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NPR Arts & Life

Global Hitmaker J Balvin Drops New Song, 'Ahora'

Colombian vocalist J Balvin is still riding the huge wave created by last year's Latin music explosion.

At the stroke of midnight on Sunday night, Balvin surprised his fans by dropping a new song, "Ahora," and an accompanying video. By 10 p.m. ET Monday, the sultry song had generated more than 8 million YouTube views and continued to climb.

J Balvin seems to be a YouTube hit factory.

A little more than a month ago, he released the single and video for "Machika" which currently has accumulated more than 82 million YouTube views and recently went platinum (the equivalent of selling 1 million units).

The two songs are advanced releases from Balvin's next album.

Balvin's sound is part of the second generation of the once rebellious reggaeton, which was characterized by sometimes lurid lyrics. Balvin's distinctly softer version appeals to audiences across cultures, continents and generations as evidenced by his 2017 Spanish-language global hit single "Mi Gente" ("My People").

That crossover appeal has resulted in some fascinating collaborations, including a "Mi Gente" remix featuring Beyoncé, who donated proceeds to last year's Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

While J Balvin finished 2017 with two Latin Grammy nominations (Best Urban Song for "Hey Ma" and Best Urban Fusion/Performance for "Si Tu Novia Te Deja Sola"), he starts 2018 with a whopping 12 Billboard Latin Music Awards nominations. The award show will air April 26 on Telemundo.

There seems to be no stopping J Balvin, whose earliest inspiration was rock before hip-hop and reggaeton. He has mastered the art of what he described to me last summer as"getting the right sound with the right beat and right melodies and right lyrics" to become one of the most significant reggaeton artists of our times.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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