J. Balvin’s Quest to ‘Elevate the Culture’

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José Álvaro Osorio Balvín — better known to the world as J. Balvin — is an ambassador of “El Movimiento,” or the Latin “Urban” Movement, with musical roots in Panama, New York, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic — and now Colombia. In an endearing conversation over-the-phone, Balvin is full of voracity that emphasizes his desire to “elevate the culture,” as he puts it. “We’re all global citizens. We’re human, period. Music is a universal language.”

While Balvin says he’s dedicated to “putting Reggaeton on the map,” and his attempts have no doubt been fruitful with much acclaim, the international star also admits he doesn’t always get everything right.

In 2021, Reggaeton is more mainstream than ever and, over the past decade, Balvin has made himself an integral part of that process. From being the first artist to create a stage for Latin music in Las Vegas with NEON festival, to being the first Reggaeton artist to headline Lollapalooza and even feature a surprise performance with Puerto Rican superstars Wisin Y Yandel, Balvin’s legacy has become adapting to increase visibility as he continues to shine on bigger platforms.

On Jose, the artist combined that doctrine with careful consideration of the collaborators he onboarded, exemplifying how Balvin has an eloquent talent for curation. “Once you’re doing the right thing, we’ll find you,” he says, speaking about the industry’s deliberate exclusion of Negras or Black women in this genre — a gesture that Balvin explains he will emphasize at an even larger scale now that he is taking the steps to educate himself better.