For J Balvin, what a difference a month — and a pandemic — makes.
In February, the reggaeton superstar was grinding up thisclose to Jennifer Lopez’s famous booty at the Super Bowl halftime show in front of thousands in Miami. But now — even though he’s launching a new album, “Colores,” out Friday — he’s in self-isolation in his Colombian hometown.
“I’m in quarantine right now in Medellín, man,” Balvin, 33, tells The Post over a WhatsApp call from his home. “We’re taking care of each other. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating because you wanna be out there spreading your music all around the world, but I’m positive.”
In fact, Balvin decided not to postpone his album release despite the coronavirus crisis and the limited promotion he’ll be able to do outside of his Instagram. “The environment and the situation might not be the best, but I think this time I’m gonna do it from the heart,” he says. “That’s why I’m dropping the album no matter what. I was like, ‘Let’s bring some joy to the world. Let’s bring some happiness right now.’”
Since making his debut with 2013’s “La Familia,” Balvin — whose J stands for José — has been spreading plenty of hip-swerving happiness with hits such as 2017’s international smash “Mi Gente” (“My People”), winning four Latin Grammys along the way. In 2018, he crossed over to the top of the US pop charts with “I Like It,” his No. 1 single with Cardi B and Bad Bunny, and made a guest appearance during Beyoncé’s epic Coachella takeover to perform their “Mi Gente” remix.
Balvin had another one of those “cultural moments,” bringing Spanish-language music to the US masses, when he opened the 2019 Grammys with Camila Cabello and Ricky Martin. “That’s always been my dream — taking our culture and music in Spanish to another level — and I think we’re doing it,” he says. “I just wanna keep raising the bar and make my people feel proud.”
He certainly did just that when he joined Lopez, Shakira and Bad Bunny for a Super Bowl halftime show that celebrated Latin pride — and murdered the stage. “We found out about it, like, six months before,” says Balvin of his surprise appearance during Lopez’s portion of the show. “It was really hard to keep the secret. J.Lo was amazing. I got a lot of respect for her … her discipline, how humble she is, how real she is. Man, it’s crazy.”
Like the Bronx-born Lopez, Balvin has a local connection: Before his career began, he came to New York to learn English. “I went to Oklahoma first and then, for some reasons, I ended up being in New York, the city that opened up my dreams [to] dream bigger,” says Balvin, who now keeps his US base in Manhattan: “When I’m in the States, I’m in New York.”
Balvin says he titled his new Spanish language album “Colores” (“Colors”) “because it’s about inclusion.” Each track is named after a different color, including new single “Amarillo,” which paints his vision of yellow. “Every color is a different vibe,” says the singer, who plans to release a video for each of the 10 songs on the LP.
Despite the coronavirus’ effect on his album release, Balvin knows well to appreciate life and his success, having survived after a small private plane he was on crashed following takeoff from the Bahamas in 2016. “I’m just grateful, man,” he says. “It was a miracle. We were, like, perfect. Nothing happened, not even one scratch … We’re here for a reason. God wanted me to put some colors in this world.”