Rosalía's <em>Motomami</em> is one of the best Latin albums of 2022.

Rosalía's Motomami is one of the best Latin albums of 2022. / Gotham/Getty Images/Photo Illustration: Jackie Lay/NPR

It was a heart-pounding, dance-inducing, head-spinning year in Latin music. Between the immeasurable cultural impact of Bad Bunny's exponential rise, and the relentless commitment of up and coming artists to play between genre lines, this is undoubtedly a moment of celebration for the cultural tapestry that is Latin music.

But in a moment where global eyes are on the people who make and celebrate Latin music, there is an urgency, within the music itself and how we tell its story, in highlighting and remembering its origins — music is and always has been the corazon de nuestras familias, comunidades and calles. It is inextricably linked to a rich diasporic history of an even more vibrant lineage of peoples. We take this year as a celebration of our challenges as much as our successes, and breathe through the ebb and the flow as we always have — through the rhythm that pulses within and unites us all. —Anamaria Sayre

X Alfonso, Síntesis and Eme Alfonso, Ancestros Sinfónico

Cross-genre reinterpretations can be tricky — often the purity of one musical form is sacrificed to accommodate the other. That is definitely not the case in this expertly executed combination of a symphony orchestra and the music of the traditional, Afro-Cuban spiritual practice known as Santería. Cuban musician X (Equis) Alfonso enlisted his parents, Carlos Alfonso and younger sister Eme Alfonso, to create such a thrilling and rich program of music that it moved me from the first note. I didn't need the recent Latin Grammy win in the folk category to convince me that this is absolutely one of the best records I have ever heard. —Felix Contreras

Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti

Since X 100PRE, Bad Bunny has demonstrated an uncanny ability to up the ante of his projects, and Un Verano Sin Ti solidifies his place as one of the moment's most exciting music makers. From the irresistible merengue beat of "Después de la Playa" to the fist-pumping protest anthem "El Apagón," Un Verano Sin Ti is a fresh blend of styles rooted in the artist's deep and abiding love for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean at large. It's an album sure to spill out of speakers for many summers to come. —Fi O'Reilly

Rosalía, Motomami

"Moto" and "mami" don't feel inherently compatible, but experimental pop vocalist, producer and dancer Rosalía turned inward to the seamless integration of heartfelt and fuerte that lives within her and transformed that effortless synergy into a sonic storm of stunningly produced, genre-defiant tracks. Sashaying between reggaeton beats and impromptu jazz breaks, the motomami showcases the true breadth of her dancing prowess in the ease with which she delicately balances and imbues seemingly disparate sonic traditions. —Anamaria Sayre

Silvana Estrada, Marchita

Marchita takes us through the stages of grief as her Venezuelan cuatro guitar plays to the rhythm of heartbreak. Silvana Estrada beautifully depicts the raw emotion of a shattered heart as her voice takes the main stage. She devotes this dynamic album to the experience of lost love. It starts with soft spoken lyrics and minimal guitar, but transcends into a full-bodied concert filled with a symphony of strings. —Sofia Seidel

Adrian Quesada, Boleros Psicodélicos

There was a time when I had Adrian Quesada on the Alt.Latino podcast because at that moment he had several musical projects going at the same time — he was that creatively prolific. Fresh off of a musical head-turner called Black Pumas, Quesada assembled a who's who of the new Latin vocalist vanguard to explore the emotional power of the traditional bolero. And they are indeed psicodélico if only for his producer's tint of modernity, both musical and in terms of attitude. —Felix Contreras

Noelia Recalde, Mi Propia Casa

Mi Propia Casa (My Own House) is a delightful testament to the fact that we've all gotten a little weirder over the last few years. Recalde layers voices and quotidian sounds over her chronicles of pandemic living and unraveling, creating a unified and organic collection as she experiments with texture and space. It's easy to recognize the emotional highs and lows of the nearly 30-minute album, a testament to Recalde's musical gifts and her ability to distill the pandemic's rawness with such clarity. —Fi O'Reilly

