J Balvin makes no concessions
J Balvin has been one of the most influential ambassadors of reggaeton—a mixture of hip-hop, Latin American and Caribbean music—since the style originated in Puerto Rico in the late 1990s. In many ways, the 33-year-old native of Medellín, Colombia, has been as popular in the Latin community as contemporaries like Pitbull, Ricky Martin and Shakira, yet only recently has Balvin begun to enjoy significant crossover appeal. The main reason? His refusal to abandon his roots.
Despite being fluent in English, Balvin records and performs almost exclusively in Spanish. Also, he continues to make his home in Medellín, even though relocating to the United States likely would’ve accelerated his career. Such decisions speak to Balvin’s determination to rewrite the script that says Latin artists must conform to crack the mainstream. “I want to invite the mainstream into my world and to my sound and to what I’m doing,” he told The Fader magazine in 2016. “And I want mainstream artists to respect me, and accept Latino artists as equals, without us having to sing in English.” Judging by recent invitations to perform with Beyoncé and Cardi B at Coachella—and his upcoming 27-date U.S. tour this fall—it’s safe to say Balvin’s strategy is working.
Mandalay Bay, 9 p.m. May 27, starting at $59.50 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster