New York – Colombian rapper J Balvin has had a year to remember.
After sweeping the Premios Lo Nuestro in February and winning top new artist at the Billboard Latin Music awards, the 30-year-old is on track to continue to emerge as one of the most talented and versatile reggaeton artists in the business.
His single “Ginza” broke the record for most views of a Latin music video in the first 24 hours, with over 2 million views. And he capped off the year with a Latin Grammy award for best urban song, beating heavy-hitters like Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, Pitbull and Prince Royce.
“It shows that the sacrifices, the discipline and dreaming are worth it,” Balvin told Fox News Latino at “The Year In Vevo” event in New York City recently. “I always dreamt of releasing a video that immediately broke records. It’s all a blessing and it helps me keep dreaming.”
Balvin began his career at 17 – even moving to the U.S. to learn English. Over the next 10 years, he worked hard to develop a sound that quickly became big in Medellin, Colombia’s urban scene.
“I don’t call it urban music anymore – I call it reggaeton 100 percent,” he told Fox News Latino recently. “The music that I’ve been doing is reggaeton and I feel proud that we are no longer camouflaging it as ‘urban music.’ (My sound) has evolved to a point where I am not looking around to see what will be the influence.”
He said when he started out he would look to see what J King, Don Omar or Wisin y Yandel were doing so he could follow the same path. Now, he’s carving his own.
“Now, it’s not that I don’t respect them, but now I believe more in myself and my sound because it’s coming from my heart,” he said.
But it wasn’t until Balvin announced that he would be cancel a coveteed performance at the Miss USA pageant earlier this summer to protest Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants that his name hit the mainstream.
The performance would have put him in the living rooms of millions of Americans watching the annual show. But he said he could not “in good conscience” take part in anything that would profit the businessman.
Instead of letting the loss of potential exposure faze him, the 30-year-old worked harder to fulfill a promise to his mother: to get his first Grammy trophy.
“(When I started), my mom said to me ‘if you are going to be an artist, then we are going for the Grammy’,” he said. “To receive it was incredible.”
Among the many musical highlights of 2015, Balvin puts collaborating with pop singer Justin Bieber for a Latino remix of “Sorry” among the better ones. He said working with the Canadian singer was very “natural” and not something that came from the studio heads.
“Music is a universal language. Even if you don’t know what the lyrics are saying, you can feel the music,” he said. “Working with Justin was a dream come true because we fought so hard and worked so hard that when it happened, it was so natural.”
Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.
Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang