The Latin Grammy-winning Colombian artist J Balvin parked a ginormous inflatable spaceship on Coachella’s main stage Sunday night, kicking off an epic reggaeton rave under the stars. 

Balvin opened the festivities with his 2017 moombahton smash, “Mi Gente,” the same song he performed with Beyoncé during her historic Homecoming show — and his Coachella debut. Six years later, Balvin’s catalog has been expanded and blended creatively with different genres, as has reggaeton’s sound. Stationed at the turntables was star producer and reggaeton master Tainy, who integrated spells of house and techno into Balvin’s bass-laden tropical medley.

Will Smith — in character as his iconic Men in Black character, Agent J — made a surprise cameo during Balvin’s set. J Balvin and his dancers, dressed as bright green extraterrestrials, shrugged in sync with Smith in a performance of his 1997 “Men in Black” theme. Smith ended the cosmic boogie by flashing his neuralyzer, a.k.a. the memory-wiping secret gadget seen in the film franchise. (Rolling Stone journalists were somehow impervious to the laser’s effects.)

Will Smith has previously shared that he’s a fan of Balvin’s music, and reggaeton in general: He posted a video of himself jamming to Balvin and Nicky Jam’s “X” back in 2018. Balvin also soundtracked Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Bad Boys for Life with the Black Eyed Peas collab, “Ritmo,” in 2019.

Balvin continued to run through a string of massive hits, from 2015’s “Ginza” to 2018’s “I Like It” — yet sadly, his A-list collaborators Cardi B and Bad Bunny were not in attendance. Yet even in Benito’s absence, the audience seemed ready to belt out every word of the 2019 ballad, “La Canción” with Balvin, who harmonized with his fans in a heartening exchange. Also waiting in the wings were Jowell & Randy, who brought their cheeky antics to perform 2023’s “Colmillo,” an EDM-reggaeton track off Tainy’s album, Data. The Bronx-born MC De La Ghetto later joined the summit of musical mafiosos to perform their new track, “Triple S.” 


Balvin last performed on Coachella’s main stage in 2019, where he welcomed Rosalía for “Con Altura” and Sean Paul for “Contra La Pared.” Balvin, who released his last album, José in 2021, has promised a “super updated” new album for release this year, as well as a collaborative LP with Ed Sheeran; but he made no explicit mention of them at Coachella.

Balvin closed the set with a zany, alien dance break to “Que Calor” and “In Da Ghetto,” before departing with a cryptic message: “New season coming soon,” he said in Spanish, throwing up a peace sign and making his descent underneath the stage.

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