Music

On The Radar Latin: Jimmy Rodriguez, Maura Nava, & More Artists to Discover

Jimmy Rodriguez Cr Diego Aponte Press 2024 Billboard 1548.jpg

Every month, Billboard Latin and Billboard Español editors spotlight a group of rising 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.

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Our latest edition of On the Radar Latin includes a wave of emerging artists, who we discovered by scrolling on social media, networking, or coming across their music at a showcase, for example. See our January 2024 recommendations below.

Artist: Jimmy Rodriguez

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: I first heard Rodriguez when he auditioned for Telemundo’s La Voz second season. Like all the participants, he presented himself with great emotion and was full of dreams. But something that made him stand out, besides his impeccable voice, was that he arrived wearing a Carlos Vives shirt as a gesture of manifestation (Vives indeed becomes his coach). The Mexican-born, Miami-based artist, also known as “El Mexicano Salsero,” is a combination of cheerful energy, creativity and distinctive vocals. Forming part of a new generation of salsa stars, Rodriguez brings his Mexican roots and tropical fusions together when he’s performing live, where often times you’ll see him rocking his handlebar mustache, traditional “pantalones de charro” pants, and the Mexican flag proudly hanging around his microphone. Along with his live band, it becomes an experience, not just a typical show. — INGRID FAJARDO

Song For Your Playlist: “El Rumbón” feat. Motiff & Tony Succar

Artist: Lara Project

Country: Venezuela

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Composed by Venezuelan-born brothers Manuel and Félix Lara, the Lara Project duo brings retro dance sounds from the ’70s and ’80s to the forefront. Using synths, pulsing beats and live instrumentation, the siblings effortlessly navigate and intertwine diverse musical genres, casting a wide net for potential listeners. The head-bobbing “Comme des Garçons,” released earlier this month, thrives on an irresistible funk rhythm and a captivating mid-tempo beat. The duo is set to drop their upcoming new album, Sobrenatural, in March via Interscope. — GRISELDA FLORES

Song For Your Playlist: “Comme des Garçons”

Artist: Maura Nava

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Nava is a rare hidden gem, one who has a story of admiration and resilience and who’s captivating vocals live to tell it. The Mexican-born, Miami-based rising act first gained exposure thanks to her cat — yes, her cat — via a TikTok video where she was flaunting her opera-singing skills and her furry pet crashed the video, only to perform with her. The video, which was blessed as “opera cat,” has garnered nearly 10 million views. But beyond her viral stint, it’s Nava’s enchanting aura and effortless soprano vocal range that ultimately got her into award-winning producer’s Julio Reyes Copello’s ArtHouse Academy, a deal with Universal Music Latin, and her own track on the soundtrack to Prime Video’s Zorro series. — JESSICA ROIZ

Song For Your Playlist: “Encontrarme” (Carla Morrison cover)

Artist: RENEE

Country: Mexico

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: There are few times when a streaming platform gets its recommendations right, but in this case, it led me to a musical treasure with RENEE. Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico, the singer-songwriter (whose full name is Sofía Renee Jiménez Alvarado) gives a new air to pop with her soulful voice, introspective lyrics, and sonic mix of jazz, soul, bossa nova and folk. Her lyrics address topics from the complexity of romantic relationships to her emotional state, while in her musical career she has reinvented herself on several occasions — both in her music and in her hair style.

She debuted in 2019 on Universal Music Mexico with RENEE, a three-song EP that goes from pop-soul and bossa-nova (and includes the single “Esperándote”), followed by the EP Viaje al Amanecer the same year, where she also showed her folk side. In 2020, she released her debut LP Breve Espacio. Highlights from her discography since include the bright funk “Quiero quedarme para siempre” with La La Love You, released in 2022, as well as the moving ballad “Extraños de nuevo,” and her 2023 album NMDQH, which includes her hit song “Nunca Tristes (Me Vale Madre).” RENEE started 2024 with the song “El Disfraz,” also showing her acting skills in the music video. With such an eclectic and captivating musical persona, it is certain that none of her songs will go unnoticed. — LUISA CALLE

Song For Your Playlist: “El Disfraz”

Artist: Ximena Guzmán

Country: Colombia

Why They Should Be On Your Radar: A natural born singer and songwriter, Ximena Guzmán began her formal music training at the age of 11 at the Conservatorio del Tolima, before studying lyrical singing at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. After collaborating and performing with national orchestras, mariachi ensembles and llanero groups, both nationally and internationally, she made her solo debut in October with the single “Duele,” showing a powerful, melodic voice with a contemporary style. She followed that in December with the infectious mariachi trap fusion “A Solas,” part of an upcoming EP produced by JC Karo (who has worked with stars such as Pedro Capó, Ricky Martin and Anuel AA), to be released this year by Ditto Music. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS

Song For Your Playlist: “A Solas”

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