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J Balvin
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J Balvin

Biography
Actor, Musician (1985–)
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Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin became a global sensation by way of 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) showcased his creativity as an artist. The multi-time 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 house in the well-to-do neighborhood of Belén-Malibú. Influenced by hard-rocking American bands like Nirvana and Metallica, he began playing guitar in his rock group at age 11.

Within a few years, the elder José's business went bankrupt. The family moved to a smaller home in a less exclusive district, and Balvin resorted to selling items like chewing gum and clothes at school for extra cash.

At 18, Balvin joined an English-language 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 family and friends, Balvin escaped and went to live with an aunt in Staten Island, New York. There he earned a temporary living by walking dogs and immersed himself in the hip-hop culture of the streets.

Back in Medellín, Balvin began taking college classes in international business and communication but dropped out after realizing he was more interested in making music.

Early Career

Turned on to reggaeton by the international success of Daddy Yankee, Balvin sought to put his spin on the dancehall- and hip-hop-inspired music form that was exploding out of Puerto Rico. He joined forces with the producers of Infinity Music and drummed up interest in his recorded tracks through frequent touring and aggressive social media efforts.

By 2009, Balvin had built enough of a following to land a record deal with EMI Colombia. The label promptly re-released one of his mixtapes—"Real"—and Balvin began earning significant radio play with singles like "Ella Me Cautivó," "Sin Compromiso" and "En Lo Oscuro." In 2011, the rapidly rising artist picked up four wins at the Premios Nuestra Tierra, a prominent Colombian music awards show.

Albums and Songs

'La Familia'

J Balvin enjoyed his taste of 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 before the October 2013 debut of "La Familia," his first album with Universal Music's Capitol Latin label. The following year brought the release of "La Familia B Sides" and "Ay Vamos," which became the first Latin urban song to accumulate 1 billion views on YouTube.

'Energia'

The momentum continued with the summer 2015 release of "Ginza," which topped the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart for a record-setting 22 weeks. Balvin then appeared on the Latino 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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'Vibras'

Balvin's ambitions for global recognition were fully realized with his summer 2017 smash "Mi Gente," along with cracking the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The track spurred an even more popular remix featuring a Spanish-language-singing Beyoncé. The accompanying album, 2018's "Vibras," earned a second straight Latin Grammy for Best Urban Music Album. Balvin achieved another milestone that year by claiming Spotify's top spot for global monthly listeners.

'Oasis'

After teaming up with Bad Bunny and Cardi B on the 2018 hit "I Like It," which led to his first Hot 100 chart-topper and Grammy nomination, Balvin rejoined Bunny for the surprise release of "Oasis" in June 2019. "Qué Pretendes" and "La Canción" were among the album's tracks that fared well on the Latin charts, while a separate single with the Black Eyed Peas, "Ritmo," gave Balvin another Top 10 hit later that year.

'Colores'

After appearing alongside Jennifer Lopez during the 2020 Super Bowl LIV halftime show, Balvin dropped his latest studio album, "Colores." In addition to the eye-opening cover rendered by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the album featured a list of color-coded tracks like the understated "Blanco" and the horn-led "Amarillo." That summer, Balvin unveiled "Agua" for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run before ending the year on a high note with a record-breaking 13 Latin Grammy nominations.

'Jose'

Balvin's steady output continued into 2021 with "Jose," a 24-track album highlighted by "Un Día (One Day)," with Bad Bunny and Dua Lipa, and "Una Nota," which gave the singer a record-setting 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 Argentine model Valentina Ferrer in 2017 while filming the video for his 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 river, I want him to just float."

Fashion and Style

Along with his chart-topping music, Balvin expresses himself through an eye-catching appearance that includes numerous tattoos, changing hair colors and bold fashion choices. That includes the flower-speckled outfit and matching face covering he showed off at his Met Gala debut in 2021 and the puffer skirt he donned for the Louis Vuitton fall 2022 menswear show.

Balvin's enthusiasm for fashion has led to multiple collaborations with the clothing retailer GUESS. He has also designed sneakers for Nike's Air Jordan brand, and teamed 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 the beginning of his run as an international star. He says he was able to improve his outlook after finally seeking out therapy, and he manages his condition by meditating, eating carefully and partaking 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 his therapist, OYE promises to help users achieve positive results by fostering reflection, expressive movements and focused listening.

TV Shows and Films

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 on the FXX series "Dave" in 2021.

Along with his contributions to The SpongeBob Movie, Balvin voiced the reggaeton singer Tresillo for 2020's animated Trolls World Tour. The following year, he was the subject of the Amazon Prime documentary The Boy From Medellín.

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