J Balvin (full name José Álvaro Osorio Balvin, shares a birthday with my brother Barry) is a singer who makes…romantic reggaetón? Urban Latin music? Something like that. His songs have that drum machine boom boom tsa boom boom tsa beat, but a) are primarily singing, sans rap and b) are less disgustingly degrading to women than typical reggaetón.
His first release was a mixtape, but it was quickly followed in 2013 by the single “Yo te lo dije,” which gained quite a bit of popularity in the United States. At this time, J Balvin must have had some sort of deal with a French “sparkling liqueur,” because the bottle appears not only in this video, but in at least two others.
It wasn’t until his 2015 album La Familia that J Balvin really hit his mark. With this album, he received 3 Latin Grammy nominations; on the reissue the following year, an additional single received 2 nominations and 1 win. The video for this single, “Ay vamos,” has over 1.25 billion views on Youtube, and a remix version of the song appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Furious 7.
J Balvin’s most recent release was called Energía and features the song for which I know him: “Safari.” The song features Pharrell (you know, the “Happy” guy?), which I totally didn’t realize until a friend recently told me because his Spanish is great, and the super sexy voice of Puerto Rican singer BIA.
Beyond his solo career and personal records, J Balvin has performed on countless songs with other artists, including appearing on several Latin mixes of pop songs that are very popular in the US. Have you heard any of these?
- “Sorry” – Justin Bieber ft. J Balvin (a full verse!)
- “Lean On” – Major Lazer ft. DJ Snake, MØ J Balvin and Farruko
- “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and J Balvin
- “Maps” – Maroon 5 Rumba Whoa Remix ft. J Balvin
- “Problem” – Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea and J Balvin
- “The Way” Spanglish version- Ariana Grande ft. J Balvin (the original version featured Mac Miller)