Reggaeton rides again: Exploring the Latin genre's 'Despacito' second wind
Luis Fonsi / YouTube

Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" became the most streamed song of all-time on July 19 when it crossed 4.6 billion plays across digital formats. A few weeks before that, featured artist Daddy Yankee was Spotify's most streamed artist worldwide. Over a decade after Yankee helped usher reggaeton music into the mainstream, he was back in the game with another smash hit. Instead of taking the honor upon himself, Yankee took it as a win for his "entire genre." With all the right factors in place, reggaeton was ready to ride the top of the charts once again.

Reggaeton music first pierced the public consciousness in 2004 thanks to N.O.R.E.'s Caribbean-crossing anthem heard around the world, "Oye Mi Canto" featuring Nina Sky, Gem Star, Big Mato and Puerto Rico's own Daddy Yankee, which reached No. 14 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. From that breakthrough, Yankee lit fire to the Latin explosion with his party anthem "Gasolina," produced by then go-to team Luny Tunes. That hit allowed fellow rappers like Pitbull, Wisin & Yandel, Don Omar, Ivy Queen, Zion & Lennox and many others to flourish on a global level in its wake.

By the end of the decade, reggaeton music returned to the Latin community after taking a victory lap around the world. Many of the aforementioned acts continued to make music that moved Spanish-speaking audiences, but not really reaching beyond like before. (Pitbull was an exception as he left the genre behind to ride all the pop trends). Some new blood to the reggaeton scene in recent years has reinvigorated interest on a global level. Colombian superstars J Balvin and Maluma embraced more synth-driven influences in their tropical sounds, which resulted in 2015's hypnotic "Ginza" and last year's Shakira-assisted "Chantaje" breaking through the Hot 100 chart. Nicky Jam from the first wave of reggaeton has been hanging in there by keeping up with the times, scoring multiple hits from this year's Fénix album.

Latin artists definitely were the first to notice the resurgence in reggaeton's popularity. Enrique Iglesias worked with Nicky Jam on 2015's "El Perdón" while Thalía, Ricky Martin and Shakira roped-in Maluma for separate collaborations just last year. Last March, the "Fast and Furious" team bumped Britney Spears and Romeo Santos for J Balvin and former Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello on "Hey Ma" for the soundtrack. With tropical house currently permeating the pop airwaves, reggaeton's island vibes had another reason to slide into the mainstream. Fonsi's slinky "Despacito" featuring genre vanguard Daddy Yankee had all the right moves to slowly but surely return reggaeton to pop prominence. The duo reached had already reached No. 44 on the Hot 100 before the Justin Bieber remix put the song over the top around the world, impressively hitting No. 1 on many music charts.

With reggaeton in vogue following "Despacito," more musicians are turning to the genre's superstars for a new direction. For a more grown sound, Becky G recently tapped Bad Bunny on "Mayores" while French DJ Willy William remixed one of his songs with J Balvin under the name "Mi Gente." Jennifer Lopez, Prince Royce, Major Lazer and Los 5 have followed suit on recent collaborations. The current reggaetoneros are reaping success too with Maluma's "Felices Los 4" reaching No. 49 on this week's Hot 100 chart. Reggaeton is making the world move again with Yankee at the forefront.