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Chicago’s Sueños Festival Is A One-Of-A-Kind Dream Lineup For Reggaetón Fans

A new level of reggaetón music festival is hitting Grant Park in Chicago for the first time next month. On May 28 and 29, the Sueños Festival is bringing together acts who represent the genre’s legacy, present, and future. Among the heavy-hitters on the line-up are reggaetón legends Wisin y Yandel, Colombian superstar J Balvin, and Puerto Rican hit-maker Ozuna. There’s also a new wave of artists who are refreshing the genre and pushing it to new places like Jhayco, Sech, and Blessd. It’s a massive undertaking, but not something totally new for founder Aaron Ampudia.

Ampudia is also one of the founders of Baja Beach Fest, one of the biggest reggaetón music festivals happening on Mexico’s Rosarito shores. After a few years of success with that event, he decided to bring the genre into the states with Sueños Festival. Sueños translates to “dreams” in English, something reflected in this lineup for reggaetón music fans.

“I feel super proud to be able to put on a Latin festival like Sueños in Chicago for all the Latinos and everyone else who enjoys our culture and music,” Ampudia says. “To my knowledge, Chicago has not seen anything like this in the Latin space yet, so it’s an honor to make this one happen with all our partners. It wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Sueños Festival will be one of the last times that reggaetón fans will be able to see Wisin y Yandel live as a duo. After nearly 20 years of hits together and helping put the genre on the map, they’re taking a final victory lap this year with La Última Misión (The Final Mission) Tour. Growing up in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, singer Jhayco was a child of the genre who has seen artists like Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, and Don Omar break the mold for reggaetón.

“Imagine that you’re a kid listening to Wisin y Yandel’s music, seeing their work and their trajectory,” Jhayco says. “To be in the same place as them, performing on the same stage, and in front of the same audience, for me that’s major. Like the name of the event, it’s a dream for me to be a headliner.”

Two artists who were instrumental in ushering the second wind of reggaetón’s success in the past decade are also on the lineup: J Balvin and Ozuna. Ozuna has proudly represented reggaetón’s Caribbean roots and has managed crossover success with reggaetón fusion tracks with acts like Selena Gomez, Cardi B, DJ Snake, Megan Thee Stallion, and Blackpink’s Lisa. Likewise, J Balvin has led the Colombian wave of reggaetón stars that further globalized the genre like Maluma and Karol G. With his albums, 2016’s Energia and 2018’s Vibras, Balvin gave the genre an alluring electronic glow. The latter LP featured the global hit “Mi Gente” with French Producer Willy William that Beyoncé eventually jumped on. Balvin also helped jump-start Jhayco’s career by featuring on a remix of his breakthrough hit “No Me Conoce” with Bad Bunny.

“It’s great to be on a line-up with my friends, like Balvin, who I vibe with and is like a brother to me for life, and like Sech, who I respect so much. It’s like a family,” Jhayco adds. “The genre is like a family.”

Jhayco, Sech, Myke Towers, and Blessd are among the new wave of reggaetón stars who are keeping the genre going strong, each with their own unique spin. Sech hails from Panama, another Caribbean country where reggaetón is rooted. With his soulful voice, he’s given the genre a fresh R&B spin in his global hits like “Otro Trago” and “Relación.” Myke Towers from Puerto Rico is giving reggaetón and Latin trap music an edgier sound with his fierce rapping skills and cool flow. Like J Balvin’s beginnings, Blessd is another Medellín native who is leaving his Colombian touch on reggaetón. Then there’s Jhayco who is pushing reggaetón into a more electronica-infused direction. In 2020, his song “Dákiti” with Bad Bunny hit No. 5 on Billboard‘s all-genre Hot 100 chart. On his latest album Timelezz, he collaborated with Skrillex in “En Mi Cuarto.”

“I’m a loyal lover of deep house, so for me it was easy to combine those genres,” Jhayco says. “We’re only getting started with that. I love to evolve. My set will be very active, very energetic. It’s for dancing. It’s going to include all my hits like ‘Sensual Bebé’ and ‘Dákiti,’ that whole rundown.”

Outside of reggaetón, Sueños Festival is including more Latin genres that are starting to make noise around the world. Among the top headliners is Dominican powerhouse El Alfa, who is helping globalize his country’s dembow sound. The rapper recently released his album Sabiduria, in which he’s got artists like French Montana featuring in “Máquina de Dinero” and Lil Pump in “El Jablador.” Tokisha is another rising star from the Dominican Republic who is extending dembow’s reach. Spanish pop star Rosalía tapped her for “La Combi Versace” on her MOTOMAMI album and J Balvin featured her on “Perra” on his Jose album. Mexico is represented on the line-up as well with Natanael Cano and Fuerza Regida, who are pioneers in corridos tumbados, a movement that’s giving traditional Mexican corridos a hip-hop update and edge.

“People can expect a true, authentic Latin festival,” Ampudia adds. “This includes everything from the drinks and music to the activations, food, and, of course, lots of perreo! We take a lot of pride in making our festivals extremely unique for the fans, so I hope everyone in Chicago loves Sueños as much as we do already.”

Sueños Festival is one of the many Latin music festivals that have sprung up this year. With Latin music festivals happening all over the country now, it’s reflective of how music in Spanish and reggaetón, in particular, have captured a global audience, regardless of language or cultural boundaries.

“It’s been like 30 years and reggaetón won’t stop,” Jhayco says. “It’s impressive. I want it to keep growing. It’s the youth who are keeping the genre alive by dancing to it in the clubs or going to events like this one [Sueños Festival].”

Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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