J Balvin is a performer at the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show on Sunday, February 2, 2020. He has pioneered Latin music and will be one of the many LatinX performers at this year’s halftime performance. In fact, The Hill has described this year’s musical lineup as a “win for diversity.” J Balvin has been a leader in bringing Latin music to the world, and his performance at the Super Bowl highlights his influence.
Born on May 7, 1985 in Medellin, Colombia with the name José Álvaro Osorio Balvín, he chose his musical moniker as he emerged as a talent in the New York City music scene. He has credited bands such as Nirvana and Metallica as influencing his musical style and aspirations. He has also said that he was inspired by the business savvy of rappers, particularly Diddy and 50 Cent.
Ultimately, his musical style landed in the realm of Reggaeton with influences from hip hop, R&B, and grunge. With over 35 million followers on Instagram and billions of views on YouTube, there is no doubt that J Balvin is a powerful force upon the world stage. He has used his expansive platform to advocate for social issues and political freedoms, as well as to bring to the world the culture and experience of Latin music.
Here is what you need to know:
1. His Goal Is To Bring Reggaeton To An International Audience
J Balvin has said that he hopes to bring Reggaeton and Latin music to a global audience. However, he wants to do it in his own way. What he means by that is that he wants to truly bring Latin music and culture to the world without having to first prove himself in the American market.
He has paid respect to his Latin music predecessors, naming Shakira and Ricky Martin as influences, while also saying that, “They didn’t live what I’m living right now. They felt that they needed to cross over to get bigger, but I’m going to go the furthest I can in Spanish. And then we’ll see.” And of the international impact he has already had, he has said, “They’re playing our music on the radio in France. I’m not talking about the streets; I’m talking about the charts.”
He has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, including Cardi B, Becky G and Pharrell Williams. He has also worked with Farruko, Nicky Jam, and Sofia Carson. Notably, he was featured on Justin Bieber’s Latin Remix of the hit song “Sorry.” There have been many amazing collaborations in J Balvin’s career, and many more to come in the future!
2. He Was The First Latin Performer To Headline Lollapalooza
In 2019, J Balvin became the first LatinX headliner for Lollapalooza. Although LatinX artists had previously performed at the music festival, a LatinX artist had never headlined. To emphasize the significance of J Balvin’s recognition as a headliner of the Chicago-based music festival, it was noted that he was billed higher than other prominent artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Meek Mill, Janelle Monae, and Lil’ Wayne.
Billboard reported that, “J Balvin headlining Lollapalooza marks a significant moment for Latin music at U.S. festivals. Representation matters: with Balvin becoming a Lollapalooza headliner, the seal has been broken for other Latin artist to follow suit in the future, as well as more international artists to crash the yearly lineup in general.” And to break that seal, the headlining set was opened with a Reggaeton song, setting the vibe for the rest of the performance.
J Balvin’s headlining performance was compared to Beyonce’s performance at Coachella in terms of the impact it had. CNN reported that, “Like Beyonce was for Coachella, J Balvin’s performance will show that (Lolapalooza) finally recognizes there’s a large audience in the United States not only for reggaeton but for Spanish-language music.”
3. He Is An Advocate For Mental Health Awareness
J Balvin has experienced depression and anxiety, and he has spoken openly about his battle with mental health. Particularly, he has been honest about how his immense success has not excluded him from experiencing mental health struggles.
Of J Balvin’s honesty about his mental health diagnoses, online outlet Remezcla recently reported that, “In past concerts and social media posts, Balvin has highlighted the fact that everyone, including artists who are seemingly on top of the world, can struggle with periods of darkness.
During many of his concerts and live events, J Balvin has encouraged fans not to feel alone if they are experiencing mental health struggles. He has advocated for being open about mental health and for accepting the struggles as normal and common, not something to be quiet about or afraid to discuss. He has also offered himself as an example of someone who has recognized that mental health struggles can be difficult to live with, but that one can ultimately overcome whatever it is they are faced with when it comes to their mental health.
4. He Survived A Plane Crash
Nearly four years ago, J Balvin experienced and survived a plane crash. The accident occurred in August 2016, when the small plane J Balvin was on took off from an airport in The Bahamas and then crashed shortly after take off. A statement released about the crash reported that, “There was an incident with a small plane on which J Balvin was departing The Bahamas. J Balvin is OK, sustaining no injuries.”
The Colombian artist survived unscathed, and of his miraculous luck said, “God Protects Me.” As he was coming down from the adrenaline of the crash, he posted videos on his social media documenting his experience and how he felt about it. He posted photos of the crashed plane and the emergency response vehicles that assisted in the recovery efforts.
Some of the pictures he posted on his social media channels were later removed due to controversy. Of the pictures he uploaded, one was of him sitting on the downed plane’s wing with the caption, “We’re safe. God didn’t want us to die today.”
5. He Has Been Politically Active
J Balvin has used his platform to bring awareness to events occuring in his home country of Colombia. He has spoken out about the conflict occurring at the Venezuelan-Colombian border. In 2015, he protested the deportations of Colombian citizens from Venezuela by launching a social media hashtag campaign called “#Latinossomosfamilia.”
When the deportations were at peak occurrence, thousands of Colombians were forced out of their homes on the Venezuelan-Colombian border. During the period of time when the deportations were happening, J Balvin wrote in a statement that, “The situation we’re living at the border is deplorable. The treatment our people are receiving is unfair, especially considering we are one people who share the same country. That’s why today I want to raise my voice in support and invite the entire Latin American people to come together for tolerance and brotherhood.”
He has also been an advocate of LatinX representation of media, especially when it comes to creating a positive shift in how the Latin community is portrayed. Of this goal, he has said, “I want to change the perception about Latinos worldwide. I think people don’t know yet how cool we are. When you see a movie, they always put the Latino on the bad side or in a tacky way. It’s not like that. Latinos are shining like a diamond.”