It’s 2020, believe it or not. Despite the grueling start to the year—so grueling in fact that many in Puerto Rico essentially threw January out and started the year in February—we’re trudging along and looking forward to what the remaining months in this decade’s first year have in store.
With albums by Bad Bunny, Cardi B and Kali Uchis (among others) around the corner, we thought we’d share some of the many releases we can’t wait to stream on repeat.
Bad Bunny - YHLQMDLG (Yo Hago Lo Que Me De La Gana)
Release date: Any second now
You can taste the difference in meat that was left to marinate overnight.
Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio has speedily established himself as the archetypal experimental artist in urbano throughout the last five years. Like you, I can’t wait to hear each and every one of the 200 palos he has up his sleeve, but also… I can.
It should be noted that being excited for an album does—or at least should—not equate to being in a rush to hear it. Bad Bunny’s follow-up to X100PRE is perhaps the most-awaited album at the moment and the pressure is on because of the standard that his debut collection set in 2018.
Still, the Vega Baja, Puerto Rico-native is in competition only with himself—not only because that’s the way it should be, but because that’s the way his peers have made it out to be—and that is perhaps the reason why he’s quite possibly in a position to disappoint.
Hurried work is an industry norm in the streaming machine, but that doesn’t mean someone of Bad Bunny’s caliber needs to succumb to it. If Rihanna’s Navy can wait, so can we. No matter what comes next for Benito, my hope is that this week’s (alleged) album release outshines Benito from two years ago and that he knows it’s ok to let the meat of his work marinate for as long as he needs to. -Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo
Princess Nokia - Everything Is Beautiful & Everything Sucks
Release Date: Today
Destiny’s been busy. Both Destiny Frasqueri—a.k.a. Loisaida and Spanish Harlem’s very own Princess Nokia—and destiny in the fatalistic sense, too. After Princess Nokia burst onto the scene with 2017’s 1992 Deluxe, she seemingly manifested everything already yet to come: Her stronghold as one of New York City’s freshman MCs, her tours around the world and her undying boss bitch energy (the kind that sees the Boricua star both throwing soup at subway racists, and starring as a summer indie film’s ingénue, because why not). Sometime during it all, Princess Nokia whipped up not one, but two albums set to release today. Everything Is Beautiful and Everything Sucks capture an artist only like Nokia, one whose destiny always seems to pull her in duplicitous directions. We got an idea of how that sounds thanks to this week’s earlier teasers, “Green Eggs & Ham” (via Beautiful) and “Practice” (via Sucks)—the former teeming with bouncy, Chance the Rapper-esque flows, whereas the latter boasts the gritty, emo-girl energy Nokia reps best. Everything Sucks is already out now, whereas Everything Is Beautiful drops at noon, EST. Now to decide which side we’ll love more. -Jenzia Burgos
Sexores - Salamanca
Release date: March 13, 2020.
Thanks to their 2018 album East/West, Sexores have established themselves as one of the most innovative alternative bands in Latin America. East/West was a culmination of years of hard work, leading the band from their origins in the Ecuadorian music scene to international stages. Now they are ready to follow it up with an ambitious album. The forthcoming project works something like a concept album, linking the persecution of women throughout history with modern-day misogyny. From what we’ve already seen, lyrics explore folklore and delve heavily into symbolism, while the music turns away from East/West’s dancy synthpop to the darker tones found on past releases like Historias de Frío and Red Rooms—think, shoegaze and gothy-dream pop. The self-produced album has already given us “Mistress of the Marble Hill,” which shows the band shimmering in black velvet; a good indication of what to expect. -Marcos Hassan
Salt Cathedral – Carisma
Release date: April 17, 2020.
Chameleonic tropical-pop duo Salt Cathedral have taken the scenic route to their full-length debut, Carisma. The Brooklyn via Colombia pair first earned critical buzz with the release of their cerebral 2014 EP, Oom Velt, slowly but steadily pivoting towards a glossier and far more danceable sound with a string of singles, soon to be compiled into their highly anticipated Carisma LP. A fresh infusion of Spanish-language lyrics, hefty doses of reggaeton and dancehall, a recent signing to Ultra Records, and thrilling cameos from the likes of Assassin, Big Freedia and Jarina de Marco all point toward an album stacked with hits perfectly primed for our summer playlist rotation. -Richard Villegas
Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia
Release date: April 17, 2020.
