Maluma's 'F.A.M.E.': 5 Essential Tracks

Maluma’s music is sometimes described as romantic, sexy, pop-leaning reggaeton. But on his new album, F.A.M.E. (out today) -- which stands for Fe, Alma Música, Esencia -- Faith, Soul, Music, Essence -- Maluma traverses a broad range of genres. From reggaeton to tropical to acoustic, guitar-rich ballads, he sings not so much about love, but about relationships: Messy, complicated, and ultimately fleeting. 

It’s ironic that Maluma has at times been lambasted by feminists for objectifying women (concretely for his hit song “Cuatro Babys”), when in fact the women in his songs give as much as they take. “I’m not the only one who’s lifted that dress,” he laments in “Ojos que no ven” (See No Evil). “You don’t do it when I’m there, if I see nothing, we’re still innocent.” In their ruthless approach to love and fidelity, Maluma’s women have achieved ultimate equality, winning, losing and playing at the same pace as their men. 

It’s the kind of lyrical insight into contemporary relationships that raises the bar for this album of hits that includes bilingual R&B (like “Mi Ex” with Jason Derulo) and finely-crafted ballads whose surprising sonic fusion defies description, as well as bilingual forays that are anything but trite. Produced mostly by Maluma’s Medellin camp of Édgar Barrera "Edge" and “Rude Boyz” Kevin ADG & Chan El Genio, with additional contributions by Timbaland and Scott Storch, F.A.M.E. is a major step forward both for Maluma and for the standards of pop/urban music. 

By now, you’ve already heard hits like “Corazón," "Marinero" and “Felices los 4.” Here are five other essential tracks. 

1. "Mi Declaracion" (My Declaration): So you thought this was a declaration of love? Nah. A “you’re not the girl for me break-up song,” “Mi declaración” starts as an outright ballad, with Maluma singing simply over guitar -- Marc Anthony style -- then goes into a purely acoustic rumba/rap fusion, with help from Sid and Timbaland (who also produced) and a beautiful female-voice chorus in English. “Mi declaración” defies description, yet still manages to fit into the album. And, kudos for handling the so-difficult bilingual element with nuance.  

2.  "La Ex": Fun and flirty, this bilingual mix of R&B and reggaeton features Derulo. 

3. "Cuenta a saldo": Slow and sultry, with an almost Brazilian feel, it articulates everybody’s biggest fear: “The night you called me […]You didn’t hang up your cellphone, and I heard you […]”  Oh well. Impossible not to relate.

4. "Ojos que no ven": Playing the field, for both partners, is the subject of this vintage Maluma track, reminiscent in sound to hits like “Felices los 4.” 

5. "Unfollow": The title says it all. Can you escape your ex when social media posts are all around you? Call it stylized trap for the digital age.