There’s no denying the impact Latin music has had on the world and in recent years the sounds of Reggaetón and Latin trap have found their way into the mainstream pop charts. Canada is no exception and in fact, may actually be one of the biggest contributing factors of bringing the Latin sound to the forefront. Some of the nation’s biggest artists have crossover collaborations in Latin music, popularizing the sounds in North America and across the globe. Justin Bieber collaborating with Luis Fonse and Daddy Yankee, Jessie Reyez and Karol G, Drake and Bad Bunny. Quite a few Canadian heavy hitters have made the jump and tried their hand at singing in Spanish.
The latest superstar collaboration comes in the form of Maluma and The Weeknd on the “Hawái” remix. The original song was a smash hit topping Billboard’s Global Excl. U.S. chart. The song’s popularity garnered interest from various artists hoping to jump on a remix. But Maluma and his team weren’t eager to drop a remix—that is until they received a call from Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, CEO of XO Records and manager of The Weeknd. The Weeknd was already someone Maluma was hoping to work with so there was no time wasted in recording, shooting a music video, and releasing a remix for the fans. Coordinating this type of project between two global stars could take months, but the whole process for the “Hawái” Remix took only three weeks.
Fresh off his smouldering AMAs performance with Jennifer Lopez, I caught up with Maluma via a video call (watch the full interview above). We discussed the latest collaboration with The Weeknd, his acting debut alongside J.Lo and Owen Wilson in a new rom-com titled Marry Me (set to release May 2021), and recording some unreleased music with Boi-1da while in Toronto.
Maluma, thank you for joining us. Como estamos, hermano? (How are you doing, brother?)
Bien papi, gracias a Dios. I’m good, I’m good. Thank God.
How’s Miami, man? I know the weather’s a lot nicer there than it is here. We’re in Toronto and there’s snow on the ground, you know?
Well, but actually I love snow, man. I really want to go to Canada and do a snowboard because I love skiing and doing snowboarding. I mean I love Miami, weather right now is beautiful, we have the beautiful sun. But I miss the snow, man.
I’m out here looking at the snow from my window and I’m just thinking about “Hawái de vacaciones.” That’s all I’m thinking about, bro.
[Laughs.] Much better being in Hawái.
“Working with Abel was amazing. That was something that I really wasn’t expecting to happen because I wanted to work on the remix of “Hawái,” but I was thinking like, if The Weeknd wanted to do it, for sure he was going to be my first choice.”
For sure, man. Let’s talk about that song. It’s been such a huge success, the original and the remix. Everyone’s really excited about this version with The Weeknd as well. From what I understand, it came together really quick, man. Like in a month.Yeah man, that was beautiful. Working with Abel was amazing. That was something that I really wasn’t expecting to happen because I wanted to work on the remix of “Hawái,” but I was thinking like, if The Weeknd wanted to do it, for sure he was going to be my first choice, you know what I mean? But also, I wanted to work this remix with big artists. I mean, because people were thinking that I was going to work with different reggaeton artists, you know what I mean? And they thought I was going to do this remix, like very urban or a very reggaeton version right? But then when everything started, when Miguel my manager, he’s part of my team. He calls Sal—actually Sal called Miguel. Sal is The Weeknd’s manager. And then they said that he wanted to work with me if I had a new song. And then I was like, “No bro, you’re crazy. You have to send him the song; we have to send him the remix of ‘Hawái.’ He has to be the one who is going to be part of the song, of the remix.” And it happened super fast, man. It happened quick and it was very organic and very natural.
What was that like? What is it like working with The Weeknd?
It was amazing, man. Like, we sent him the song, the project, and then he told me that he was going to work on it that week. That was on Saturday, like 11 a.m. on Saturday. So I told him that I wanted to go with him to the studio because I wanted to be part of it. And then, like at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., something like that, he sent me back a voice note with the intro with his verse and the hook the same day that I talked to him, when he told me that he wanted to be part of the song. So it was amazing, man. [He’s] super professional. Working with him is great. Also, doing the video with him in L.A. was beautiful. He’s such a big superstar man. And I feel proud of this movement, actually.
