Karol G is breaking in 2021 with one of the biggest collaborations of the Year. The Colombian superstar teamed up with J Balvin and her fiancé, Anuel AA, for “Location.” The trio gives reggaeton a country music makeover in the music video that was released on Feb. 12.
Karol G takes reggaeton on a country music detour.
There’s no denying Karol G’s star power that only grew stronger in 2020. Her last single “Bichota” impressively peaked within the top 10 of Billboard‘s Global 200 chart that pulls streaming data from over 200 countries and territories, including the U.S. To keep the momentum going, she recruited her compatriot J Balvin and Puerto Rican trapero Anuel for “Location.”
Karol G wrote “Location” with J Balvin, Anuel AA, and her longtime producer Ovy on the Drums, who at the helm of this stellar collaboration. Karol finds her groove in the song’s unique blend of reggaeton, Latin trap, and country music. Balvin and Anuel come along for the ride in this perreo-ready hoedown. There was going to be a point where the old town road led to Colombia. Karol dropped a pin on one of the most fun and imaginative moments in reggaeton with “Location.”
It’s a reggaeton hoedown in the “Location” music video.
The music video for “Location” was directed by Colin Tilley, who has shot videos for pop stars like Justin Bieber, Halsey, and Britney Spears. Karol G goes full yee-haw rocking a cowboy hat with her rhinestoned outfit. J Balvin and Anuel also get in on the reggaeton jig in the middle of the desert.
Karol G’s next album is a highly-anticipated release of the year. She’s so far previewed it with the previous hits “Bichota” and “Ay, Dios Mío!”
Since breaking out as a singer-songwriter in 2015 with “Bajo El Agua,” Manuel Medrano has dabbled in many genres. What lies at the core of his songs is a message of love that is powered by his soulful voice. In the past few years, the Colombian musician has worked with J Balvin’s collaborators and funk legend Nile Rodgers. In an interview with Latido Music, Medrano talks about his biggest hits, winning two Latin Grammys, and his new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro De Ti.”
Manuel Medrano was gifted a guitar as a Christmas present after he flunked a year in school.
Medrano became a musician thanks to his parents punishing him with a guitar after he wasn’t doing so great in school. To think that we could’ve been robbed of this great talent from Cartagena if he was given a different Christmas gift.
“I wanted another gift, but they gave me a guitar because I flunked a year in school,” Medrano tells mitú. “It was the best gift of my life. I didn’t know it at the time because I didn’t know how to play guitar or anything about music.”
Manuel won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist in 2016.
In 2015, Medrano would break out of Colombia and onto the international stage with his single “Bajo El Agua.” The guitar-driven ballad was included on his self-titled album a year later that garnered him two Latin Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and for Best Singer-Songwriter Album.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Medrano says about his wins. “I almost fainted. That’s definitely one of the best moments in my life that I’ll always treasure in my heart. [‘Bajo El Agua’] brought me so much happiness because a lot of people in the world connected with that song.”
Despite his love songs, Manuel Medrano admits he’s not a very romantic person.
Medrano is one of the most romantic musicians out there. His songs are either the sweet side of love or the sensual side. I ask him where does that romantic energy comes from.
Medrano laughs and says, “I’m going to be very honest with you, I’m not that romantic. I think it’s the women that inspire me. The beauty of women. It’s everything they make me feel that lets me write romantic music. With love, you can transmit very beautiful things. Not just love between couples, but self-love and love for the world. That’s what can make the world a better place.”
“Mi Otra Mitad” is a bop! It’s hard to believe that some people don’t like it.
Two of Medrano’s sexier songs are “Mi Otra Mitad” and “Buena.” On the former, he’s a smooth operator over an R&B sound. Medrano’s also got the moves in the colorful music video. The departure from the old sound he admits had turned off some of his fans.
“It’s one of my favorite songs right now,” Medrano says. “It’s funny because that’s one of my songs that some people don’t like, but it’s generated a positive impact on an audience that wasn’t familiar with me before.”
In “Buena,” he worked with J Balvin’s frequent collaborators, Feid and Mosty.
In “Buena,” Medrano blended his R&B sound with a Latin trap edge. He worked on that song with fellow Colombian musicians Mosty and Feid, who are the duo behind J Balvin’s early hits like “Ginza.” This is Medrano’s bedroom banger.
“I worked with Mosty and Rafael [Arcaute],” Medrano recalls. “We did a writing session in Medellín. We invited Feid who was nearby in the city. That tremendous song came out. Feid is a huge talent in music for writing. Rafa and Mosty are beasts with producing as well.”
Last year, Manuel Medrano had his “dream” collaboration with Nile Rodgers.
Medrano is also breaking through the Anglo market. While in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked with icon Nile Rodgers for the song “Cielo.” Medrano seamlessly finds his groove in Rodgers’ funky guitar rhythm.
“Mind-blowing!” Medrano exclaims about the experience. “It’s a dream come true that I worked with Nile Rodgers. I admire him. I love his work. It was a little while before I could meet him because we worked from a distance. To me, he’s a phenomenal person with a giant heart. I’ve followed his career since I was young. It was an honor.”
His new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti” is an anthem for everyone.
In April, Medrano returned with his new single “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti.” The message behind the empowering ballad is clear as day: everyone has their light that allows them to shine in their own way. That message Medrano mentions is for every person listening, including his fans in the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s a message of love that’s directed at every person to keep creating a better world,” Medrano says. “It’s a message directed at respect and tolerance for love and friendship. It’s a clear message to all communities. That’s definitively my message with my music. Every time I write a song, I write it with that purpose. That it touches the heart of every person and transforms their lives in a positive way.”
On his next album, Manuel is going to keep experimenting with different sounds.
