Latin Superstar Maluma Discusses Versace, Hip-Hop Influences and Future Plans

As one of the leading voices in Latin music, Maluma – the stage name of Juan Luis Londoño – has achieved global stardom. With chart-topping songs, millions of albums sold, record-breaking concerts, awards, magazine covers and brand partnerships, his star continues to rise with the recent release of his EP #7DJ (7 Días en Jamaica).

Hailing from Medellin, Colombia, Maluma is now preparing for his “Papi Juancho” world tour, and the excitement for his homecoming trip is evident. His Latin roots have left a major imprint on his musical styling, and his moniker — an amalgam of the first two letters of his mother, father and sister’s names — is a testament to his strong family bond.

In celebration of his recent projects – including a Versace campaign and a new film with Jennifer Lopez – Maluma sat down with HYPEBEAST to discuss his cultural influences, his style inspirations and his future music projects.

HYPEBEAST: How did you first get involved in the music industry?

MALUMA: I started when I was 16 years old, and I used to love writing songs. I was in high school and my friends were telling me that I had talent and that I should record. And then another friend of mine told me that he had done it before and that it was a great experience. So, for my 17th birthday, my aunt gave me my first recording session as a birthday gift and I went to the studio for the first time. And that’s how I decided that music was the thing I wanted to do for my whole life.

“Reggaeton came into my life and I fell in love – I knew it was the genre that I wanted to record.”

Can you describe your upbringing and how your cultural heritage influences your music?

Medellin, Colombia is my hometown. Putting my culture, my flag, my country, and my city around the world – making it global – for me, that’s important. I love Salsa music! My grandparents used to listen to Salsa music in their house all the time when I was a kid – Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz and all the Puerto Rican singers – so that was my first influence. After that, I started listening to R&B and a lot of hip-hop. I’m a huge fan of 50 Cent, Ja Rule, and Eminem. Then reggaeton came into my life and I fell in love – I knew it was the genre that I wanted to record.

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Are there any awards or projects that stand out as career-defining moments for you?

I have had a couple of key moments in my life. I would say when I recorded the first time with Madonna, that was such a big thing. Also, when I won my first Grammy for my album F.A.M.E.

Tell us about your personal style and your approach to fashion?

I love fashion, everybody knows that! I’m always trying to explore my creativity when I want to dress up. I have my stylist, Ugo Mozie, and we love working together. We’re close friends and he’s great, but the most amazing thing is that he’s a designer, too. So he helps me with the ideas, how to make it happen, and taking the [fashion] game to another level.

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How did your partnership with Versace come about?

Donatella and I met a couple of years ago, and she knows that I’m her fan. She knew that I wanted to be part of a campaign and we talked about it, but I didn’t think that it was gonna happen. I was pretty shocked and very happy, of course, it’s such a big dream. And I called my mom because she’s been wearing Versace her whole life – she was so proud and very grateful to Donatella for making it happen.

Your “Limited-Edition by Maluma” partnership with Hennessy V.S.O.P is a first of its kind, how did it come about?

I’ve always dreamt of developing my own bottle of Hennessy. We’ve been working together for almost four years, and it’s beautiful. I’m the first music artist who designed a bottle of Hennessy, and the box contains the colors of the Papi Juancho album and tour along with the buildings from my hometown.

Cassidy Sparrow/Hennessy Usa/Getty

What projects are you working on for the future?

A lot of things are coming! The movie Marry Me is going to be out this month, and right now, I’m working on my next album. Also, my single “Cositas de la USA” is a pretty important song for me. I would say that 2022 is going to be one of my biggest years and we’re gonna work to make it happen.
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