Yeah man, the video turned out great. Everything looks really good. What was it like being on set with him and actually recording? What was that like?
Well, that was weird, man, because I felt like I met him before, you know, like for a long time already. I don’t know. When we were there working together in Los Angeles and we were sharing time in the video, it was very, very cool man. Like he’s a good guy and he understands that the Latin movement is huge, man. And we’re taking over the world and it’s nice to share this big song with someone like him.
The Latin scene in Toronto and Canada has also been blowing up just like it has around the whole world, you know? The last time I think you were in Canada was in February. You had a show out here. You were here for your tour. What was that experience like being out here in Canada and in Toronto?
That was great, man. I mean, I feel like it was the first time that I was doing like a big, big arena, and because I went before I did a couple of shows, but they were not that big. We did theaters before. And then when I got there, I don’t remember the name of the arena that I performed at over there, but it was beautiful, man. It was sold out. The crowd is insane because I was expecting, like, only people from Canada. But if you go actually to the crowd, you see that there were people from Asia and that’s crazy—people from different parts, different areas in the world. And I feel very grateful that they came to the concert and enjoyed the tour. I can’t wait to go back and perform again over there.
I know Toronto specifically, they have a lot of love for Maluma. There’s even a local clothing brand, shout out to Brito. He’s the guy that created Toronto Latinos, Barrio, and I know you’ve been photographed in it and you’ve been showing love to the Toronto brands, too. That’s really cool, man.
I love urban art, man and if there is someone that I can help and someone that I can support to make their dreams come true just the way I did, man, why I’m not going to do it, you know what I mean?
“Jennifer, she has her own actions. And of course, Beyoncé is also one of the biggest artists ever. So yeah, I feel like they both are sexy. They both are hot, man. And they killed the game.”
Yeah, for sure, man. That’s really cool. Let’s talk about your latest performance at the AMAs. You performed with J.Lo. It was an amazing performance, man. I know I was watching and I was like, ‘Wow, this is a really dope performance.’ So tell me what that’s like. What was it like performing live with J.Lo at the AMAs?
Well, that was amazing too, man. Jennifer is someone that I always admired since I was a little kid and I always wanted to work with her. I’ve been very close with Marc Anthony too, for a while already. And well, she has that powerful energy, you know, and working with her, being in the studio with her, also doing the movie that is going to be out next year and everything, it’s been an amazing experience working with Jennifer. And then we had the chance to perform the AMAs. We did these these couple songs, “Pa Ti” and “Lonely” and man, she killed it. And I mean, she’s super sexy—it’s insane that she’s been so strong for so long, you know. Like they’ve been in the game for a long, long time and she’s still one of the best. She’s an icon, man, and working with her was beautiful. I love her family. I love the way she is. And I feel very, very, honoured again of having the opportunity of working with Jennifer Lopez.
Yeah. Let’s talk about how far Latin music has come. Even the AMAs, they introduced a few new Latin categories. That’s how powerful Latin music is right now. Tell me about the movement and the culture.
Man, I feel like this has been happening for a while already. And there are a lot of artists that opened the door for me like Ricky Martin, man, we cannot forget that. We cannot forget Shakira. Also Jennifer, I like including Jennifer Lopez. There are a lot of artists that [have] been working for a while trying to open those doors. [Now] that they’re already open and being part of the whole culture and being part of that group of artists that we’re making history around the world. I feel like that’s something that I feel very, very honored and proud [of]. This is just the beginning, though. I feel like we’re just starting, man, and the best things are about to come.
For your AMAs performance with J.Lo, there was a lot feedback on that and some of the feedback that was… I’m sure you saw the J.Lo and the Beyoncé thing, right? Some people were like, this looks kind of like Beyoncé’s performance. Is she paying homage? Did she copy it? Have you have you talked to J.Lo about that?
No, I haven’t talked to her about it, but I don’t agree. I mean, Beyoncé’s Beyoncé, man and we have nothing to say about it. And Jennifer Lopez is Jennifer Lopez. I feel like of course they have similar a line when we’re talking about dance and rhythm and this kind of music that they love doing. But for sure, Jennifer, she has her own actions. And of course, Beyoncé is also one of the biggest artists ever. So yeah, I feel like they both are sexy. They both are hot, man. And they killed the game.
