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J Balvin
J Balvin 2019.png
Balvin in 2018
José Álvaro Osorio Balvín

(1985-05-07) 7 May 1985 (age 38)
Medellín, Colombia
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active 2004–present
Partner(s) Valentina Ferrer (2018–present)
Children 1
Musical career
Associated acts

José Álvaro Osorio Balvín (born 7 May 1985), known professionally as J Balvin, is a Colombian singer. He has been referred to as the "Prince of Reggaeton" (from Spanish: "Príncipe del Reggaetón"), and is one of the best-selling Latin artists, with over 35 million records. Balvin was born in Medellín.

Early life

Balvin was born in Medellín on 7 May 1985 into a middle-class family. His father was an economist and business owner, and he grew up in a large home in the hills outside the city. He grew up listening to rock groups such as Metallica and Nirvana. He developed an interest in reggaeton after listening to Daddy Yankee. He recalls that "I was such a fan that I was copying his style, the way he moved onstage, his flows, his raps," comparing him to the reggaeton equivalent of Jay-Z. His father's business went bankrupt, and the family lost their home and car, requiring the family to move to a poorer neighborhood. During this period of his life, Balvin notes, "When I would go to the barrio, people saw me as a rich person, but when I'm around rich people they see me as someone from the ghetto. It's all perceptions. I like moving between worlds. I feel equally comfortable in both."

When Balvin was 16, he participated in an English-exchange program in Oklahoma, but was disappointed by the experience, saying, "I was expecting the U.S. that everyone knows from Hollywood." Soon after the program, he moved to New York City to further study English and music, living with an aunt on Staten Island and working as a dog walker. During his time in New York, he became fascinated by the business savvy of New York rappers 50 Cent and P. Diddy. Balvin worked various jobs in New York, Miami, and Medellín, including working illegally in the United States as a roofer and house painter. He ultimately decided to return to Colombia and began performing at various urban clubs in Medellín and increasing his social media following. He enrolled at the prestigious EAFIT University in Medellín for seven semesters, studying international business. At age 19, he began to seriously pursue a career in music and adopted the stage name J Balvin "El Negocio", meaning "The Business" in English.


He met his DJ and business partner David Rivera Mazo in a freestyle battle on the street in Medellín. The two became fast friends and started producing and promoting their own music without a record label. Balvin's early songs were described as "basically poor imitations of commercial reggaeton from Puerto Rico," but he soon adopted a more relaxed, minimalist style in his music. In 2004, he released his first song titled "Panas". He signed to EMI Colombia in 2009 and soon after released the single "Ella Me Cautivó," which charted at number 35 on the Billboard Tropical Songs chart. He released his reissue of his mixtape, Real, in 2009. In 2012, Balvin released a mixtape featuring many of his early hits in Colombia, including "En Lo Oscuro" and "Como un Animal". His first international hit was the one-night-stand-themed "Yo Te Lo Dije" and signed with Universal subsidiary Capitol Latin a year later.

J Balvin - Sigo Extrañándote - Festival de Viña del Mar 2017 (2)
Balvin performing "Sigo Extrañándote" in Chile in March 2017

Throughout his career, Balvin has won eleven Billboard Latin Music Awards, six Latin Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards and seven Latin American Music Awards and received four Grammy Award nominations. In 2017, the BMI Latin Awards named him the Contemporary Latin Songwriter of the Year for his contribution in the Latin music industry, and has won the first Global Icon Award given by Lo Nuestro Awards, in recognition of his contribution to spread Latin music worldwide. He became the first Latino to headline world-musical events such as Coachella, Tomorrowland, and Lollapalooza. The Guinness World Records acknowledged him as a "leader of a second-generation reggaeton revolution".

J. Balvin Vibras
The cover of Balvin's 2018 album Vibras

His breakthrough came in 2014 with the single "6 AM" featuring Puerto Rican singer Farruko, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart, followed by "Ay Vamos" and "Ginza". In 2016, he released Energia, which included the hit singles "Bobo", "Safari", and "Sigo Extrañándote". In June 2017, Balvin released the single "Mi Gente" with Willy William. On 1 August 2017, "Mi Gente" topped the Global Top 50 on Spotify, and later reached one billion views on YouTube. In January 2018, he released the hit single "Machika" featuring Jeon and Anitta. He collaborated with Cardi B and Bad Bunny on the US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "I Like It", which was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Balvin released his most recent album José in March 2021.

