The Bonding Behind J Balvin and Bad Bunny's 'OASIS'

Stillz
J Balvin and Bad Bunny

Major collaborative albums are a rarity in Latin music, so when rumors swirled for over a year about a Balvin-Bad Bunny joint release, it started to feel like an urban legend.

As it turned out, the two superstars (born José Álvaro Osorio Balvin and Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, respectively) had been discussing a possible project for almost two years, and in June they surprise-dropped the eight-song OASIS on Universal Music Latin, Balvin’s label. It bowed at No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart and earned both artists their first top 10 on the Billboard 200, where it entered at No. 9.

Calling from New York (Balvin) and Miami (Bad Bunny) on different days, the pair recalled how, in the end, they made it all happen in just a few weeks.

 

Bad Bunny: It was completely natural. We have good chemistry.

J Balvin: In many ways, Benito and I share an aesthetic and originality. When he appeared on the scene, he brought a fresh perspective. I felt like the only crazy one there! It’s very hard for a label to bring two artists together like this. It has to come from a place of respect.

Bad Bunny: We each came with our own ideas, but it took us just three weeks to record together.

 

Bad Bunny: I liked to interrupt him and challenge him. I would bug him and tell him he was too slow. (Laughs.) Really, everything was cool.

Balvin: It was all about teamwork. There’s trust, there’s faith in each other. If anything, the creative process was very quick and very efficient. Each of us brings a different color, and we complement each other.

Bad Bunny: Nothing was complicated. We each gave our opinion, and that was it.

 

Bad Bunny: From José, I learned discipline, in and out of the recording booth. He always wakes up early. When he goes to work, it’s work. He doesn’t go into the studio to joke around. It’s no wonder he has gotten so far in life.

Balvin: I also learned discipline from Benito. He comes to do what he has to do, and he composes very quickly. Above all, he knows what he wants. And that makes it easier. And he likes basketball a lot, and now I’m a fan.

Bad Bunny: He eats very healthy and only at certain times. I’m a terrible eater. That’s why I’m chubby.

Balvin: The same, but the opposite. I would love to eat hamburgers, French fries, like he does, but the results wouldn’t be positive. And he’s a total night owl. The opposite of me.

 

Bad Bunny: I think I’m more aggressive. I’m the evil side, so to speak. If you have to choose a good one and a bad one, I’m the bad one. Balvin’s style is more relaxed. But that mix is what makes it work.

Balvin: When it comes to rapping, he’s far more staccato, and his voice is deeper. That’s his stamp. My raps have a lot of attitude, but they don’t sound like Bad Bunny.

Bad Bunny: We were both in the studio doing our thing creatively. No one interfered. Doing all duets might sound complicated, but it depends on the artists, on the egos. José is clear, and he takes suggestions. And I do, too. José said yes to everything I brought to the table.

Balvin: This album broke many paradigms. It’s a big statement. It’s Medellín, Colombia, next to Santurce, Puerto Rico. It’s an album that showcases tolerance and unity and a vision for the culture.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 21 issue of Billboard.

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