Talk to me about the movie with J.Lo and Owen Wilson. I mean, it’s your first movie, man, and it’s a big Hollywood rom-com. Congratulations bro. That’s huge.
Thank you, man. Yeah, I was always waiting for this opportunity, you know? There were a couple of companies and they called us before and they wanted me to be part of different TV series on Netflix and this and that. And I wasn’t that sure, you know, to start my acting career in those TV series. So I was waiting for the right timing, man, and then Jennifer and her team called us and they said that they had this opportunity for me to be in a rom-com with Owen Wilson—a Hollywood movie, man. That was like my first step in the industry. So it’s amazing. I feel like this first step was a very strong first step and I always dreamed about this.
So acting is going to be something that you’re going to keep up with? It’s like a new addition to your career, something you want to keep pursuing.
For sure, for sure. Of course I love touring, of course I love making music, but I feel if I can keep growing in the acting career man, why I’m not going to do it? There are so many opportunities. It’s a big industry. I’m just starting, man, but I love it and I always do what I love. And if acting is going to make me happy, I’m going to keep doing it.
I also wanted to ask you, last time you were in Toronto, I heard from a friend of mine that you actually ended up in the studio with Boi-1da.
Tell me about that experience, man. What was that like? You connected with Boi-1da. You went to his studio.
He’s my boy, man. He’s my boy and his crew, man, all the people that were there with us working in the studio, they’re great, man. And of course, it’s not a secret that he’s one of the most talented producers in the industry. Working with Boi-1da was great, man. Someone who makes so many hits—so many hits for Drake, The Weeknd, and so many artists, Canadian and global superstars. And being there in the studio with Boi-1da was amazing. We had a couple of songs that actually, I think—what I’m going to do with them because they’re so good and I’m mixing the Spanish and English and Afrobeat with a little bit of the Latin music, you know? So it’s a very interesting proposal. And I’m sure that if I text Boi-1da right now, he’s going to reply saying that he wants to listen to the songs out in the radio. So maybe one day we’re going to listen to them, ya?
That’s cool. I hope to see a Maluma and Boi-1da collaboration for sure someday, man.
Yeah man, he’s so talented. He’s so talented. Oof, Crazy.
I wanted to end with a couple of questions for you. I’m going to give you two choices for each. And you tell me which is your your favourite. So you pick one.
OK, OK, OK.
Favorite, Owen Wilson movie: Wedding Crashers or Midnight in Paris?
Wedding Crashers, man. For sure. [Laughs.]
Of course, that’s a classic, man. Of course.
Favourite J.Lo movie: Selena or El Cantante?
Wow, that’s a tough one, man. But I would say El Cantante, because Marc [Anthony], he’s there too, and I love him too. So El Cantante, yeah.
That’s a good one, man. Who speaks better Spanish on a song: Drake on “Mia” with Bad Bunny or Justin Bieber on “Despacito” with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee?
[Laughs.] Well, that’s a good one but I have to say Drake, I have to say Drake. Yeah, sorry Justin.
And what if we throw The Weeknd in there? And now it’s Drake and The Weeknd.
The Weeknd. Wait but it’s not because he’s part of my song, it’s because he was such a professional, man, and he wanted to record the hook so many times to make it like almost perfect, that I would say The Weekend because he really wanted to be like super good.
Which do you prefer: riding horses or playing soccer?
Mmmm wow. Wow fuck. [Laughs.] Maybe right now riding horses. Yeah, because I used to play soccer for a long time and I felt like I was going to be a pro, you know, playing soccer. So I got a little bit tired of it. So now I prefer riding horses.
Nice, man. And then the last one, this is just a suggestion—for people who want to try a new Colombian dish, what is your favorite, you know, Colombiano authentic dish?
Bro, people gotta try andeja paisa for sure. From Medellin that has for me—well it’s is a lot of carbs, a lot of food, but it is amazing. You should try bandeja paisa.
That’s the one. OK, man, thank you so much, bro. That’s all I got for you.
Thank you my brother.