LAS VEGAS — The Latin music industry has become more urban and more female, judging by the artists set to be recognized Thursday night at the 2019 Billboard Latin Music awards.
The Puerto Rican-Dominican reggaeton Latin trap artist Ozuna is expected to take home some wins since he dominates the list of nominees with a record 23 nominations across 15 categories.
Fellow chart-topping artists J Balvin and Nicky Jam follow with 13 nominations each, Bad Bunny with 12 and Daddy Yankee with eight.
All of the nominees for artist of the year, the top award of the night, are Latin urban musicians — Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny J Balvin and Ozuna — effectively reflecting how music genres like reggaeton and Latin trap have fueled the steady growth of Latin music globally in recent years after being mainly dominated by Mexican Regional music, pop and tropical genres.
The Latin Billboard nominations also reflect the rise of female urban artists such as Anitta, Becky G, Karol G and Natti Natasha, who in the last couple of years have altered the male-dominated genre.
Both Karol G and Natti Natasha are the first females to be nominated in the best new artist category in at least four years.
"In many ways, we've been building our own path," said Karol G in Spanish during Latin Music Week in Las Vegas. "I feel like there was a lack of habit of listening to us and listening to our lyrics in urban music. ... But the fact is that the doors have opened up for us now," added the Colombian reggaeton singer.
Karol G and Natti Natasha join singer-songwriter Becky G and Jennifer Lopez in the hot Latin songs artist of the year, female category, while Brazilian star Anitta is nominated for social artist of the year with the Argentine singer Lali Esposito.
"If we're all going to be about girl power, it's more about acting the part and not just talking about it," Becky G said.
During Latin Music Week, Ozuna teased that a remix of his song "Baila, Baila" is expected to be released during the Billboard Latin Music show — adding that "it is going to be very special" and a big surprise he can't reveal until then.
Other nominees and crowd favorites are set to perform during the award show, being held in the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas. Among them are urban music legends like Wisin y Yandel, Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee and also pop music groups like CNCO and Reik, as well as Latin music's hottest couple, Karol G and Anuel AA.
J Balvin is bringing his Coachella collaborations to the Billboard Latin Music stage, singing hits with Spanish singer Rosalía and Grammy-nominated musician Sean Paul, among other performances.
All-time Latin artists like Marc Anthony and Carlos Vives are also set to perform during the ceremony.
The awards are meant to put a spotlight on Latin music, specifically the urban and reggaeton genres that have not garnered nominations in big, mainstream award shows despite their record-breaking numbers in the past few years.
The show will be broadcast live Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on Telemundo. (Telemundo and NBC News are owned by Comcast-NBCUniversal).
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