Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin has become a worldwide sensation thanks to crossover hits like “Ginza”, “Mi Gente” and “I Like It”.
Who is J Balvin?
Hailing from Medellín, Colombia, J Balvin began developing his brand of reggaeton music in the early 2000s. International success followed the release of tracks like “Ay Vamos”, “Ginza” and “Mi Gente”, while slick albums like “Energia” (2016), “Vibras” (2018) and “Colores” (2020) showed his creativity as an artist. The multiple Latin Grammy winner has also established himself as a fashion icon while being open about his battles with depression.
How old is J Balvin?
José Álvaro Osorio Balvin was born on May 7, 1985, in Medellín, Colombia, to parents José Álvaro Osorio and Alba Mery Balvin.
Childhood and musical beginnings
Along with his younger sister, Carolina, J Balvin grew up in a spacious home in the affluent neighborhood of Belén-Malibú. Influenced by American hard rock bands like Nirvana and Metallica, he started playing guitar in his rock band at the age of 11.
In a few years, the company of the eldest José goes bankrupt. The family moved to a smaller house in a less exclusive neighborhood, and Balvin resorted to selling items like chewing gum and school clothes to earn money.
At 18, Balvin joined an English exchange program that brought him to a small town in Oklahoma and left him isolated. When his host confiscated his passport and cut off access to his family and friends, Balvin escaped and went to live with an aunt in Staten Island, New York. There, he temporarily earns a living by walking dogs and immerses himself in street hip-hop culture.
Back in Medellín, Balvin began taking college courses in international business and communications, but dropped out after realizing he was more interested in music.
Turned to reggaeton by the international success of Daddy Yankee, Balvin sought to put his spin on the dancehall and hip-hop inspired musical form that was exploding in Puerto Rico. He partnered with producers at Infinity Music and garnered interest in his recorded tracks through frequent touring and aggressive social media efforts.
By 2009, Balvin had enough fans to land a recording contract with EMI Colombia. The label soon re-released one of its mixtapes – “Real” – and Balvin began to gain significant radio time with singles like “Ella Me Cautivó”, “Sin Compromiso”, and “En Lo Oscuro”. In 2011, the rising artist scored four wins at the Premios Nuestra Tierra, a major Colombian music awards show.
Albums and Songs
J Balvin tasted international success in 2012 when “Yo Te Lo Dije” and “Tranquila” began charting in the United States. He then delivered the Billboard Latin Music Award-winning single “6 AM” just ahead of the October 2013 debut of “La Familia,” his debut album with Universal Music’s Capitol Latin label. The following year saw the release of “La Familia B Sides” and “Ay Vamos”, which became the first urban Latin song to rack up 1 billion views on YouTube.
The momentum continued with the release of “Ginza” in the summer of 2015, which topped the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart for a record 22 weeks. Balvin next appeared on the Latin remix of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” while his collaboration with Pharrell Williams and Bia on “Safari” helped the reggaeton artist’s 2016 album “Energia” win a Latin Grammy for Best urban music album.
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Balvin’s ambitions for global recognition were fully realized with his summer 2017 hit “Mi Gente”, as well as the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20. The track spurred an even more popular remix featuring a singing Beyoncé in Spanish. The accompanying album, 2018’s “Vibras,” won a second consecutive Latin Grammy for Best Urban Music Album. Balvin took another step that year by claiming Spotify’s top spot for global monthly listeners.
After teaming up with Bad Bunny and Cardi B on the 2018 hit “I Like It,” which led to his first Hot 100 chart and Grammy nomination, Balvin joined Bunny for the surprise release of “Oasis” in June. 2019. “Qué Pretendes” and “La Canción” were among the tracks from the album that did well on the Latin charts, while a separate single with the Black Eyed Peas, “Ritmo”, gave Balvin a another Top 10 hit later that year.
After performing alongside Jennifer Lopez on the 2020 Super Bowl LIV halftime show, Balvin released his latest studio album, “Colores.” Along with the revealing cover rendered by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the album featured a color-coded track listing like the understated “Blanco” and the horn-led “Amarillo.” That summer, Balvin unveiled “Agua” for The movie Spongebob Squarepants: The Sponge on the Run before ending the year on a high with a record 13 Latin Grammy nominations.
Balvin’s steady output continued in 2021 with “Jose”, a 24-track album highlighted by “Un Día (One Day)”, featuring Bad Bunny and Dua Lipa, and “Una Nota”, which gave to the singer a record 33rd No 1 hit on the Latin Airplay Chart. He also contributed “Ten Cuidado” to “Pokémon 25: The Album” before teaming up with Ed Sheeran for the joint release of “Sigue” and “Forever My Love” in Spring 2022.
girlfriend and son
Balvin met Argentinian model Valentina Ferrer in 2017 while filming the video for her single “Sigo Extrañándote,” and they went public with their relationship the following year at New York Fashion Week. In June 2021, Ferrer gave birth to their son, Rio, a name Balvin described to Ellen DeGeneres as meaning “Rio, like the river, I want it to float.”
fashion and style
Alongside his chart-topping music, Balvin expresses himself through an eye-catching appearance that includes plenty of tattoos, changing hair colors, and daring fashion choices. That includes the floral outfit and matching face covering he showed off in his Met Gala debut in 2021 and the puffy skirt he donned for the Louis Vuitton Fall 2022 menswear show.
Balvin’s enthusiasm for fashion led to multiple collaborations with clothing retailer GUESS. He also designed sneakers for Nike’s Air Jordan brand and partnered with Miller Lite to launch the BodegaWear collection in summer 2022.
Mental Health and OYE
The singer has been open about his battles with depression and panic attacks since beginning his run as an international star. He says he was able to improve his outlook after finally going to therapy and is managing his condition by meditating, eating mindfully and participating in relaxing activities such as coloring books.
In May 2022, Balvin announced the launch of a bilingual mental wellness app called OYE. Developed with input from its therapist, OYE promises to help users achieve positive results by promoting thinking, expressive movement, and focused listening.
TV shows and movies
Balvin signed on as a coach on season 5 of “La Voz Mexico” in 2016. He also appeared on “The Hollywood Puppet Show” and “Nicky Jam: El Ganador” in 2018 before playing a fictionalized version of himself- even in the FXX series “David” in 2021.
Along with his contributions to the SpongeBob SquarePants movie, Balvin voiced reggaeton singer Tresillo for the 2020 animation. Trolls World Tour. The following year, he was the subject of the Amazon Prime documentary The boy from Medellin.