Music

On the Radar Latin: Israel Fernandez, Andrea Bejar, XAVI & More Artists to Discover

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Every month, Billboard Latin and Billboard Español editors feature a small group of new or relatively unknown artists whose music we love. Think “diamantes en bruto” or “diamonds in the rough.” These are newcomers who have yet to impact the mainstream — but whose music excites us, and who we believe our readers should make a point to discover.

Our latest edition of On the Radar Latin includes emerging artists who we might’ve found anywhere from scrolling on TikTok to a Spotify playlist recommendation to a live music showcase. See our recommendations below.

Andrea Bejar

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Singer songwriter Andrea Bejar has a haunting, sweet voice that she’s married to ethereal songs, often accompanied by acoustic guitar and textured pads, that dwell on love and self. Everything blends beautifully because Bejar is such a mixture of her native Mexico, and the U.S., where she was largely raised (in Miami), and she’s able to write, think and emote in both English and Spanish equally. The result is a mix of Lana del Rey and Silvana Estrada, but with a fresh new outlook. Bejar also has a refined aesthetic that elevates her above the run of the mill indie fray. In a market in need of authentic young female voices, one to watch for sure. — LEILA COBO

Song For Your Playlist: “Mexico”

Banda Güegüense

Country: Nicaragua

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: If the 2023 Miss Universe crowning its first Central American queen any indication, Nicaragua is a country full of diamonds in the rough. One of those diamonds is a 13-member group called Banda Güegüense — which I discovered performing at a local restaurant in Miami — that is making waves in the Nicaraguan music scene. Named after one of the country’s signature folkloric masterpieces, this musical ensemble — led by the harmonizing vocals of Luis Escoto, Weyner Hernandez, Luis Martinez, and Libert Reyes — can deliver anything from Palo de Mayo (an Afro-Nicaraguan dance) to tropical music to pop ballads, and beyond.

Needless to say, they give it ALL on the dancefloor and can entertain a crowd all night long. Their debut single, “Amame Sin Miedo” (Love Me Without Fear), arrived early this year in the style of Banda, best showcasing their versatility, romantic lyrics and talented musicianship. The group, which performs every weekend at El Guacalito Restaurant, as well as at key local events and festivals, is currently making the rounds with their new single “Palo Pa’ Ti,” in honor of their Nicaraguan roots. — JESSICA ROIZ

Song For Your Playlist: “Amame Sin Miedo”

Cash Bently

Country: U.S.

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: SoundCloud rapper turned regional Mexican artist Cash Bently released his third corridos outing earlier this month, dubbed Cash Corridos 3 — on its cover, he appears flanked between two dobermanns, channeling the essence of Snoop Dogg (who’s a self-proclaimed corridos fan). Bently’s 12-track album continues to see the tatted L.A. crooner perfect his sierreños-leaning swagger with standout cuts like the lovelorn “Loco Sin Ti,” which boasts gripping guitarrón riffs, and “Amar Otra Vez,” which mixes guitar strums with a dash of electronic ambiance. Tuned about an octave lower, his latest single “Negaron Un Favor” also boasts melancholic rhythms with debaucherous-leaning lyrics sprinkled in for good measure. The artist began dropping English-language rap albums on SoundCloud in 2018, and in 2021 he debuted his first corridos album. In September, Cash Bently was selected as one of SoundCloud’s Latin artists to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month. — ISABELA RAYGOZA

Song For Your Playlist: “Negaron un Favor”

Israel Fernández

Country: Spain

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Born into a Gypsy family in Corral de Almaguer, Toledo, Fernández is a flamenco singer who blends traditional singing with his unique style, all while preserving the art of flamenco adding his own exquisite essence and personal touch to each performance. His work is a beautiful piece of art in which we can feel the harmony of his heart and soul — or as he best told Billboard, flamenco is “a way of living, it’s every day, it’s important every second that passes.” I came across Fernández during an industry event at the 2023 Latin Grammys week in Seville, and quickly realized that he’s one of the most captivating and talented emerging artists in the flamenco music scene of this century. Furthermore, he firmly established himself as the future of this genre with his debut album Amor (2020), where he’s backed by the passionate guitar riffs of Spanish artist Diego Del Morao. — INGRID FAJARDO

Song For Your Playlist: “Platero”

Karen Lizarazo

Country: Colombia

Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Only a handful of women dare to embrace vallenato, a genre historically dominated by men. Hailing from Aguachica, Cesar, birthplace of the popular Colombian rhythm, Karen Yulizza Lizarazo Ojeda defies this norm by remaining true to her roots, and it’s truly gratifying to witness how she infuses it with her personal touch, standing out as artist in the genre. Demonstrating admirable perseverance and a charismatic stage presence, Lizarazo is gradually managing to capture the attention of Colombians. Her tracks such as “Amor de Papel,” “Ganas Locas” (for which she collaborated on a remix with Eddie Herrera), and “Tarde lo Conocí” have garnered her a devoted fan base known as Karenistas. — LUISA CALLE

Song For Your Playlist: “Tuki Tuki” Feat. Rolando Ochoa

Maria José Llergo

Country: Spain

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: María José Llergo captivated me this month during Latin Grammy week at the Amazon event “La Cultura that Connects Us” in Seville, Spain, which she opened with a mesmerizing, powerful show ahead of Carin León’s presentation. The Spanish singer-songwriter, who just released her stunning debut album ULTRABELLEZA (Sony Music España) this year, offers a masterful combination of flamenco and pop, pushing the boundaries with soul-stirring vocals and profound lyrics about growing pains and humble beginnings in songs like “Superpoder” and “Rueda, Rueda.” In 2022, Llergo won a Goya Award – the Spaniard equivalent of the Oscar – for best original song for “Te Espera el Mar,” from the movie Mediterráneo. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS

Song For Your Playlist: “SUPERPODER”

Midnight Generation

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Hailing from Chihuahua, Mexico, Midnight Generation is a disco-infused electronic funk and soul band which sings predominantly in English, with a retro sound inspired by acts like Chick, Niles Rodgers and Daft Punk. Led by Fernando Mares, who founded the project in 2015, it has released two independent albums, including Odyssey in 2020 and Afterlife this year, with high-energy dance songs like “Another Day Gone” with Typow and “Starlight.” Currently on their Drop the Synthesizer tour in Latin America, the group plans to come to the U.S. in 2024. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS

Song For Your Playlist: “Another Day Gone” Feat. Typow

XAVI

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Born Joshua Xavier Gutierrez, the 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Phoenix — signed to Interscope Records — has doubled down on making a name for himself among the new generation of música mexicana artists, ever since breaking out over the summer with singles such as “La Víctima” and “Sin Pagar Renta.” While his music leans more sierreño, with guitar-heavy and moody melodies, his style is often described as tumbado romántico, which thrives on lyrical sensitivity. Most recently, he opened for labelmate Ivan Cornejo in Ontario, Calif. at the Toyota Arena on Nov. 22. While he’s yet to release an LP with original music — his first album was a covers set titled My Mom’s Playlist featuring songs such as “Kilometros,” “Rayando El Sol” and “No Me Queda Más” — Xavi is working on new music set to drop next year. — GRISELDA FLORES

Song For Your Playlist: “La Víctima”



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