The Artists You Need To Check Out in Medellin

Medellín is known for many things. It’s often called the city of eternal spring, due to its pleasant weather, a heat that doesn’t suffocate, thanks to its location between the mountains. It’s also known for its troubled past, when it hosted one of the biggest drug cartels in history, led by world-famous kingpin Pablo Escobar. But in recent decades, Medellín has been best known for being the world capital of reggaeton, a totally naturalized beat that you feel as soon as you set foot in the beautiful city.

Despite its beginnings in Puerto Rico, reggaeton quickly took root in Medellín. International stars like J Balvin, Maluma, Karol G, and Sebastián Yatra ended up pointing to the Colombian city as the biggest factory of the Latin urban music genre. There’s a generation of producers and composers from Medellín who are barely 30 years old and have already helped define a global sound: Feid, Ovy On The Drums, and, above all, Alejandro Ramírez, aka Sky Rompiendo – Balvin’s frequent partner.


However, beyond the hegemonic business that reggaeton still means today, Medellín stands as a magnet for music in general. In fact, it’s also considered one of the regional capitals of techno and house – that’s right, twerking looks totally natural at a local rave. Medellín is also one of the few places in Colombia where a true hip-hop scene has been consolidated. Just check names like Doble Porción and Alcolirykos.


Medellin is the homeland of an artist who needs no introduction: Juanes. That’s right, one of the biggest names in Latin pop and rock was born and raised in the capital of Antioquia. He even left his mark as a still-teenage guitarist in Ekhymosis, one of the bands – along with Reencarnación and Parabellum – that rocked the local metal scene of the late ‘80s.


There’s also a nostalgic air in Medellín, probably because it was once one of the epicenters of salsa, cumbia and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms. Actually, with some luck, you might catch a show by Fruko y sus Tesos, a mythical Colombian salsa big band founded in 1970 that featured singers like Joe Arroyo and Piper Pimienta. This orchestra is still led by maestro Julio Ernesto Estrada Rincón, aka Fruko.


Sr. Pablo

Juan Pablo Rodriguez, aka Sr. Pablo, is one of the key names of this new wave of hip-hop from Medellín, popularly called “rap medallo” – or “mountain rap”, given the geography of the place. He grew up between the neighborhoods of San Javier, Comuna 13 in Medellín, and the nearby coffee plantations of Caicedo, Antioquia. In 2016, he burst onto the scene with his first album Aspectos. Then he released the single “Trigo”, to show his attachment to the countryside and rural life. And in 2019 he released his second album Levitar. Pablo’s rap flows like a smooth skate, whether it’s on dembow tracks or funky rhythms.


Crudo Means Raw

Fernando Bustamante, better known by his stage name Crudo Means Raw, has become one of the best rappers and producers in the country. The son of Colombian parents who emigrated to the US to work, he was born in New York and moved with his mother to Medellín when he was 5 years old. Crudo began his career in 2010, first standing out as a beatmaker, and then venturing as an MC on his debut album Todos Tienen Que Comer in 2016. His single “La Mitad de la Mitad” peaked at number one on Spotify Colombia’s top songs chart in 2018, as a preview of his 2020 follow-up album, Esmeraldas.



This trio already has enough experience and talent to be at the top of rap in Spanish in recent years. Formed in 2005 in Aranjuez, Comuna 4 in Medellín, Alcolirykoz is made up of cousins ​​MCs Gambeta and Kaztro, along with their neighbor and DJ Fazeta. They already have seven albums to date, including their most recent acclaimed release, 2021’s Aranjuez – an ode to the neighborhood they came from. Gambeta is also known by his producer alias El Arkeólogo, responsible for giving the group a sound leap back in 2017 when they chose not to rely so much on samples and record everything the song needs.


Mr. Bleat

Together since 2007, Sara Rodas, Pablo Ángel and Alejandro Bernal have been giving ample proof that their synth-pop made in Medellín can be a musical bridge that expands not only to the rest of the country but also to America and Europe. Since their debut EP Mr. Disco in 2010 they’ve been releasing to date a string of short, medium and long-duration records. Mr. Bleat is also credited with amazing video clips like “Búho” and adventurous collaborations like “Todo Pasa” with Dawer x Damper. They usually play at Bogotá festivals such as Rock al Parque and Estéreo Picnic, but they’ve also performed at SXSW.


Dany F

Dany was born in Medellín almost 30 years ago and has spent more than a decade uploading multicolored music on the net (go check out his Bandcamp for a good dive). His thing is to mix indie electronica with the tropical rhythms of Colombia, such as cumbia and champeta. Actually, he has a bunch of records fully dedicated to this cocktail mission: The Champetraxx Collection (2013), Cumbia Bonita (2015) and Tropical State of Mind (2016), among others. In 2019, he teamed up with the romantic singer-songwriter Pavlo to release the single “Yo Sé Que No”, a dreamy electro-pop gem with dembow futuristic twerking.


Margarita Siempre Viva

Indie rock enthusiasts have nothing to worry about with the appearance of a band like Margarita Siempre Viva. Formed in 2016 in Bello, a town north of Medellín, they soon became the great revelation of the Colombian alternative scene. Their songs of youthful melancholy in a lo-fi format have all the ingredients of the best indie recipe: echoing guitars, precise basses, concise rhythms, deep voices, and somewhat somber lyrics. Yes, they’re strange guys in the realms of reggaeton, hip-hop, and electronica. However, even so, they also have something that makes them unique and typical of their land.