Photo: J. Grassi/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
How Maluca Mala Is Flipping The Script With Her Daring Sound
Maluca Mala's stage name carries weight. Meaning "bad woman" in Spanish, Maluca took a name that has a derogatory history and turned it into a powerful statement.
"I grew up being called Maluca. It was a very endearing name," she said in an interview with Latina. "But one time I searched its meaning, and I learned that it’s used in Latin American countries to describe a Black woman, or really like a woman in blackface, which is obviously bad and has a negative connotation. But, for me, it’s always been positive, never a way to put me down."
The singer, who is Bronx-born with Dominican roots, paired "maluca" with "mala" or "bad" in English—inspired by urban culture's use of bad as being powerful or "daring" as she told Latina—and became Maluca Mala.
Her sound is daring too. Throughout her career, Maluca has meshed genres like hip-hop, merengue – a musical genre deriving from the Dominican Republic – with electronic dance music and has been at the forefront of other genres like "tropical punk" and "ghetto techno." With lyrics in simultaneous English and Spanish, or Spanglish, she denounces European beauty standards, empowers Afro-Latinas to be confident with who they are, reclaims gender stereotypes or just sings about love with a fun and innovative beat.
While being in the underground scene for years, Maluca has collaborated with big names in pop culture. She has been associated with Mad Decent, a L.A.based Record Label headed by GRAMMY winner Diplo, and been featured on tracks by GRAMMY-nominated singer Robyn and electro-music project Mexican Institute Of Sound.
Listen to the music below to learn more about Maluca Mala's sound:
The story goes that "El Tigeraso" was made after Maluca met Diplo at a karaoke bar. The song has a merengue influence that comes together with electro and lyrics boasts to men about "having it all."
Maluca embraces her blackness and her bold personality in "Mala." "I wrote the record as a way to highlight all the negative things people told me about myself," she told V Magazine. "You have bad hair, you're crazy, you're too tough...and embrace them. Yes, my hair is nappy and I look like a witch and I'm crazy, but you love it! I've had self-esteem issues for many years and now that I'm in my 30s I'm just really f***ing feeling myself."
In "Trigger," Maluca sings about love over a raggeton beat: " Don't care what they all gonna say/ I just want a magnum love everyday/ Coming like a bang and you know I'm not afraid/ To pull that trigger, gonna pull that trigger."