Natalia Lafourcade, De Todas Las Flores

After a seven-year break from original music, Natalia Lafourcade embraces us with a poetic reflection of life and death in De Todas Las Flores. The listener becomes a fly on the wall as she sings her deepest thoughts in a soft, dark tune with a harmony of violins, guitar and piano. You can hear the influence of Latin jazz throughout the album. She adds rhythms of light jazz and samba into her cheerful songs like the record's title track, where she invites the listener to bloom into their own person. In her moodier songs, you can hear a single guitar stringing along the melody, but Lafourcade rises above, filling the space with passion and yearning. —Sofia Seidel

iLe, Nacarile

On Nacarile iLe plays genre bricoleur, drawing from hip-hop, boleros, somber mariachis and pop to create an album that is both a protest and soothing meditation. Armed with a troupe of collaborators, from Ivy Queen and Trueno to Flor de Toloache and Mon Laferte, iLe's songs of struggle are set on a transnational stage, with rallying cries about natural disasters, government impunity and patriarchal oppression heard from every corner of the Spanish speaking world. But the most intimate and powerful in the album occur when iLe is by herself — suspended in melancholy and heartbreak, surrounded by nature and swaddled by air. —Vita Dadoo Lomeli

Claudia Acuña, Duo

This album is a bit of a comeback after Claudia Acuña took time off to start a family. It was worth the wait as a superb addition to the recorded work of one of the most underrated jazz vocalists of our time. Don't be fooled: singing duets can be incredibly challenging and Acuña does not shy away from the challenge. The result is a lesson in how it can be done technically and artistically. —Felix Contreras

Omar Apollo, Ivory

Fans of prolonging their own suffering (or souring a perfectly good mood) by indulging in melancholy bops will find plenty to love on Ivory. Apollo's debut album confirms him as a maestro of tender confessionals, and his honeyed vocals slink and sulk across a menagerie of genres, never losing their mesmerizing touch. It's the perfect album for reveling in the yearning, hurt and occasional braggadocio of devotion. —Fi O'Reilly

Chucky73, Reencarnaciòn

There are two sides to Chucky73: the old Chucky, known for layering drill, urbano and dembow, and the new Chucky, better, bolder and reincarnated into a goat. All of the old and new constituent parts of the Dominican-born rapper are showcased in the short but explosive Reencarnaciòn. Chucky73 favors experimentation in this EP and, in under 20 minutes, moves seamlessly through a variety of styles, from its affecting monologue in the title track, the sultry "Khunsa" and "Apaguen," whose signature polyphonic chorus continues to reverberate even after the party's over. —Vita Dadoo Lomeli

Jessie Reyez, Yessie

Eternal reina of laying emotions bare, Canadian-Colombian singer Jessie Reyez employs subversive lyricism and genre-bending instrumentation in a raw, sonically biting display of empowered heartbreak. The stunningly dynamic vocals that have repeatedly made her a stand-out feature weave complex narratives that make space for multiple expressions of Reyez to co-exist on her second album. —Anamaria Sayre

Carla Morrison, El Renacimiento

Mexican vocalist Carla Morrison's reliably resilient spirit shines effervescently in her vocally masterful, powerhouse album, El Renacimiento. Arming itself with the promise of the artistic transformation suggested in its title, The Renaissance is dominated by an emboldened, up-tempo, celebratory pop version of the legacy artist. Captivating listeners with some of her most resounding vocal performances to date, Morrison serves as champion of her own hero's journey, exposing the raw realities of her struggles with mental health, life and love along the way. —Anamaria Sayre

Hermanos Gutiérrez, El Bueno Y El Malo

With tracks titled "Hermosa Drive," "Cielo Grande" and "Pueblo Man," it's difficult for Hermanos Gutiérrez's new album to not transport its listeners to scenes of desolate, infinite highways, the haunting presence of mythic vaquero and all of the hues the sky can contain at once. As much as the brothers' spaghetti-twang, instrumental record evokes a long drive through a forgotten west, El Bueno Y El Malo also stands out as an endless scroll of impressionist sounds that fade into one another, with subdued and beautiful chord arrangements that guide the listener on a passage from here to nowhere. —Vita Dadoo Lomeli

Mabe Fratti, Se Ve Desde Aquí

The unwittingly ethereal Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti presents incredible layers and tantalizing harmony in her album Se Ve Desde Aquí. Her vocals and cello are so rich that the hollowness surrounding them makes for a high contrast listening experience, pulsing with an aura of unnerving simplicity and high-powered mysticism. —Anamaria Sayre

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