Maluma is currently having ‘a moment’ on the global stage — but not exactly in his home country, where he’s been having a moment since 2015, with two diamond selling records and several Top 10 Latin Billboard hits. And unlike that other really huge pop star lothario from Columbia, our “Dirty Boy” (a nickname he received after the title of his second studio album) hasn’t achieved this recent stateside acknowledgment by teaming up with trendy hip-hop acts, but instead by partnering up with the Queen of Pop herself. By willing to play second fiddle to Madonna in the role of her much younger boy toy, Maluma has showcased a certain level of savviness towards breaking into American steaming numbers that many in his field have yet to grasp: sometimes, it pays to branch out of your established comfort zone.
This is all to suggest that 11:11, Maulma’s latest album, is yet another step towards world domination for the young buck; he pulls together an impressive list of eclectic features that range from reggaeton trappers (Ozuna on “Dispuesto”) to Latin pop forefathers (Ricky Martin on “No Se Me Quita”), with even the aforementioned Madonna popping up to sing, in broken Spanish, on “Soltera.” What’s most impressive about these seemingly gratuitous features comes less from their name recognition, and more from how expertly they play off our central star’s delicately youthful vocal. It’s with these impressive pipes that Maluma’s able to devilishly saunter across the bi-lingual “Tu Vecina” with a more than game Ty Dolla Sign, while also digging into his higher vocal range on “Te Quiero,” soaring in tandem with the track’s vibrant horn section. At 16 tracks and a near hour length, 11:11 can seem a tad overblown from a singer who’s a little too eager to please every demographic streaming services can allow him, but the distinct pleasure in watching a wide-ranging artist right on the cusp of international fame can’t be denied; for Maluma, half of his charm comes from trying to figure out just what he’ll attempt next in order to grab your attention.
Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 4.