Medellin's Musical Exports: Maluma, J Balvin & More Stars the Colombian City Spawned

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J Balvin, Karol G & Maluma

Leaving a violent past behind, Medellín is now South America’s foremost exporter of diverse musical talent, spawned in the fertile local scene. 

J Balvin

The Medellín native has had six top 10s on the Hot Latin Songs chart — including three No. 1s — but on his reggaetón hits, he doesn’t play into his hometown’s gangsta rep. “I never had a song about a car [or] a watch. We were born in that place,” he has said. “That’s nothing new for me.”

Karol G

One of the few female Latin acts making waves in the urban space, the 26-year-old up-and-comer has placed two tracks on Hot Latin Songs in the past year. In Medellín, she says, reggaetón has transitioned from a banned genre to one with flirtatious lyrics “set to a beat people wanted.”

Sky & Mosty

Thank the writing-production team of Alejandro “Sky” Ramirez and Carlo Alejandro “Mosty” Patiño for many of Balvin’s hits, including “Ginza.” The duo, which is based in the city, also worked on Colombian star (and, yes, Medellín native) Juanes’ upcoming album.


“Every time I want to make music, I go to Medellín,” says one of the city’s favorite sons, who is enjoying Billboard Hot 100 success with his Shakira duet, “Chantaje.” “There’s peace, the air is cold, the city has a magic to it. When I’m there, I remember where I came from.”

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 25 issue of Billboard.