J Balvin: “Just the Beginning for Reggaeton”
Released at the onset of quarantine time, Colores has no doubt provided a soundtrack for the at-home workouts of many, many soccer parents. (They may have even dropped down for a perreo move or two.) In other words, reggaeton has “crossed over,” as they say in the business. And that’s completely fine with Colores’ creator, Medellín’s favorite son, J Balvin. The 34-year-old’s latest album amassed over 1 billion streams across all platforms upon its release, and was omnipresent on media outlets praising its reggaeton purity.
A week before the album came out on March 20, Balvin posed the question to his fans: Should he or shouldn’t he release it in the midst of a global pandemic? His 37 million followers on Instagram resoundingly said, “Release it!”
“I’m super happy that I put out the album,” Balvin says from his home in Colombia. “The truth is [the album] did what had to be done … to give some light and hope to the world. We did with the album what we wanted to do … to give Colores during these gray times.”
Since he released his record-breaking 2017 smash, “Mi Gente,” Balvin has sold out storied venues like Madison Square Garden and become the first Spanish-speaking artist to headline Lollapalooza. In February he performed at Super Bowl LIV alongside Latinx idols Jennifer Lopez and Shakira and his kindred spirit in reggaeton, Bad Bunny. A social video clip, taken by Fabio Acosta, Balvin’s longtime manager, shows the Colombian artist giving JAY-Z a big embrace post-performance — a moment he cherishes to this day.
“Of course he’s influenced me so much,” Balvin says of the iconic artist. “I was celebrating the moment of being a Latino, performing in Spanish at such a huge event. I was super happy that he gave me the opportunity to be present.”
Like the dominant artists before him, Balvin acknowledges the next crop. That was evident in the two rising acts who opened for his 2019 “Arcoiris” tour, Eladio Carrión and Lyanno, and it’s even more apparent in the artists Balvin has signed to his label, Vibras: “Matt Paris, from Bogotá, and a special girl from the Dominican Republic [named] Gabriella,” he says, “they’re both really talented. I know they’re going to succeed and thrive.”
As for now, Balvin is thinking about future collaborations with his close friends — “Nicky Jam is my brother that I love and respect,” he says — and legends Ivy Queen and Tego Calderón. “I would like to … after the quarantine passes, I’ll get in the studio and share good vibes with them,” he says.
Meanwhile, reggaeton’s brightest star and biggest ambassador will continue to wave the perreo flag high. “In five years, reggaeton is going to be much more global and stronger,” he says confidently. “Without a doubt, this is just the beginning.”
Jesús Triviño Alarcón is TIDAL’s senior director for Latin, Global. He is a Webby-nominated content creator who has covered music, TV, film and more for over 15 years as a reporter, editor, producer and curator. His work has been featured at People.com, Latina, Vibe, the New York Daily News, SLAM, XXL, Essence.com and many other outlets.
Image courtesy of Universal Latin.
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