Back in 2009, Colombian reggaetonero J Balvin wasn’t chilling with Kanye West or Justin Bieber; he was still hustling his music on Telemundo’s afternoon programming. This vintage clip shows 23-year-old Balvin promoting Real, his first studio release, on the network’s infamous Descontrol, a program that branded itself as a sort of Latino Soul Train, but was really just an excuse to slap a bunch of pale, skinny women on screen for Latinos to gawk at.
Baby Balvin sings his heart out in an awkward striped polo. It’s pretty heartwarming – you can see the nerves and ambition in his eyes as he sings to “Ella Me Cautivó,” his first single. He croons in obligatory late 2000s auto-tune over a pop-dancehall number, but aside from the foray into dancehall, some of the performance should be familiar to Balvin fans – his signature drops (“J Balvin, man” and “El negocio, socio”) are there.
Watching this clip is a bit of a time warp, now that Balvin is collaborating with mainstream Anglo artists. But it evinces how far the reggaetonero has come, and the pop innovation he has brought to the table from Day 1.
P.S.: Shout out to the thirsty dancer at 3:10 and 8:27. WE SEE YOU.
P.P.S.: This. photo.