Residente Explains What Prompted the J Balvin Feud And Predicts What Will Happen If Balvin Responds

After dropping his explosive Bizarrap freestyle targeting J Balvin, Residente said that his feud with Balvin has been brewing for a while and explained the context around his blistering, eight-minute diss track.

In an interview with Rolling Stone en Español on Friday, Residente said that the first time he ever met Balvin, the Colombian singer mocked him for not having bigger hits on Spotify. “The first time that J Balvin met me he started making fun of me, because I didn’t ‘have hits on Spotify.’ I was talking to Daddy Yankee and after that I didn’t say anything. Then, his boycott of the Latin Grammy Awards happened, the thing with the videos, and that was when I uploaded my video,” he says.

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Residente also did a nearly three-hour interview in Spanish with the Puerto Rican radio personality Molusco, and shared that he’s always taken issue with the way Balvin has promoted himself throughout his career, accusing Balvin of leaning on other writers for his songs and “paying” his way through the industry. “You have a guy who you know doesn’t make art, who you know doesn’t write, who you know is not creative, who you know everything has been paid for… But at the same time, he rubs it in everyone’s face, artists who have spent years making art, ‘I’m making history here, there!’,” he said.

He referenced Balvin celebrating the moment when he became the first Latino to headline Governor’s Ball in 2021. “They called [Bad Bunny] first and he said no, and then they called you.” He charged Balvin with being an example of industry payola, and likened his feelings toward artists like him to a major league baseball player working hard alongside an athlete using steroids.

But what took things to the level of a public feud was J Balvin calling on reggaeton artists to boycott the Latin Grammys in 2021. “I care about the people involved in the Grammys. From Colombia, Totó la Momposina, or Susana Baca from Peru or Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, who I mention a lot because they’re friends of mine. They’re people who depend on a Grammy to organize a tour, and this guy who’s already a millionaire… gets involved to try to boycott this,” Residente told Molusco. That’s when Residente uploaded his Instagram video calling Balvin out and comparing him to a hot dog vendor. But the two talked in a conversation brokered by the boxer Canelo Álvarez, and they eventually came to a truce: Balvin asked Residente to delete the Instagram video and said that in return, he’d delete a tweet he’d written related to the situation. “He’s a good negotiator; that’s why he’s gotten where he is with no talent,” Residente said.

But days later, Residente said he found out Balvin had uploaded a photo of himself behind a hot dog cart with the word “suck” graffitied on it (Residente interpreted it to mean “suck it.”) “That’s where it went to hell,” Residente said. He felt Balvin was dredging up the drama they’d agreed to move past in order to get the last laugh. He texted Balvin multiple times to ask him to delete the photo, and when they finally talked by phone, Balvin cracked jokes about how he was going to start a hot dog franchise and become a millionaire.

Residente decided to write the diss track, which was first supposed to drop in December and then on his birthday on February 23rd. When he and Bizarrap recorded it in Los Angeles, somehow Balvin found out—Residente still doesn’t know who told him, but said Balvin’s efforts to stop everything delayed the release. In Residente’s telling, Balvin and his team got managers involved, contacted label heads, and threatened to sue. Residente said Balvin also reached out directly to the 23-year-old Bizarrap and asked him for the track while advising him not to get involved, which Residente saw as Balvin using his power to intimidate a much younger artist. A friend of Balvin’s psychiatrist called Residente directly, to say he was worried about Balvin. 

Residente suggested it was manipulation and a way of weaponizing mental health to get what he wanted; he also claimed that Balvin had used his battles with depression to sell a documentary that he alleges is filled with lies. The running theme in the interview was how Residente felt Balvin was constantly playing dirty to get ahead in the industry. He mentioned that he’d heard Balvin rushed to drop the video for his Tokischa collaboration “Perra” before Rosalía could release “Linda,” a song she’d been planning with Tokischa. “In that time, Rosalía was coming out with her video, and he came and bam! He put his down first, just to fuck around,” Residente said. He added, “He wants to be the first and make history. He’s so stupid that because he wants to make history, he uploaded an award they gave him for being an Afro-Latino when he’s white.”

Residente said he’s not making money from the diss track and is donating proceeds to mental health organizations. He then predicted what might happen if Balvin respond. “It’s gonna be an own-goal, without a doubt” he said. He added later, “My advice to him is to ignore it and keep going in his career and to never mention me in anything and not to keeping joking around about the hot dog thing because people know how all that happened.”

A rep for Balvin did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment, and Balvin hasn’t addressed the track directly. On Saturday, he tweeted “amor y cariño,” which means “love and care.” He also uploaded a series of Instagram videos about his mother being released from the hospital after she suffered complications as a result of COVID-19. He also unfollowed Bad Bunny, a close friend of Residente’s, from Instagram over the weekend.

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