J Balvin Recaptures the Reggaetón Crown on 'JOSE'

BY Antoine-Samuel Mauffette AlavoPublished Sep 15, 2021

After years at the top of the Latin music world, J Balvin has become a globally recognised name, collaborating with the likes of Beyoncé, Cardi B and Pharrell and even releasing his own signature Jordan sneaker last year. However, within la industria, it appeared his Puerto Rican protégé Bad Bunny had surpassed him in terms of sales with his own deeply personal, musically experimental projects. With the release of Balvin's fifth solo album, JOSE, he is on a mission to humbly recapture his seat on the throne — and undeniably succeeds.

Over the years, Balvin had developed a successful formula of blending international trends with his trademark reggaetón sound and encapsulating club hits and ballads into a neat conceptual package. With JOSE, he takes a more freehanded approach and puts himself at the forefront of the album's musical direction by carefully curating each song's progression.

Previously, Balvin seemed satisfied to simply be with the times and he is leading the way once more with JOSE. From opening track "F40," Balvin announces the album will be taking more risks by way of a sudden tempo change and the inclusion of a self-aggrandizing speech from Latin trap legend Arcángel. "Una Nota" and "Te Acuerdas de Mí" share the same beat provided by Balvin's implacable production team of Sky Rompiendo and Tainy, but featuring two artists at opposite sides of the Latin music world, the former with newcomer Sech and the latter featuring the announced return of reggaetón veteran Yandel (who boldly asks, "Remember me?").

Where Balvin used to find himself, at times, bested by his flavour-of-the-month features, the Colombian has now taken the reins and holds his own on every collaboration. He sounds more comfortable than ever on the trap-tinged "Billetes de 100," offering a solid contrast to the rugged Myke Towers verse, and he effortlessly outperforms crooner Ozuna on "Pa' Guayarte." Balvin still does what he does best in breaking new artists — such as Tokischa on "Perra" and Maria Bercerra on "Que Mas Pues" — but he proves he can hang with the legends too, like when he provides a sublime sonic setting for the legendary Zion & Lennox on "Si Te Atreves" or on the Skrillex-supported sleeper hit-in-the-making "In Da Getto." 

The album's solo tracks standout including the trance-inducing "Que Locura" and silky ballad "Fantasías." But no reggaetón record would be complete without a posse cut — here, it's the remix of mega-hit "Poblado" featuring heavyweights Karol G and Nicky Jam, now joined by a crew of rising artists. Balvin also pulls off one of the most well-executed Spanish-English duos in recent memory on "Otra Noche Sin Ti" with R&B star Khalid.

JOSE's ambitious 24-song escapade neatly concludes with the genre-bending "UN DIA (ONE DAY," featuring Dua Lipa and Bad Bunny, where Balvin proves to be taking risks the whole way through. With JOSE, J Balvin offers stiff competition to Kanye and Drake's recent 20-plus song efforts with a far more consistent effort.
(Sueños Globales)

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