, Fénix – the beat genius pivoted to break out singles like Shakira’s, “Perro Fiel” featuring Nicky Jam, and Romeo Santos’ hard-hitting, “Bella y Sensual” featuring Nicky Jam, and Daddy Yankee. In 2019, Saga WhiteBlack straddled even more borders musically on “El Dilema,” a Universal Music France earworm off of the French headliner, Lartiste’s LP, Quartier Latin Vol.1.