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Salsa Music Isn’t Dead: Here Are 15 Hidden Gems Keeping the Tropical Genre Alive

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Salsa music has stood the test of time and evolved ever since its early-20th-century origins in Cuba. Needless to say, genre pioneers such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Fania All-Stars and Héctor Lavoe, all paved the way for the artists of today and tomorrow.

On the Billboard charts, tropical acts such as Victor Manuelle and Marc Anthony are forces to be reckoned with. The former artist leads the Tropical Airplay chart with a total of 81 entries, including 29 No. 1 hits, such as “Tengo Ganas,” which spent 13 weeks at the top in 2004. The latter artist boasts 35 No. 1 hits on the chart, including “Que Precio Tiene El Cielo,” “Vivir Mi Vida” and the Daddy Yankee-assisted “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta,” all of which reigned for more than 11 weeks.

Over on the Tropical Albums chart, “El Caballero de la Salsa,” Gilberto Santa Rosa, leads the pack with 37 album entries (12 which hit No. 1), followed by Victor Manuelle with a total of 27 entries.

But as artists such as Anthony, Manuelle and Santa Rosa continue to dominate the salsa music realm, a new generation of talented and passionately driven artists is surging.

Notably is Luis Vázquez, who in 2021 made history as the youngest soloist to top the Tropical Airplay chart with “Tu Fan.” The then-15-year-old beat out previous record-holder Leslie Grace, who was 17 when her “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” topped the chart in October 2012. Vazquez leads the new generation of salsa stars with eight entries on the Tropical Airplay chart and one in Tropical Albums with his debut studio album Comienzos.

Following him is Luis Figueroa, who in two years has placed eight titles on the Tropical Airplay chart, including two No. 1 hits: “Hasta El Sol de Hoy” in 2021 and “Bandido” this year. And there’s also the charismatic Christian Alicea, another potent artist, who has three Billboard chart entries to this point.

But these artists are not the only ones refreshing the genre — below, Billboard highlights 15 new and exciting salsa artists who you should be listening to:

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