Colombian-Canadian art reina Lido Pimienta dropped a bombshell recently: Her follow-up to 2016’s Polaris Prize-winning, La Papessa, will finally arrive on April 17. With Miss Colombia, Pimienta promises to delve even deeper into the haunting political and diasporic explorations of previous releases, already evidenced by the stunning lyricism and visuals of lead singles “No Pude” and “Eso Que Tu Haces.” Pimienta has teased rhythmic collisions of gaita, porro, cumbia and synthpop, while never fully straying from the organic roots of her musicality. Miss Colombia will also see the songstress linking up with Bomba Estéreo’s Li Saument and Palenque legends Sexteto Tabala to further imbue her songs with the indigenous and Afro-Colombian DNA she so poignantly centers. -Richard Villegas
Trillones – Onirogeografía
Release date: May 2020.
With his upcoming album Onirogeografía, Mexicali producer Trillones has achieved a not-quite impossible feat, but certainly an unlikely one: retaining the introspective complexities of his early releases while harnessing a nuanced and refreshing sense of musical humor. Singles like “La Nueva Despedida,” “Bien Librado” and “Rupturas” build sly yet earnest synthpop bops atop tribal and banda arrangements. It all pays homage to Trillones’s undeniable Norteñoness, reaching far beyond predictable regional trappings. Onirogeografía suggests a dream of musical borderlessness we’d like to see become a reality sooner than later. -Richard Villegas
El Shirota - TBA
Release date: June 2020.
El Shirota is rapidly becoming one of the most interesting guitar bands in Mexico, and their evolution is nothing short of exciting. Since the release of their second self-titled EP in 2018, the band shed their spikier and more experimental tendencies for lean, ‘90s affected indie rock. This kicked off with a string of singles throughout 2019, including “Carreta Furacão,” “Tarde/Temprano” and “Más De Una Vez,” showcasing a deeper emotional resonance coming from Shirota’s fuzz pedals. 2020 will give us their debut full-length album after touring Mexico and the U.S., as well as triumphant sets in various festivals, including Nrmal. Produced by the band and mixed by their own bassist, David Lemus, the still-untitled album is expected to follow the lead of first single “Más De Una Vez.” And according to guitarist/vocalist José Ignacio Gómez, it will showcase some of the biggest influences from their childhood. Expect another single to drop in April prior to the album’s release at the beginning of the summer. -Marcos Hassan
Rosa Pistola - Rosa la Maldosa
Release date: Summer 2020.
I’m this Mexico City DJ’s number one stan, so call me biased, but I think Rosa Pistola’s upcoming mixtape will open some eyes (and ears) to what perreo can be like in 2020. Unlike many of her pop market-focused peers, Rosa tends to steer toward grimier, underground reggaeton—which is hardly what’s expected of women in the genre’s 2020 game. Like 2018’s Linea de Sexxx, this summer’s Rosa la Maldosa will spotlight Mexican producers and call upon vocalists from around the world to flesh out her nasty visions. -Caitlin Donohue
Natalia Lafourcade - Un Canto Por Mexico
Release date: TBD.
Natalia Lafourcade spent the last several years putting together Musas Vol. 1 and Musas Vol. 2, a pair of back-to-back albums recorded as tender love letters to the great songwriters of Latin America. She’s turned her gaze to the past yet again for Un Canto Por Mexico, a forthcoming album that uses the sonic roots of Mexico as inspiration. Lafourcade spent some time in Jáltipan de Morelos, widely considered the center of Mexico’s jarocho genre, and began experimenting with other classic styles, like ranchera and bolero. Un Canto Por Mexico actually doubles as a benefit album, as the proceeds will go toward repairing the damage that the Veracruz San Jarocho Cultural Center endured after 2017’s deadly earthquakes in the country. Lafourcade has already released the album’s first single, “Una Vida,” a dulcet testament to her efforts to preserve and carry on Mexican traditions. -Julyssa Lopez
Buscabulla - TBD
Release date: TBD.
A lot has changed for Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle, the Puerto Rican couple behind the electronic duo Buscabulla. After living in Brooklyn for several years, they decided to move back home and help repair some of the damage that Hurricane Maria brought to their communities—with Barrios even going so far as to start a non-profit, PRIMA, that connects artists with resources across the island. While the pair have always created dreamy, delicate electro-pop that evokes the spirit of Puerto Rico, their new album already shows signs of this newfound urgency. The record’s first single, “Vámono,” is a quiet celebration of the island’s resilient spirit and its ancestral expressions, powered by a propulsive drumline that doesn’t let up for the entire song. -Julyssa Lopez
The Marías - TBD
Release date: TBD.
Details of The Marías’ forthcoming album are tightly under wraps, but we do know that the jangly indie band has quietly hinted about their new release in a since-deleted Facebook post. The L.A. psych-soul group has also been releasing new music—most recently, a short cover of Mac DeMarco’s “Let My Baby Stay”—and linking up with Sara King, Kid Bloom and emerging Venezuelan-Colombian neo-bolero singer, Maye, for a string of shows late last year. Could this be the first time The Marías verge into collaborations? Can we expect more dreamy, melancholic tunes? One thing’s for sure: A new Marías record is coming, and it’s all but certain to have us in our feelings. -E.R. Pulgar
Kali Uchis - TBD
Release date: TBD.
