When Jimmy Fallon jumped on stage of “The Tonight Show” Wednesday to show off his best “X” dance moves, many viewers tuning in were probably asking themselves, “Who are those guys dancing with Jimmy and what are they saying?”
To which their kids would have probably quickly responded, “Really, mom? as they sang along to the all-Spanish lyrics from J Balvin and Nicky Jam, “Y no te voy a negar.”
If you follow popular music, you’ve heard the seemingly sudden burst of infectious reggaetón and Spanish hip-hop beats that have made their way into the mainstream.
And while Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee may have broken the floodgates in terms of the marketability of Spanish-language music in the U.S. with their global smash “Despacito,” right now, there is no bigger ambassador for this growing trend than Colombian-born artist J Balvin.
When he’s not getting down on “The Tonight Show,” he’s turning up the heat alongside Beyoncé at Coachella, or dropping catchy rhymes on Cardi B’s summer earworm, “I Like It.”
What you won’t – or very rarely – see him do is perform in English. Balvin has reached the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart several times and garnered billions of views on multiple streaming platforms performing in his native language.
“Just because you are Latino, does not mean you can’t be global,” Balvin says in an interview with CNN at the premiere of a YouTube produced documentary showcasing his work called, “J Balvin: Redefining Mainstream.”
“They sing my lyrics and don’t speak Spanish, it’s amazing…They don’t understand what I’m saying, but they feel it. They feel the vibe,” Balvin explains in a clip from the short film.
Music is universal, Balvin tells CNN, and staying true to his music means unapologetically embracing his culture and musical origins.
“To know how music came into my life, we have to go back to Colombia,” Balvin says in the film as images from his childhood home in the country’s Medellin region are shown. “I’ve always loved music since I was a little kid. When I was like 12, I remember grabbing a mic, pretending it was a guitar and performing in front of my friends. I didn’t know at the time I wanted to be an artist.”
Balvin says he’s now living his dream, touring the world with his blend of reggaetón, Spanish rap and hip-hop.
“I want to inspire people to follow their own dream, not what the world wants for them,” he says.
And Balvin dreams – and sings – en Español.
CNN’s Natalia Quiñones contributed to this report