Though his music is primarily reggaeton, Balvin has experimented with a variety of musical genres in his work, including electronica, house music, trap, and R&B. His original musical inspirations included rock groups such as Metallica and Nirvana, and reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee. He has collaborated with Latin American artists such as Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Alejandro Sanz, Bad Bunny and Pitbull. Despite working with many English-speaking artists such as Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Black Eyed Peas, Cardi B, Dua Lipa and Major Lazer, Balvin continues to sing almost exclusively in Spanish, and hopes to introduce Spanish-language music to a global audience. He is also noted for his eclectic and colorful fashion sense.

Balvin received the Vision Award from the Latin heritage Awards in 2016, and in 2019 he won the Golden Artist of Latin Urban Music at the Premios Heat. In 2020 he was included on Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people of the world, and was called one of the Greatest Latin Artists of All Time by Billboard. Balvin is the artist with the most number one songs on the Billboard Latin Airplay chart. He is also the only Latin artist to reach number one on the Billboard charts 174 times.


Musical style and influences

Daddy Yankee - The Kingdom (Official Q & A)
Balvin cites Daddy Yankee (pictured) as his biggest musical influence.

In an interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Balvin stated that he felt encouraged to pursue a career as a reggaeton artist after seeing that Daddy Yankee was of a lighter complexion and not Black, as he had assumed while listening to his music.

Critics have contrasted Balvin's musical style from the first internationally popular wave of reggaeton led by Daddy Yankee. Marlon Bishop of The Fader described his vocal delivery as a "gentle drawl", differing greatly from the rapid-fire, aggressive delivery of earlier reggaeton acts. He generally sings over his beats as opposed to rapping, and favors a more melodic, pop-influenced style. Describing his music's production, Bishop writes, "Instead of the hard-edged, maximalist beats of the first wave, Balvin's tracks are moody and spaced out". He frequently works with Medellín-based writer/producers Alejandro "Sky" Ramirez and Carlo Alejandro "Mosty" Patiño, whom he often name-drops in his songs. He has been credited with popularizing a new style of reggaeton based in Medellín, along with Maluma and Puerto Ricans who have relocated to the city to become involved in the reggaeton scene, such as Nicky Jam and Farruko.

Though he cites Daddy Yankee as his biggest musical inspiration, Balvin's earliest influences were rock bands such as Metallica and Nirvana, as well as salsa legend Hector Lavoe. He has covered Nirvana's hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in live performances. As a teenager, he listened to hip-hop artists such as 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Onyx. He also cites albums by Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd and Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profética as his "desert island albums". He has also described Ricky Martin as a "teacher" and credited him as an artist who "opened the doors" for him. In 2018, he referenced Martin's hit "Livin' la Vida Loca" on the song "Reggaetón" since Martin "gave as clear a depiction of his actualized artistic dreams".

The singer says his collaboration with Beyoncé on the remix of "Mi Gente" was a crucial step in his career: "I think it was a really good cultural move. People see me with Queen Bey, so they feel that if she's working with me, it's because I'm an important artist. She doesn't work with everyone. All the other collaborations are really helping me to continue to spread the Latin vibe that I want."

Pop singer Camila Cabello has cited Balvin as a musical influence.

Puerto Rican rapper Residente has criticized Balvin's musicianship. In a viral video post, he explained: “I have to admit from my heart that you have a talent, you have the talent of not having talent and make people believe that you do.” The remarks came after Balvin called for a boycott of the 2021 Latin Grammys due to the alleged lack of nominations for urban music artists. Colombian artist Lido Pimienta has also argued that Balvin is more of an entertainer than an artist. Balvin has also been accused of cultural appropriation, which noted reggaeton historian Katelina Eccleston references in an interview for Paper Mag, specifically the song, "In Da Getto." According to Eccleston, "This track highlights the issue of Black Latinos being spoken for without consideration of their plight."


J Balvin - 6 AM - Festival de Viña del Mar 2017 (1)
Balvin is noted for his eccentric style, often wearing bright colors and dyeing his hair.

