J Balvin joined Colombia’s Cerveza Aguila for an extraordinary ad — actually, a new song and video — that pays tribute to salsa legend Joe Arroyo by updating his classic track “Rebelion” with a festive visuals and beats.

By Jennifer Mota
April 01, 2019 05:24 PM
Photo by Alexander Tamargo

Last month, J Balvin united with Colombian Cerveza Aguila to create a new song and video — also an ad for the beer — that recognizes Colombian culture’s musical contributions both historically and today. Along with his righthand producer Sky Rompiendo, he revived Joe Arroyo’s 1986 salsa hit “Rebelion” by sampling it in his own updated take. While the ad was up the during first week of March, Balvin’s Vevo account officially published the video at midnight (April 1).

The visuals involve a color-drenched palette of dancers and models of all racial backgrounds, with some showcasing the all-white clothing that seems to represent practitioners of Santeria, a spiritual sect in Latin America that blends Catholic and African folk practices and beliefs.

Known as “El Joe,” Joe Arroyo is a significant symbol not only of salsa but also in Afro-diasporic music. His Afro-Latino storytelling was empowered through a variety of African beats that are present in Colombian music like champeta and porro as well as styles like soca, calypso and merengue. The story of an African slave defending his beloved is heard in the original track “Rebelion,” where Joe sings “Se rebelóel negro guapo, tomó venganza por su amor, Y aún se escucha en la verja: No le pegue a mi negra!” which translates to, “It was then that the heroic black man rebelled, he avenged his love and you can still hear him yelling at the gates: Don’t hit my black woman!”

The concept of the ad, along with the beer’s redesign, was “evolving without losing ones essence” thus combining the sounds of two native powerhouses: Joe Arroyo and Balvin. The song is also a tribute to Arroyo, who died in 2011.

Watch “La Rebelión”

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