As for what’s next, Medrano says “Hay Una Luz Dentro de Ti” is the kickoff release for his next album that’s due in the second half of 2021. The album will be 13 new tracks and there will be a documentary covering how it came together. As he works towards live shows pending the pandemic, Medrano promises will be some virtual ones in the future.
“There’s the Manuel that wants to experiment, work with different people, and who wants to learn,” he adds. “Also, there’s the Manuel that people are familiar with from my first album, the singer-songwriter and guitar-player. That Manuel will always be there. Those are going to be the two facets that are present in my albums.”
J Balvin’s new documentary, ‘The Boy From Medellín’, shows the Colombian singer’s rise to fame, his mental health struggles, and how he deals with social responsibility amidst political upheaval in Colombia, and more.
In this up close and personal look into a week in J Balvin’s life, we see the global Reggaeton superstar prepare for the biggest concert of his life in his hometown called ‘El Niño De Medellín‘, the pressures of fame and having a platform amidst Colombia in crisis, and the stark difference between José, the person, and J Balvin, the artist.
Here are the 5 things we learned from watching the documentary.
At the beginning of his career, J Balvin lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant.
Something that perhaps many people are not aware, is that J Balvin lived in the U.S. for a short period of time as an immigrant, hoping that he could make his dream of becoming a singer come true. He would work painting houses during the day and then perform at clubs at night.
J Balvin mentioned in the documentary how during this time period his anxiety and depression were at an all-time high. How the pressures of “making it” got to him, and he felt hopeless for going back home to Medellín empty-handed, with no signs of success in the US.
During a press conference, J Balvin said that his immigrant experience shaped him to never give up.
“Just as I worked illegally in the United States and had to go through many tests, here we continue to fight and work for it,” J Balvin says. “My message is one of struggle, not to give up but to continue insisting.”
The throwback videos in ‘The Boy From Medellín’ show a young José dreaming of the career he now has.
“People from Medellin know that I started from the bottom. It wasn’t luck. It was just heart, sacrifice, hard work, and a big dream. You may love me, you may not love me, but you gotta know I worked hard for it. That’s a fact.”, says J Balvin in the documentary.
While filming The Boy From Medellín in 2019, Colombia was dealing with protests, much as the country is doing currently, and J Balvin had to deal with social responsibility and using his platform.
Once José moved back to Medellín from the US, he started performing anywhere they’d let him: schools, corner stores, malls, anywhere where they had a mic for him. One of his very first radio hits happened with local duo Fainal y Shako called “Una Obra de Arte“.
In the documentary, there’s a full circle moment when J Balvin performs “Una Obra de Arte” and brings Fainal y Shako on stage during the ‘El Niño de Medellín‘ concert.
In November 2019, Colombians took to the streets to protest against the government. As ‘El Niño de Medellín’ concert approached, many concerts and events were being canceled or postponed due to some protests escalating and turning violent, with many people injured and deaths. At the time, many Colombians felt as if J Balvin was just living in a bubble, unaware of what was going on. In fact, The Boy From Medellín shows the “Mi Gente” singer scrolling through his feed, reading what people were saying about him.
One particular comment got to him from local Medellín rappers that felt as if he was “lukewarm” for not speaking up or taking the people’s side. J Balvin felt conflicted as he “didn’t sign up to be a politician”, but still felt compelled to find the right words to say something. In the documentary, we see Balvin change his views on using his platform to voice the opinions of his fellow countrymen, and standing up for what’s right.
In one scene, J Balvin shares a post on his Instagram account of young protestor Dilan Cruz, whose death at the hands of the police sparked outrage around the country. J Balvin’s manager, Scooter Braun, tells him that while it was right to share a tribute for Dilan, J Balvin failed to acknowledge the situation and who was behind Dilan’s death. Braun tells him: “J Balvin has a platform, but José needs to speak”.
During the press conference for the documentary, J Balvin reflected on his social responsibility: “It is still an apprenticeship because we did not choose to enter the world of politics. Our choice was purely musical and entertainment. What happens is that today we have a bigger and more powerful platform than that of any politician. That is when you have to begin to understand the social responsibility that you have as a public figure. It was not easy, it has not been easy, but here we continue to learn.”
J Balvin continues to be open about his mental health struggles with anxiety and depression.
By far, J Balvin has been one of the main stars in the Latin music industry to be completely open about how he deals with anxiety and depression for many years. In ‘The Boy From Medellín‘, we see J Balvin talk openly about his anxiety with his team and family, taking his medication, and we’re even introduced to his spiritual advisor.
Even when it comes to checking his work schedule, José makes time every day to practice meditation and isn’t shy to ask for help or let his people know that he’s not in a good place mentally. Right before the biggest concert of his career, J Balvin made sure to meditate right before taking the stage.
One of the many struggles Balvin faces is separating J Balvin, the artist persona, from José, the human being, but he works hard in trying to find the right balance.
J Balvin’s favorite song is Héctor Lavoe’s “El Cantante“, and it makes so much sense.
J Balvin revealed in ‘The Boy From Medellín‘ that Hector Lavoe’s salsa anthem “El Cantante” is one of his all-time favorite songs because he relates to it so much.
“I was very young when I heard it and I never thought it was going to touch me, that is why it causes me a lot of nostalgia when I listen to it after I have grown up and realize that this message was direct for me and for many.”, J Balvin shared.
The song’s lyrics talk about people coming to see the singer take the stage, but people never wondering how’s that person doing. As an entertainer, J Balvin is aware of what his job entails, but just wishes that people could see him as another human being with feelings, that even with all the fame and money in the world, he also has moments of sadness and defeat.
“I am the singer popular everywhere, But once the show is over, I’m like any other human being”
‘The Boy From Medellín’ premieres on Amazon Prime on May 7th, J Balvin’s birthday.