The 2018 Billboard Latin Music Awards land on the Strip this week, with the Billboard Latin Music Conference running April 23-26 at the Venetian before the star-studded awards show hits Mandalay Bay Events Center Thursday night for a live broadcast in English and Spanish on Telemundo, Universo and Telemundo Internacional. This year’s show gets a heavy dose of the Vegas treatment—Strip headliners Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin were recently added to a powerhouse lineup of performers that includes Cardi B, Luis Fonsi, J Balvin, Quavo from Migos, Maná, Maluma, Farruko and Nicky Jam.
The ever-widening world of Latin music comes to take over Las Vegas several times a year now, and when a holiday weekend or awards show like the Billboards or Latin Grammys arrives, these rising and established artists are infiltrating the clubs for afterparties extraordinaire. Exploding Latin trap pioneer Bad Bunny performed for the second time at Drai’s Wednesday night, and after the big Billboard show at Mandalay Bay, its nightlife headquarters Light plays host to Daddy Yankee and Natti Natasha.
Fonsi broke through to the musical mainstream with last summer’s epic “Despacito,” but its ready-for-radio reggaeton beat was also powered by Daddy Yankee, the 41-year-old San Juan-born rapper whose been landing crossover hits since the early aughts. He collaborated with Nas for “The Profecy” in 1997, seven years before his blend of salsa and reggaeton exploded with Barrio Fino and smash single “Gasolina.” Daddy Yankee was awarded the Industry Leader Award during the 2016 Latin Billboard Awards.
At the end of that year, he collaborated with Dominican singer Natti Natasha for “Otra Cosa,” a single that hit No. 1 in her home country. Natasha had already hit the top chart spot in 2012 with “Dutty Love,” a collaboration with Don Omar, the Puerto Rican singer and actor who signed Natasha to his Orfanato label.
Natasha’s single “Criminal” with Ozuna actually dethroned “Despacito” from YouTube’s worldwide top spot on its way to racking up more than 1 billion views. Imagine the energy when two of the top Latin artists in the world join forces at Light Thursday night.
DADDY YANKEE & NATTI NATASHA April 26, 10 p.m., $40-$80. Light, Mandalay Bay, 702-632-4700.