Song You Need to Know: J Balvin’s ‘Reggaeton’
The day after he won Best Urban Album at the Latin Grammys, J Balvin released what might be his fiercest single of the year: “Reggaeton,” on which he honors many of the artists from reggaeton’s first wave of crossover over a decade ago.
It helps that Balvin now works regularly with the producer Tainy, who was in the studio when a lot of those crossover reggaeton hits were made. Tainy and Balvin’s other go-to beatmaker, Sky Rompiendo, serve up a scrappy, grabby instrumental built out of little more than a ping-ing guitar loop and characteristically vicious drum programming.
In the recording, Balvin references a previous generation of titans, including Tego Calderón, who had series of Stateside hits between 2003 and 2008, Daddy Yankee, whose “Gasolina” is the first reggaeton single to be nominated for Record of the Year, and the shattering Wisin & Yandel hit “Wiki Wiki” from 2004. In the clip, which looks like it was shot for next to nothing while on tour, Balvin raps while wearing a Daddy Yankee shirt; later, he poses in front of a wall covered with old images from other reggaeton stars, including Don Omar and Zion & Lennox.
This hooky history lesson isn’t just lip-service — Balvin has also collaborated with several of these acts, including Zion & Lennox and Wisin & Yandel. With any luck, many of the artists he mentions in “Reggaeton” will appear on a posse cut remix of the single.
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