Maluma’s ‘Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy’ Cements Colombia as Reggaeton’s Next Creative Hub

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Maluma‘s debut album on Sony Music Latin, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy, dropped last week, topping out already at the number one slot for Latin Album charts in the U.S., Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as with a recent Latin Grammy nomination for “El Tiki” in the Best Urban Performance category.

In other words: okay Colombians, we see you.

At 14 tracks, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy signals a dedication to upholding the full-length album format, meriting a similarly extravagant album announcement hosted in an airplane hangar at Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport. Intended to show the duality of 21-year-old Maluma, the album stays safely in pop territory, delivering polished, reggaeton-rooted sounds with some straying surprises.

Singles “Borró Cassette” and Rude Boys-produced “El Tiki” have already made the airwave rounds, with Maluma impressively writing or co-writing all except one of the tracks. While additional highlights of the 100 bpm-ish tracks like “Tu Cariño” and “La Misma Moneda” are the word, Maluma does make departures from the style, as in the soca-washed “Carnaval,” heavy ballad “Vuelo Hacia el Olvido,” and bachata track “Tengo Un Amor.” Thanks to the blessings of the always-collaborative nature of reggaeton, Alexis y Fido, Farruko, Arcangel, Cosculluela, El Micha, and Leslie Grace hop on tracks for cameo verses.

While Maluma’s duality is evident through his lyricism, demonstrating the Maluma decree that seduction can come from any emotional angle, the music’s aesthetic range itself does not reflect these variations quite so clearly. While the tracks’ borderline pop glossiness make Maluma’s Pretty Boy side highly visible, I’m left wondering what else this Dirty Boy side has to offer. Perhaps future albums will reveal just that.