- Associated Press - Friday, September 15, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - J Balvin has kicked off the U.S. leg of his “Energia Tour” with seven sold-out concerts and the hit “Mi gente” high up on the Spotify and Billboard charts.

The reggaeton star’s “Mi gente” is the third fastest to reach 500 million views in YouTube and already exceeds 746 million since its release this summer, according to Balvin’s label, Universal Music Group. It is in the top five of Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart and is in the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“I am really super grateful. All I can do is thank God and the audience for the blessings they have given me,” Balvin told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview from his native Colombia.

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“I believe this is only the beginning,” he added. “I feel it very deep within me. I am a man of great faith and I believe that I am just starting.”

“Mi gente,” a collaboration with DJ Willy Williams of France, is Balvin’s eighth No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay. It is one of very few Spanish songs that can be heard on the U.S. top 40, and comes right after Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s megahit “Despacito.”

Balvin said dealing with the pressure and temptations of fame hasn’t been a problem for him.

“It’s not hard,” he said firmly. “When you know that these are blessings that not everyone has it lets you be more thankful. Few people have this gift, so we need to behave well.”

Something that he says has helped him stay grounded - surrounding himself with good people.

“Childhood friends, my family, my blood - that helps a lot,” he said. “To a great extent, you should not allow yourself to be swayed much by it, you have to simply enjoy it.”

Balvin’s 18-city tour started Thursday night in Fairfax, Virginia, and includes shows in New York and Los Angeles. Besides the songs on his Latin Grammy winning album “Energía,” he plans to perform recent hits like “Si tu novio te deja sola” and “Bonita,” a collaboration with Jowell & Randy, plus “Mi gente.”

Despite all his success in music and even fashion (he was named the first Latin ambassador of New York Fashion Week: Men earlier this year due to his style,) Balvin sees himself as “a new artist.”

“I always want to learn more about music, about fashion, about all the things that make me happy,” he said. “I am studying.”


Sigal Ratner-Arias is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner




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