We all know the big American names that came to fame via internet savviness. We have YouTube to thank for many of our teen-pop stars such as Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes — and we are living through a moment where rappers like Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert have found success by learning the lessons of Lil B and the value of a retweet.
But the English-speaking world doesn’t have a monopoly on virality or internet hustling. There are plenty of artists in the Latin music world who are out there twitteando in order to catch their big break. And for quite a few of them, it’s worked out great.
Case and point:
You’d like to think a rapper with as much talent as Álvaro Diaz would have found fame through traditional avenues eventually. But due to the overbearing presence of reggaeton in his native Puerto Rico, he probably never would have reached his current level success if he hadn’t taken matters into his own hands.
Diaz formed a collective called LV CIUDVD and produced his own tracks and videos. The clips found an audience on YouTube and Soundcloud — turns out plenty of boricuas were looking for straight-up rap in Spanish — propelling Diaz to the point that even American hip-hop personalities like Ebro had to sit up and take notice.
How do you get famous on the internet? Covering someone else who did it before you certainly can’t hurt.
That’s exactly what Mexicali’s Vazquez Sounds did when they posted a rendition of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” to YouTube in 2011. The band of youngsters instantly went viral and the single climbed all the way to the top of the Mexican Top 100 chart. They parlayed that success into an album of original material that netted them a Best New Artist nomination at the 2015 Latin Grammys.
The internet didn’t exist in Karol G’s father’s time. He tried to make it as a musician and simply couldn’t catch the right ears in that old-fashioned grind. But luckily for the subject of our latest Uncharted, we live in a much-more connected world now. And sometimes you can become a star by doing things differently enough to pique the curiosity of YouTube users.
Karol G’s blend of pop and reggaeton would be novel enough, but the fact that she’s a woman in a male-dominated genre and a gifted singer/rapper was enough to push her from internet curio to genuine star.
The Narvaez Family
The Narvaez Family’s star-making YouTube clip was about as far from the mainstream of Latin music as you can get. They got nearly 30 million views on an acoustic cover of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ folk-pop hit “Home.” But since then, they’ve used their notoriety to spread Spanish language classics and Latin and Carribean takes on famous English hits.
Whitest Taino Alive
It might be a stretch to call Whitest Taino Alive “famous,” but they’re certainly important. The Domincan groups post-genre blend (everything from chillwave to merengue) is cool, but where the group really shines is in their lyricism, regularly tackling controversial topics in Dominican society that earn them as many angry emails as fans. The group has generated enough buzz to play major music festivals stateside thanks to the music they distribute via Soundcloud and Youtube. But ultimately, WTA owes a huge debt of gratitude to the internet. If they hadn’t come up in the age of the web, you wouldn’t know who they are since there’s no way a major label would touch their tapes.