Puerto Rican singer Residente has released an eight-minute song that is a scathing attack of Colombian reggaeton star J Balvin. The track marks the latest chapter in the longstanding feud between the internationally acclaimed artists – Residente has won 31 Latin Grammy Awards as a solo artist and with his former band Calle 13, while J Balvin has won five Latin Grammys. It could be considered the harshest takedown of another performer in a Spanish song.
The track, titled Sesión 49 (or Session 49), was recorded in collaboration with the Argentine producer and DJ Bizarrap, and is divided into three chapters: En un lugar de la Mancha (or, Somewhere in La Mancha), Mis armas son mis letras (or My lyrics are my weapons) and El caballero de los espejos (or, The Knight of Mirrors).
In the first part, Resident presents himself as a Don Quixote-like figure who is safeguarding the integrity of urban music. He also makes reference to Balvin – without explicitly naming the Colombian – singing: “Yo no creo en las estrellas de las plataformas digitales. / Ni en tus [premios] billboards de cremita de pastel” or “I don’t believe in digital platform stars / Nor in your cream pie billboard [awards]” – a reference to the Billboard Music Awards.
In the second part, Residente, 44, speaks out against mainstream pop music and the culture of celebrity, with lyrics such as “Estos bobos cantan hasta con el micrófono apagado” or “These idiots even sing with the microphone turned off” and “Una cosa es ser artista, otra cosa es ser famoso” or “It’s one thing to be an artist, another to be famous.”
But is in the third and longest chapter of the song, where Residente launches into his diatribe against J Balvin. This part begins with a conversation, in which Residente is asked by a voice to share his opinion of the Colombian singer. He refuses, there is a three-second pause, then Residente deploys his arsenal of insults against J Balvin. The Puerto Rican singer accuses the 36-year-old of being disingenuous and out-of-touch with the realities of the world. Lyrics include criticism such as “El pueblo luchando, los están matando, y el tipo sube fotos de Gandhi rezando” or “While people are fighting, getting killed, the guy uploads pictures of Gandhi praying” and “No entiende los valores de la vida, se tiene que tatuar la palabra ‘lealtad’ porque se le olvida” or “He doesn’t understand the values of life, he had to tattoo the word ‘loyalty,’ because he forgets it.”
Residente also describes J Balvin as a racist, singing: “Este pendejo es racista y no lo sabe” or “This assehole is racist and doesn’t know it” and “Es un imbécil con tinte de cabello que puso a mujeres negras con cadena de perro en el cuello” or “He’s a hair-dyed imbecile who put dog chains around their necks of Black women” – a reference to J Balvin’s now-deleted music video for Perra, in which the Colombian was seen walking two Black women on dog leashes.
The feud between Resident, whose real name is Rene Perez Joglar, and J Balvin, the artistic name of Jose Alvaro Osorio, dates back to last year when J Balvin called for a boycott of the Latin Grammy Awards. In a message on Twitter, the Colombian artist wrote: “The Grammys don’t value us, but they need us. We give them ratings, but they don’t give us respect. Those with power in the genre shouldn’t go, meaning all of us, because we’re a movement.”
In response, Residente replied: “I would maybe believe the boycott part if you had been a no-show last year when you were nominated 13 times at the [Latin] Grammys. But you didn’t ask for a boycott then. I’m sure you even had a change of clothes for each award. But since you only took home one Grammy out of 13 nominations, now the boycott is back.”
He added: “It’s as if a hot dog cart got offended because he couldn’t earn a Michelin star […] your music is like a hotdog cart. Almost everybody likes it, but when those people want to eat well, they go to a Michelin-starred restaurant.”
Before dropping Sesión 49 on Thursday, Residente shared a video on his Instagram account, in which he accused J Balvin of trying to stop him from releasing the song. In the video, he says: “This message is the least important thing you will hear today. Even less so in the midst of a war that has just broken out [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine], but when you mess with urban influencers [as he pejoratively calls J Balvin] you get this bullshit.”
He continues: “It turns out that this asshole found out that I’m criticizing him, and he hasn’t stopped calling everyone to stop this from coming out. They threatened to sue my label if it was released.”
The video finishes with Residente saying: “The difference between you and me is that I’m free to do whatever the fuck I want, and you’re just another little slave of the industry.”
Now it’s time to wait for J Balvin’s comeback.