In a sit-down interview with Complex News’s Speedy Morman for 360 with Speedy Morman. J Balvin – real name José Álvaro Osorio Balvin – opened up about why he can’t say no to pictures with fans, his reaction to Beyonce being a fan of his music, and proving why the influence of Latin music is so significant.
Coming off from the success of his documentary, The Boy from Medellin, where fans get to know and see more of Jose “the person” rather than just J Balvin “the superstar.” Balvin gets even more personal in his interview with Speedy Morman, where no topic was off the table – even the discussion of fatherhood.
While he’s always open and honest when it comes to discussing his struggles with depression and anxiety, with his millions of followers on social media, Balvin has remained tight-lipped when it comes to discussing matters of his personal life. That was until last month when his girlfriend, model Valentina Ferrer, was featured on the cover of Vogue Mexico with J Balvin right behind her as his hands held her baby bump. The private couple had finally announced that the family was growing.
“I’m scared. Like I want to run away.” He jokingly says. “I’m scared because sometimes I feel that I can’t love myself. You know I’m speaking of mental health and things like that you know…I want to give my kid the best of me. When you’re conscious, you know, and I don’t want to transfer my fears to him. The more conscious you are, the more responsibility you have.”
There is no question that Balvin is happy to be a father, but as he told Speedy, his fear is for his child to see and be affected by depression and anxiety – something that Balvin himself has struggled with at times. “I want my kid to be the happiest kid. I don’t want him to be rich. I don’t want him to be an artist. I just want him to be the happiest person alive.” says Balvin.
Making it into the entertainment industry is challenging, and becoming a successful crossover artist without changing languages is tricky. But earning the respect of your fellow peers may have been Balvin’s most difficult task to accomplish yet.
“I knew that we were going to make it. That we were going to make a statement of the Latino culture.” He goes on to say, “The thing that was hard for me was that I wasn’t from Puerto Rico – this was born in Puerto Rico and Panama. It’s like Drake, a guy from Canada, and he’s the biggest hip-hop star here. It’s like the same story. I’m from Colombia, and I’m doing reggaeton. People thought it was a joke; ‘how’s he going to make it? He’s Colombian’. But the more they were saying that I can’t. The more I was saying, ‘I’m gonna shut them up, I’m gonna prove them wrong.’ And now we’re here and I still got a lot of things to prove. I still have people that challenge me and sometimes make me doubt.
In 2018, a whole year before Balvin became the first Latin artist to headline Coachella, Beyonce invited him on stage to perform a remix of his hit song “Mi Gente” from his album VIBRAS. When asked which artist surprised him the most to hear that they were a fan of his music, Beyonce was the first to come to mind.
“Beyonce. Beyonce, of course, was one of the first ones that I was like…They told me, ‘do you know what’s Blue’s (Ivy) favorite song?’ I was like, ‘What?’ and they said ‘Mi Gente.’ I was like, ‘ what are you talking about?’ Like Beyonce’s daughter? no way you know.” He continues, “ And then, you know, just to see The Weeknd, and I remember the first time that The Weeknd DM’d me and was like ‘I can’t stop listening to your album.’ And I’m just like, ‘are you for real! Is this the real Weeknd? Is this Abel? Are you telling me you love my music? You don’t even know what I’m saying.’
He tells Speedy that knowing that more and more rappers – many that he’s admired and grew up with – are listening to his music is something that he still isn’t used to and continues to surprise him to this day.
Always known for his graciousness when it comes to interacting with fans, Balvin tells Speedy, without naming anyone, that it was a negative encounter with a fellow artist years prior that left such an impact that he swore never to do that to any fan of his.
“I know how it feels when you love someone as an artist or as a sports star, and they tell you no,” He says. “When you’re famous, people…they know the character, not the person. Some people are not as nice as you think. I’m not saying I’m the nicest guy. I’m saying I’m a real guy, you know. But since the first day, I was rejected by an artist when he told me no. I was like; I will never want to make someone feel the way I felt. You feel an emptiness in your chest, and it’s like you want to cry. For me, it was because that’s someone that you look up to, someone that you love, that you like. So I just can’t say no to a picture.”
Although he holds no hard feelings, having been dealt a rejection by someone he admired, Balvin knows the impression that leaves on fans and is not something he ever wants to inflict, regardless of however he may be feeling or what he may be going through.
When discussing his documentary, The Boy From Medellin, Speedy told Balvin that he was surprised to learn that the superstar actually reads the comments on his instagram.
“Sometimes I’m stupid.” He said jokingly. “Sometimes I receive the garbage that people have in their hearts, and they throw the garbage to anybody, and I just receive it because it’s their garbage. I shouldn’t; it’s not mine, you know. So I see 200 positive comments, and then there’s that one…and I take it so personally, Bro.”
He relates a single negative comment to being in a concert where everyone else is enjoying their time, but it is that one fan that looks unhappy that he decided to focus on and change their mood.
“I do read my comments. I sometimes answer back,” he says. “Sometimes some say things that I just can not write back because I have a good punch back…so sometimes you know, but I make sure that I wrote really big epic ones.”
For more on J Balvin’s interview with Speedy where he talks about Daddy Yankee, how kindness was his protection in the streets of Colombia and the kind of father he hopes to be for his son. Checkout 360 With Speedy Morman.