Colombian recording artist J Balvin (Jose Alvaro Osario Balvin) has become one of the most popular artists in the world in his short career, and his story is unlike many musicians in the modern era of music. Born to a wealthy family in Medellin, Columbia, Balvin’s life quickly changed when his family lost it all, and were forced to move to a poorer area of the city. Though somewhat ostracized by both his rich and poor peers, Balvin claims he never felt out of place.
During a brief stint as a foreign exchange student in Oklahoma at the age of seventeen, Balvin was disappointed with his experiences in the United States, despite most of his musical influences, such as Nirvana and Metallica hailing from the U.S. Balvin noted that his experiences in the U.S. were nothing like what he expected from watching Hollywood versions of the country on TV growing up. Balvin moved to New York for a short time before deciding to return to Colombia, making him a certified TCK.
It was on his returning voyage that Balvin decided to make a career out of music after studying business in his home city. He would soon be playing reggaeton in the urban clubs of Medellin. It was here that he adopted his now well-known stage name, J Balvin “El Negocio” (The Business).
Since that time, Balvin has been nominated for countless Latin music awards by BET, Billboard, iHeartRadio, and the Grammy’s, and earned the opportunity to work with many notable artists in the United States. Despite this, Balvin has been adamant about only recording his songs in Spanish, due to his large sense of Latin pride. though he is politally outspoken about issues facing his home country, Balvin also refuses to sing about many of the violent issues facing Colombia, for fear it may spread harmful stereotypes about the country and its people. Balvin has noted that he didn’t want to become a successful recording artist by recording songs in English to appease the American musical tradition, though he has since warmed up to the idea.
In his short career, Balvin’s popularity has made him the second most streamed artist on Spotify, behind Canadian rapper and singer Drake. Many people have compared Balvin to Drake, calling him the “Drake of reggaeton,” to which Balvin firmly agrees. Balvin has also been compared to other notable artists such as Eminem, due to his unique fashion sense.
Despite his major success, Balvin suffers from frequent panic attacks due to anxiety. This may be in part because of the many drastic life changes he has experienced growing up as a TCK, combined with the pressures of being a major musician.
Despite all the negative experiences he has endured during his life as a TCK pop star, J Balvin has truly become a major influential figure in the modern music industry because of his strong Colombian roots and unique style.