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Maluma's name is a tribute to his family. Before he began singing professionally, his now-famous stage name was a tattoo on his left leg. He made the word up from the initial syllable of his family's names -- his mother Marlli, his father Luis, and his sister Manuela. He adopted the name a few years later when he started singing and gained fame as a teenager. He originally pursued football as a vocation for eight years and was gifted enough to attract the notice of the media in his native Medellín. He initially sang for pleasure at hundreds of birthday parties, weddings, and celebrations. Given the rise of social media, and YouTube in particular, his already intense focus on music turned exclusive.
In 2011, at the age of 16, Maluma cut his first independent single, "Farandulera." Due to its internet popularity and emergent radio airplay in Colombia, the song gained the attention of Sony Music, which signed him. The following year, Maluma released Magia, his debut album. Several of its singles -- "Obsesión," "Loco," and "Miss Independent" -- received consistent airplay and hit the charts in Colombia and Latin America. His next single, "La Temperatura," entered the North American charts and earned him a Latin Grammy nomination in 2013. The following year, he was the featured vocalist on Elvis Crespo's hit "Ole Brazil," recorded for the World Cup.
Maluma returned in early 2015 with PB DB. The Mixtape, a compilation of hits with two new singles, "Me Gustas Tanto" and "Climax." The new tracks charted and set the stage for a brand-new album, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy, which appeared in the fall. The recording was produced by Walter Kolm. In 2016, Maluma released a collaborative track with fellow Colombian star Shakira, "Chantaje," and the video became massively popular, racking up over one billion views online within five months. The track "Cuatro Babys," which reflected him as a swaggering Lothario with a rotating cast of women in and out of his bedroom, sparked a backlash when offended listeners called out the song's objectification of women. Some circulated a petition to have it removed from digital platforms. (It wasn't, but Maluma apologized.)
In 2017, Maluma was named "Artist of the Year" at the Premios Lo Nuestro, a Latin music awards show presented by Spanish-language television network Univision. That same year, he began work on his next album, writing songs in English as well as Spanish. In November 2017, he delivered an initial pre-release single, "Corazón," featuring Brazilian singer Nego do Borel, that peaked at number five at Hot Latin Songs. In May, he released the full-length F.A.M.E., produced mainly by the artist's Medellín camp, including Édgar "Edge" Barrera and "Rude Boyz" Kevin ADG & Chan el Genio, with further duet contributions by Timbaland ("Mi Declaración"), Prince Royce ("Hangover"), and Jason Derulo on the bilingual "La Ex." The album reached the top spot on the Latin Albums chart and number 37 on the Hot 200.
Early 2019 saw Maluma issue a remix of the single "Mala Mía," which featured contributions from Anitta and Becky G. A few months later, he collaborated with Madonna on the song "Medellín" from her album Madame X. The pair's hi-tech performance of the song at the Billboard Music Awards brought the house down with its use of holograms. That May, Maluma released his fourth studio album, 11:11, supported by the singles "HP" and "11 P.M." His collaborators on the record included Ozuna, Madonna, Daddy Yankee, and Ricky Martin. It entered the Top Latin Albums chart at number one in June while F.A.M.E. was still in the Top 20. Also in 2019, YouTube Originals premiered its documentary on the singer, Lo Que Era, Lo Que Soy, Lo Que Seré, directed by Dominican filmmaker Jessy Terrero. In early 2020, Maluma scored another hit with the single "ADMV," which paved the way for his fifth album, Papi Juancho. Released in August of that year, it featured appearances by Yandel, Yomo, Lenny Tavárez, Justin Quiles, and others, peaking at number two on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and reaching number 34 on the Billboard 200. 2021 began with the release of the #7DJ (7 Días en Jamaica) EP, followed by the chart-topping stand-along single "Sobrio." Among Maluma's other singles that year were "Imposible Amor" with Natti Natasha and "Mama Tetema" featuring Rayvanny. ~ Thom Jurek