Impact Highlights: Hispanic Artists Shaping Modern Music


Entertainment Team

Whether you’re relaxing at home, celebrating a score in a sports stadium, watching a movie or frequenting your local music venue, it’s likely you’ve enjoyed the works of many Hispanic and Latinx artists. In 2020 Billboard reported the consumption of Latin Music had grown faster than any other genre, with 30% of all tracks on YouTube’s Global Top Songs chart featuring Latin artists in any given week of 2020. Alongside this rising wave of popularity, more artists are embracing their cultural backgrounds and weaving their identity into their music, bending genres and sharing their stories with the music scene at large. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some artists new and old making an impact on both the local and national music scene.

The Aces 

Four friends since elementary school make up The Aces, an indie pop group from Provo, Utah. With sisters, Cristal and Alisa Ramirez on vocals, guitar and drums; McKenna Petty on bass and Katie Henderson supplying lead guitar and vocals, the group has created a multitude of catchy love songs. Their debut album, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, was released in 2018. The album explores the heartaches and triumphs of navigating an unpredictable relationship. Their newest album, Under My Influence,  was released in 2020.  It also explores the ups and downs of love with a focus on navigating relationships in the 21st century. One song on the album that captures this theme is “My Phone is Trying to Kill Me.” The group has a new single released this year called “Don’t Freak.” They are currently on tour and are playing at St Andrew’s in Detroit on Dec. 4, 2021. In addition to being wildly talented, the band has also worked hard to create music that their fans can relate to on a personal level. Specifically, they have released several Spanish versions of their songs to celebrate Cristal and Alisa’s Latinx heritage and relate to their Latinx fans. Whether it be through familiar feelings of heartbreak and euphoria, or the comfort of hearing your favorite song in your language, The Aces’ music has touched a lot of people. You can watch their music video for “Stuck” on YouTube as well as its Spanish version.

Louie Ramirez

Known as the “Quincy Jones of Salsa,” Louie Ramirez was a well-respected figurehead of the Latin Jazz and Boogaloo wave of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a multi-instrumentalist, having played timbales and keyboards, and became famous for his work as a bandleader and composer. After playing in several bands throughout the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, he began to produce his own albums. Some of his more celebrated works include Ali Baba and A Different Shade of Black. The title track off Ali Baba remains popular today, having appeared in popular media like the movie Chef. Ramirez’s music has a smooth, confident nature to it: Ali Baba showcases that best for new listeners.

Pancho Villa’s Skull

Hailing from Pontiac, Michigan, Pancho Villa’s Skull is a self-described “mariachi punk” band composed of brothers Tino Ybarra and Rolando Ybarra. Tino spent his youth hanging around his mariachi trumpet-playing grandfather and in southern Texas, according to MusicWiki Detroit. He sharpened his teeth as a performer in Detroit’s punk and ska scene as a teenager. Since Rolando joined Pancho Villa’s Skull in 2016, the band has released 2019’s politically charged Gentefication album and appeared twice on Lansing ska band Grey Matter’s 2020 album, Climbing Out.

Princess Nokia

Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, known professionally as Princess Nokia is one of the most unique fixtures in the New York rap scene. An outspoken performer of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, Frasqueri initially rose to prominence with 2017’s rough yet colorful 1992 Deluxe. On this record, she would utilize her personality to create songs that were just as weird and freaky as she was. Unlike her contemporaries, Nokia managed to authentically ruminate on her idiosyncrasies and the intersection of her identity, such as on the lethargic “Bart Simpson” and the convictive “Brujas.” Musically, Frasqueri injects herself beyond lyricism as well, such as her the emo-influenced EP, A Girl Cried Red, and the UK bass-esque oddity, Metallic Butterfly. While the lyrics might allude to the impact of being a pariah, it is something she takes in stride. Despite putting identity at the forefront of her music, Frasqueri manages to enlarge herself as a relatable figurehead of a new wave; paradoxically entrapping the listener in a dynamic slideshow of her mystique, her interests, and her identity distilled to their most powerful and alluring state.