The Boy from Medellin Grows Up

Thu. May 6, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The Boy from Medellin is the story about mentail health wrapped up in a concert film. Released on Amazon Prime Video on May 7, this documentary is a behind the scenes look at the life of the artist known as J. Balvin. Jose Alvaro Osorio Balvin is a Colombian reggaeton performer who has sold more than 35 million records worldwide.

This movie is an attempt by director Matthew Heineman to depict how unforgettable Balvin's live shows are and at the same time show the toll it leaves on the man in the process. The happy imagery that was onstage headlining at Lollapalooza in Chicago in 2019 now has a new meaning as possibly soothing to someone that battles depression and anxiety.

At a recent press conference for the new film, Balvin seemed blue while sporting new purple hair as he said, "It's really hard in Colombia to make it as a solo artist." He emphasized that he is an artist, not a politcian, but felt cornered by his followers and social media. This is very similar to the Taylor Swift Netflix documentary Miss Americana, where she struggled in the same way to balance superstardom with the trappings that come along with it. Balvin explained, "If you talk it's bad, but if you don't it's bad, too" as he referenced his major platform and responsibilities.

The Boy from Medellin has footage from his his humble beginnings where he fought weight problems, took odd jobs and suffered crippling mental health issues. Meditation and the support of therapists kept him from resorting to drugs and alcohol.

He humbly mentioned that other artists such as Daddy Yankee and Don Omar paved the way for him. He confessed that his career has had "a lot of sacrifice, discipline and patience" over the years. In the documentary he stated that performing in English would feel like a betrayal to his home country of Colombia. This has forced radio stations to adapt to him and his style of music in Spanish. While it was once a trend for Latin artists to sing in English to cross over, now it is completely acceptable for music such as Balvin's to be in the mix in Spanish at Top 40 stations.

This has made him one of the pioneers of the genre, a real rarity in his country. He has embraced the LGBTQIA+ community by dying his hair in rainbows and is not afraid to be vulnerable about his mental state in this moving documentary. Coming from a culture of machismo, it's refreshing to learn that be being himself and revealing his weaknesses, he is actually strong.

Balvin revealed at the press conference that during the pandemic he has had time to make new music. While fans eagerly await the next release from the "Prince of Reggaeton," they have The Boy from Medellin up close on on May 7.