You don’t need stats and figures to notice the surging popularity of Latin music, just turn on the radio or your favorite streaming platform. In 2019 alone Latin music accounted for $296 million dollars in revenue according to the Recording Industry Association of America and in 2020 seven of the top 10 most streamed artists on YouTube were Latin Artists.
One of those artists is Puerto Rican rapper and pioneer of the Latin Trap sound, Anuel AA. Anuel joined the recent Yahoo event Celebrating Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month to discuss the evolution of the genre and how he has used social media to grow beyond simply just being another rapper.
In July of 2018, Anuel AA released his debut album, “Real Hasta la Muerte”, on the day he was released from a more than 2-year jail sentence for gun possession. After months on the Billboard charts in 2019, he released the song “China,” a collaboration with fellow Latin artists Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna and J Balvin. The popularity of the global smash hit resulted in Latin Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Record of the Year and cemented his place among the top Latin artists.
“It's really big. And like the whole history has influenced me a lot, it's super important. Because right now, Spanish music is one of the music that everybody listens to the most around the world.”
Leila Cobo, the Vice President/Latin Industry Lead at Billboard and the author of "Decoding Despacito" was also a guest during the Yahoo event and knows it is not just the music that has turned Anuel AA into one of the biggest stars on the planet in just two years. “I think that he's an artist, he's a great example, of an artist that's known how to use his social media, first to connect with his fans who are very connected to his social media. And then he also likes, you know, he likes to he's a provocateur in social media.”
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic halted almost all live music shows, events and festivals some artists successfully turned to social media to engage with their fans. With the explosion of social media apps like Tik Tok impacting total streams of artists' songs, those who were successful at reaching their demographic saw their popularity skyrocket, including Anuel.
“Yeah, everything has changed all of a sudden since the pandemic hit. Like, yeah, the whole, the whole music. Everything that was has now changed. Tik Tok counts as streams, everything has been really different. And a lot of people adapted really quick. It hurt a lot of people too but a lot of people adapted quick, that you already know. So, like I like I like I like it, because in order to keep growing, we have to keep evolving. And so I like it.”
Now at the top of his industry, as his music continues to smash records and destroy old beliefs of the genre's limitations Anuel has no intentions of slowing down. Seeing his success on the charts as merely a building block to create something beyond just music.
“I'm just working trying to influence the streets in the best way possible. Like me, I never had no role models. So I really, I'm really focusing on that. I'm really focusing on not just being a big rapper, but being a big, big business. So it's something that step by step, I'm going through it, we make it a little by little, it's gonna be a big influence for the streets.”