Colombian-American R&B chameleon Kali Uchis ended 2019 strong when she dropped “Solita,” the trap-influenced lead single off her forthcoming sophomore studio album. A rattling avalanche of a track, “Solita” is her most trap-centric to-date with production by reggaeton juggernaut, Tainy. Lyrically, the track is classic Kali Uchis fare—but sung entirely in Spanish. Uchis has recorded in the language in the past, but told 97.1 AMP Radio that aside from “one or two other bilingual tracks,” her new record will predominantly be in Spanish. It’s a change that’s made her more relaxed in the studio, and at a point where she can do “whatever the f*** [she] wants,” she told People en Español. As one of this past decade’s strangest and most flexible creatives digs into her roots, listeners can soon expect to see Uchis in her truest form: brutally honest, heart-wrenchingly romantic, and sonically surreal. -E.R. Pulgar
Mula - TBD
Release date: TBD.
Dominican tropical-fusion trio Mula have kept extremely busy since the release of their momentous sophomore LP, Aguas, back in 2017. Since then, they’ve collaborated with production powerhouses like Tittsworth and Cero39, and booked globally renowned festivals like NRMAL, Estéreo Picnic and the inaugural edition of Vive Latino Spain. But new music remains Mula’s foremost focus. The band began teasing their forthcoming record in late 2018 with the release of their devilishly sensual merenbow banger, “Sirena.” Drum and bass also seem to be a heavy influence on Mula’s still untitled, undated new album, with rapid breakbeats creeping into “Sirena,” along with follow-up singles “Ella Sabe” and “Y Ahora.” -Richard Villegas
Cardi B - TBD
Release date: TBD.
We’ve all been waiting for Cardi’s next drop, but let’s be real: It’s no easy feat to release an even better follow-up to one of 2018’s best albums. Invasion of Privacy saw La Caldi’s meteoric rise in rap, ticking off accolades like Spotify’s most-streamed female rap album and landing her on the U.S. cover of Vogue by the end of 2019. Yet Cardi’s still fielding doubts over her sophomore release. “There’s certain music that I want to do, but I feel like, is people interested in that?” she told Billboard late last year. And by “certain music,” we have a feeling that means leaning even deeper into her Dominican roots—both a risk and an opportunity for someone who has the American commercial market at their fingertips. Cardi last tried her hand at something like this with “Mi Mami,” her collab with dembowsero El Alfa. Except, it wasn’t a dembow, and the rapper caught flack over the decision. But even then, it was all part of a bigger plan: “Let’s play the game they play and make reggaeton/trap, and then we’ll hit them with dembow,” she promised. Here’s hoping Cardi’s forthcoming opus brings the bars we already love her for, along with a nod to the urbano genres that could use more love. -Jenzia Burgos
Silvana Estrada - TBD
Release Date: TBD.
About a year into serenading me into her fandom with songs like “Al Norte,” Veracruz, Mexico-native Silvana Estrada released her sweet take on Juan Garbiel’s “Amor Eterno” and it’s been a weekend morning favorite since. Estrada released her first and only EP until now, Primeras Canciones, in October 2018. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter’s first official debut album is in the works, and—though there are few artists this can be said for—I already know I’m going to love it. Good primers for her sound include aforementioned tracks and “Dividido” with Alex Cuba. You’re welcome. -Ecleen Luzmilla Caraballo
A. Chal - TBD
Release Date: TBD
Bilingual Peruvian papi A. Chal’s next EP is allegedly due soon and I can only hope he includes some of that cocksure-sadboi line-threading energy he exudes on social media on the track, whilst providing a worthy alternative to “000000.” My expectations are high and the car is low—ever ready to bounce down the streets of Queens with this new-new in tow. As is apparently the theme here, this trap and R&B prince’s latest collection of songs, Exotigaz, was released in 2018. -Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo
Las Robertas - Love Is The Answer
Release Date: TBD.
Las Robertas are currently in the studio finishing up their fourth album, Love Is The Answer, which is expected to drop sometime this year. The Costa Rican band has undergone a shakeup in their lineup (and not for the first time), now featuring both members of sister band Ave Negra, plus Daniela García. They’re set to join Mercedes Oller and Fabrizio Durán on what will be their first studio work together. Meanwhile, Owen Morris (Oasis, The Verve, New Order) is handling production duties on the follow-up to Las Robertas’ 2019 EP, Together Outrageously, and we’re especially eager to hear what his influence does to their psychedelic-facing trajectory. Fingers crossed we won’t have to wait too long. -Cheky