Photo courtesy of Hispanicize

The representation of Latin artists has been growing considerably over the years, all thanks to hundreds of artists who take little bits and pieces from here and there inspired by the sounds of our culture. But where does this inspiration come from, and who were the ones who paved the way?

Many albums changed the music industry in Latin America and made a difference. While it was hard to choose only a handful of them, we have selected five Latino albums worth highlighting not only for the number of copies sold or their position in the charts but also for the impact and influence they had on the music industry of an entire continent.

Buena Vista Social Club, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ (1997)

This is a classic of Latin American music and an emblematic album for Cubans. Buena Vista Social Club brings together musicians from pre-revolutionary Cuba and artists of the new generation to sing great classics of Cuban music. This album marked an important moment and gave a new light to those voices forgotten during the revolution. Buena Vista Social Club was a great success, and the song “Chan Chan” became an international hit.

Café Tacuba, ‘Re’ (1994)

‘Re’ by Mexican band Café Tacuba was the album that put Latin American rock in the spotlight. The production was in charge of the Argentine Gustavo Santaolalla and is considered by Rolling Stones magazine the best album of the band and the best album in the history of Latin American rock. ‘Re’ was strongly inspired by Mexican culture and the sounds of the capital city Ciudad de México.

Gloria Stefan, ‘Mi Tierra’ (1993)

Cuban singer Gloria Estefan’s first Spanish-language album ‘Mi Tierra’ is one of the most successful of her career. Estefan expresses through melancholic melodies her love and longing for a Cuba during the 1950s. ‘Mi Tierra’ won Estefan her first Grammy in 1993 for Best Tropical Latin Album.

Ricky Martin, ‘Vuelve’ (1998)

This album changed Latin American pop history and introduced new sounds to the rest of the world. ‘Vuelve’ gave a new twist to Martin’s career, which gained worldwide fame thanks to the song “La Copa de la Vida,” which would become the World Cup anthem that same year.

Daddy Yankee, ‘Barrio Fino’ (2004)

Although at the time it was not the most popular musical genre in Latin America, Puerto Rican singer Daddy Yankee would change that forever when he released ‘Barrio Fino’ in 2004. Considered the album that made reggaeton a worldwide phenomenon thanks to the success of the song ‘Gasolina‘, ‘Barrio Fino’ remained at the top of the charts for more than 20 weeks.