At a Frank Sinatra-themed restaurant in the lobby of Encore, a luxury hotel and casino on the Vegas strip, Colombian musician J Balvin sat down to discuss his interest in Formula One.
Balvin was the only artist at last month’s Las Vegas Grand Prix to perform twice doing their motorsport weekend — for him, it was an opportunity to participate in a global sport as a global musician. It also allowed him to tease his latest single, the reggaeton track “Amigos,” on the Sphere, the largest LED screen on Earth.
A one point during the week, an ad with a photo number projected on the Sphere read “J Balvin doesn’t need more friends.”
Fans could’ve misinterpreted it as a response to a verse on Bad Bunny’s track “Thunder y Lightning.” On it, the Puerto Rican star says “Ustedes me han visto con los mismo mientras ustedes son amigo de todo el mundo como Balvin.” In English, it translates to “You guys have seen me with the same people while you all are friends with the whole world like Balvin.”
Balvin says “Amigos” has nothing to do with Bad Bunny. “I ain’t got time for that. I got a lot of love for the guy,” he says. “The friend that I know at the time was amazing, you know? So, like, he might he going through something.
“I see him as like a little brother, so it’s like being mad at your little brother, so, like, I’m not going to take it personal.” “Amigos,” he said, “is not a response.”
The reality is that “Amigos” is a return to what Balvin calls “romantic reggaeton,” the music that made his fans fall in love with him in the first place. He says that when he dropped the fiery “Dientes” in September, the ’00s club-inspired Latino urbano track which interpolates Usher’s “Yeah!,” his fans were expecting reggaeton — his “original sound,” as he puts it. Now, he’s given them exactly what they want.
Balvin sings “Fue la culpa de la rutina, de que lo nuestro se jodiera. Yo, tuve que soltarte aunque eso me doliera” on the sentimental single, which translates in English to “It was the fault of routine, that what we had was messed up. I had to let you go enough though it hurt.”
With “Amigos,” J Balvin says he’s “going back to his roots.” Thematically, it is about how “routine can kill the love,” he says — that sometimes a relationship can become more like a friendship, and “the passion is gone, and that is something that happens to everyone.”
“But the fact is, you can also reverse that and make it work once again,” he adds — and he hopes that everyone likes it. “Music doesn’t have a formula. It’s the only business that you drop the product before anyone tastes them. So it’s a risk, but it is part of the game.”