Balvin has called fashion "his life's passion, on the same level as music." He appeared as an ambassador during the 2017 New York Fashion Week, and has called for greater representation of Latinos in the fashion world. He utilizes eccentric accessories such as cowboy hats, colorful tracksuits, and ripped jeans. Isabela Raygoza described his aesthetic at the 2017 Latin Grammys as a "Latin raver Eminem" due to his neon blonde hair and brightly colored athletic clothing. His style often combines streetwear traditionally associated with reggaeton artists and classic luxury brands. Balvin is influenced by musicians such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams who have made forays into fashion. Discussing Pharrell's influence, Balvin explained, "I don't dress exactly like him, but I want to be like him in the cultural way. He opens the doors for a lot of new fashion designers and creates his own style. It's all about love with him and he's the culture."

The musician appeared in Ovadia and Sons' Spring 2017 catalogue. He debuted pieces that he designed in the Colombiamoda Fashion Week show in Medellín in July 2018, where he presented his collaboration with the clothing brand Gef France. The collection was inspired by the colorful, bright aesthetic of his 2018 album, Vibras. While at Coachella festival in 2018, he met avant-garde stylist, designer and techno DJ Sita Abellán, who took him on as her sole styling client. In January 2019 Balvin launched another Vibras-inspired clothing campaign with the Guess x J Balvin clothing collection, becoming the first Latin man to collaborate with the brand. Balvin explained that he "grew up with the Guess brand" and "always respected and identified with the Marciano brothers' history of taking influence from the country and culture of their heritage, and fusing it with the spirit of the United States". In Spring 2020, Balvin co-curated 'GUESS x J Balvin Colores', with stylist Sita Abellán.

He was also the first Latin artist to be awarded the best stylist of the year by the J Balvin FNAA awards. however, since 2016, Balvin has been called the "style icon of reggaetón music" in Latin America, thanks to his hairstyles, dressing and different fashion ideas in the reggaetón genre. because no reggaetón artist has ever been ambitious and fashion-conscious before balvin. Collaborating with Nike in 2020, Balvin became the first Latin artist to collaborate with Nike. however, the shoe he designed was sold out within 1 minute, breaking the sales record on the official Nike website. Balvin, who later participated in events such as the Met gala and Paris fashion week. In 2022, he collaborated with Guess again and released a new collection called Amor. This new collaboration, which appeared in countries such as the United States, Japan and Italy, was highly appreciated. Balvin will receive the international style icon award at the ACE awards in August 2022.

Building on his partnership with Nike, Balvin looks to release his Air Jordan 2 collaboration sneaker in 2022 along with new apparel pieces from this forthcoming capsule. The Colombian crooner’s AJ 2 is expected to be embellished in cloud-like patterns, and its matching sweatsuit is designed to mimic the same motif.

Personal life

Lesin valencia junto j balvin (cropped)
Balvin in 2014

Balvin has spoken out about the Venezuelan economic crisis and the situation occurring at the country's border with Colombia, where thousands of Venezuelans have been forcibly deported. He called the situation "deplorable" and created the social media campaign #LatinosSomosFamilia (We Latinos are Family), encouraging fans to sign a petition to support the displaced victims. The petition was soon signed by other prominent Latin artists including Colombian singer Maluma. Balvin's campaign was launched shortly after cancelling his performance on Miss USA 2015 in protest of Donald Trump.

He supports LGBT rights, explaining "It's all about love. A lot of my closest friends are gay", and dyed his hair rainbow colors to show support for Pride 2019.

In August 2016, the singer was involved in a plane crash while leaving the Bahamas. While returning from a vacation with his family, the plane failed to take off properly and crash landed shortly after departing from the runway. He posted a photo on Instagram of the small private plane after having landed in the bushes. Nobody was injured in the accident, and Balvin called it "a miracle".

Balvin has experienced panic attacks and stated that "meditation saved [his] life". When his anxiety was at its worst, he recalled that "I forgot about my happiness. I forgot about José (his given name)." He is known for his tattoos and got his first tattoo when he was twelve years old. His mother suffers from the rare genetic condition acute intermittent porphyria, which causes seizures, chronic pain, and mental health difficulties. He has the word "Familia" tattooed on his chest in her honor.

Unlike many popular reggaeton singers who move to the United States upon gaining popularity, Balvin continues to live in his hometown of Medellín, explaining, "It keeps me real. I'm gonna be real everywhere I go, but I'm with my people, I'm connected to my roots – I'm in my country! I don't need to live somewhere else. I respect the ones who make it and leave their home base, but I'm good in Colombia." He declared he has a home in New York, but he lives mostly in Medellín.

