Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

J Balvin ft. Willy William – Mi Gente



Thomas Inskeep: So, Colombian superstar J Balvin basically took French artist Willy William’s “Voodoo Song”, played with a bit, laid a new set of lyrics on top of it, gave William label credit, and boom! It’s an international hit. I’ve gotta say, it sounds like nothing quite else out there right now, with elements of reggaeton, moombahton, and African music, with lyrics in both Spanish and French. This is as truly global as pop gets.

Ryo Miyauchi: A re-fix of his own “Voodoo Song” as a club-pop banger was a right decision by Willy William that fulfills the song’s promise. He also finds a kindred spirit for the hypnotic loop in J Balvin, a well-familiar voice of chill who helps the producer-singer realize what the song needs is less, not more.

Juana Giaimo: On his website, J. Balvin said that “Mi Gente” aims to represent “a new sound that is rising in Latin music and that is being accepted worldwide.” He is probably referring to how the reggaeton beat is now used in the most famous Anglo singles and of course “Despacito.” But, as it often happens, now that J. Balvin is trying too hard, he sounds weaker. His music so far was all about being light and smooth, but this is exactly the opposite. The drop that repeats throughout the whole song is almost unbearable, and Willy Williams’ verse doesn’t offer any of the passion (neither in the monotonous vocals nor in the lyrics) that you could expect from a song with such a high aim. Not even J. Balvin can shine as he has this year in other singles — his lyrics are empty chattering about making people dance, and he has never sounded so out of his comfort zone as he does in the chorus.

Alfred Soto: Irrational disgust is as valid a lens through which to trash music, so allow my irrational disgust with that squeaky horn motif to corrupt my responses to “Mi Gente.”

Ramzi Awn: A welcome hook that doesn’t hold back, “Mi Gente” marries a lively beat with vocals served best on the dance floor. The track’s success lies in its smooth simplicity.  

Josh Langhoff: In the “top 40 bangers featuring guest singers faking their way through Spanish verses” sweepstakes, “Mi Gente” handily trounces El Canción Del Verano, thanks to a creepy hook snapped from William’s “Voodoo Song” and 75 percent fewer chords. (If you get around to it, the French “Voodoo” has a helium-voiced dance commander with more personality than J Balvin.) Despite its ambitions, no way this song’ll unite the gente like the gregarious Biebercito has. But “Mi Gente” still calls to a good portion of us, the ones who enjoy beat-stopping shouts of “Freeze!” and Pitbullish whoops mixed in with our spookiness.

Peter Ryan: It’ll be something if the search for the next “Despacito” ends up being J Balvin’s ticket to notoriety in English-language markets, given he’s been trying to get Bieber to record in Spanish for so long (and subsequently ribbing his pronunciation); regardless, the takes are proliferating. Fitting then that this is also a rework and that the interloper stays basically unnecessary. Balvin’s delivery works fine on tracks designed around it, but he can’t bring the energy to make this the partystarter it wants to be; William’s track — more specifically that incessant riff — is pulling most of the weight. There’s nothing really wrong with it, and maybe if it becomes ubiquitous I’ll come around more.

Cassy Gress: The braying riff’s kind of annoying, and J Balvin is muttering this to himself while reading a newspaper, but man, once that bass kicks in, there is no stopping my ass from shaking.

Stephen Eisermann: I remember when reggaeton was first crossing over to Mexico and then, inevitably, San Diego. I was stoked — the beats made me want to dance and the lyrics often had a blend of my native tongue (Spanish) and the language I use most frequently (English). Recently, I began to look at the success of reggaeton and try to understand how it became so popular in a country that is so divided. And this song says it better than I ever could — music doesn’t (inherently, but that’s another topic) discriminate. J Balvin tells listeners if the music makes you move, you’re my people and my music won’t discriminate against you. It’s a beautiful message that Willy furthers by saying that the party (reggaeton’s success) isn’t ending but just starting — a very interesting and relevant metaphor to use when discussing this type of music. There’s even three different languages in this song. But the best part of this is how goddamn hot that beat is. J Balvin and Willy need to stay working together because I can’t not move during the song. Let’s just enjoy a good, multi-lingual, multi-cultural record on the radio while we still can.

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One Response to “J Balvin ft. Willy William – Mi Gente”

  1. so now there’s a beyonce remix of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APHgDFRpCi0