In 2020, it was revealed that Balvin contracted COVID-19, but he has since recovered.

Since 2018, Balvin has been in a relationship with the Argentine model and Miss Argentina 2014 Valentina Ferrer. On 27 June 2021, the couple's first child, a boy, was born in New York City.


Balvin's global success with his Spanish recordings has been praised by music critics. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) "he has pioneered Latin music's explosion onto the global stage". Billboard described him as "the biggest breakout act Latin music has seen in many years". Nicole Acevedo of NBC News said that although Latin artists such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira achieved crossover success by recording English-language albums, "Balvin is reinventing the way Latin music artists cross over to the U.S. music scene" with musical productions recorded entirely in Spanish. Similarly, August Brown of Los Angeles Times commented that "Balvin's ideas felt like an inevitable future" and is part of a new wave of several Latin artists representing the "future of Latin and global pop where language is less a barrier than a invitation".

Balvin's participation in the reggaeton scene has been noted, a genre previously associated primarily with Puerto Rican and Panamanian artists. He uses reggaeton as a vehicle to "expose ideas, identities" and other social messages, and is "perhaps the genre's most visible star" according to American journalist Jon Caramanica. Elias Leight of Rolling Stone included him along Karol G and Ozuna as "global hit-makers" with reggaeton and trap songs. When Joan Scutia from Mexican Vogue reviewed Balvin's career and success, noted that reggaeton is part of Simon Reynolds' theory about globalization in music: "Nothing is foreign in an internet age". Evan Lamberg, UMPG's president commented: "I consider J Balvin one of the greatest global contemporary songwriters/artists in any genre".

In a general perspective, Sofia Rocher from Guinness World Records stated Balvin became "leader of a second-generation reggaeton revolution propelling Urban music back to the forefront of Latin music worldwide". Univision presented him as "Latin Music's most popular and influential international artist". He was the first Latino to headline world-musical events such as Coachella, Tomorrowland, and Lollapalooza. Iman Amrani from The Guardian felt that Balvin is "now arguably Colombia's biggest cultural export" and described him as example on "how embracing national pride can be a force for cultural good".

Awards and achievements

Noisey Meets J Balvin, 12,45 sec
Trophies received by J Balvin, photographed in 2018

Balvin has won numerous awards and achievements. He became the first recipient of the Global Icon Award given by Lo Nuestro Awards, in recognition of his contribution to spread Latin music worldwide, and the first recipient of the inaugural Contemporary Song of the Year at the BMI Latin Awards with "Ay Vamos". Additionally, he received a Guinness World Records by the most Latin Grammy nominations in a single year, with 13 in 2020. They also recognized his single "Ginza" for the longest stay at number 1 on Hot Latin Songs chart ever by a single artist. Balvin is the second artist with the most number one on Latin Rhythm Airplay, behind only Daddy Yankee as of 2019.

His music videos have billions of views, and had a consecutive record-setting of 100 million views on VEVO with "Tranquila", 6 A.M.", "Ay Vamos" and "Ginza", which marked the most viewed Spanish video debut in history. "Ay Vamos" became the first reggaeton song to exceed one billion views on YouTube. In addition, VEVO named Balvin "most watched Latin artist of 2015" and he became the "most viewed artist on YouTube Global" as of 2019. Balvin has multiple streaming records. "Mi Gente" is the first Spanish-language song to be number one on Spotify's Global Top 50 Chart, and he became the most streamed artist on Spotify as of 2018, overtaking Drake's previous record. He remains in the Top 5 as of April 2020. With his album Colores set a new record with all his songs occupying the Top 10 on Spotify. Additionally, he became the first Latin artist to reach one billion streams on Apple Music. His other achievements include selling 35 million singles worldwide, and having 44,2 billion streams as of 2022, YouTube and Spotify


Studio albums

  • La Familia (2013)
  • Energía (2016)
  • Vibras (2018)
  • Oasis (with Bad Bunny) (2019)
  • Colores (2020)
  • Jose (2021)



  • La Familia Tour (with Becky G) (2015)
  • Energía Tour (2016–2018)
  • Vibras Tour (2018)
  • Arcoiris Tour (2019)


  • The Sun Comes Out World Tour (2011)
  • ... and Love Tour (2014)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: J Balvin para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Notable Hispanic authors
Gustavo Gac-Artigas
Lucia M. Gonzalez
Meg Medina
R. J. Palacio
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