Maldy was in the middle of moving from Orlando to Puerto Rico when he received a phone call that changed his life. “Karol G’s team reached out to me, and five days later, I was in Barcelona filming the music video,” he tells Billboard. “I was taken by surprise when her team told me that they had a song for me with her.”
The Puerto Rican reggaetón artist—half of the former duo Plan B alongside Chencho Corleone—had been on a two-year hiatus when he was invited as a collaborator on Karol G’s latest track “Gatúbela.” He describes the process as “very fast,” “random” and “challenging” — but one he couldn’t let go of.
“I was actually working on my comeback album called Sin Maldy No Hay Perreo and had just signed a deal with Warner Music Latina when I got the proposal,” he recalls. “I had to stop all my plans to focus on this track and give it my 100 percent. I’m really happy with everything that’s happening with the song and my career right now. Truthfully, it really surprised me that out of everyone in the industry, I made my comeback with Karol G.”
“Gatúbela,” an infectious, old-school reggaetón laced with intense perreo beats produced by DJ Maff, was released on Aug. 25, and scored Maldy his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (dated Sept. 10). The track also opened at No. 4 on the multi-metric Hot Latin Songs chart, No. 15 on Latin Rhythm Airplay and No. 39 on Latin Airplay.
After a more than 20-year trajectory, your collaboration with Karol G in “Gatúbela” gave you your first Hot 100 hit. What does this moment represent for you?
I’m very happy with everything that’s happening with “Gatúbela.” I was shocked to find out that I entered the Hot 100. My team actually received the news first and my road manager was the one who shared it with me. I got a bit teary-eyed because I had taken a break from music for two years, and thankfully, now I’m seeing the results of all my hard work.
Take us back to the day you were told about this collaboration: How exactly was it born and who was part of the creative process?
Around July 21, Karol G’s team reached out to me, and five days later, I was in Barcelona filming the video. I was taken by surprise when Karol’s team told me that they had a song for me with her. It happened very fast and randomly, to be honest. At the time, I was in the middle of a move, from Orlando to Puerto Rico, which made it very challenging for me, but I just knew I couldn’t let this opportunity go. The next day I went to the studio in Miami and sang my verse. Karol’s team actually gave me the entire song with my verse already written. What I did was add very few touches to interpret it with my essence. I was in the studio with Justin Quiles, who composed the song, but I didn’t meet the producer, DJ Maff, until the day of the video shoot. Even though he’s a new producer, he conserves a lot of the old-school reaggaetón sound in his beats, and he gave “Gatúbela” the perfect fusion between Karol and Maldy.
Now that you’ve worked with Karol G, what do you think makes her a standout artist?
I had never met Karol G until the filming of the music video in Spain. We talked for a bit and took photos, and at that moment I realized that she’s a very special person. She’s very humble, she’s unique, and she’s very authentic. We had a good time and amazing chemistry while filming the music video because she really enjoys what she’s doing. She said that whether “Gatúbela” made the numbers or not, this collaboration was very personal to her because she’s been a fan of Plan B and old-school reggaetón since the beginning. The few hours we spent together on set were also very meaningful to me, and the video came out sensational.
At what moment did you feel that “Gatúbela” was going to be a hit?
The very moment I was recording the song. My engineer and assistant were in the studio with me, and from the moment I began recording my verse, the song immediately came full circle. Everyone in the studio was pumped and told me that it was going to be a hit. When she began doing the promo, she didn’t mention I was on the track until closer to its release. When it was finally announced that I was on the song, fans on social media went crazy.
After a two-year hiatus, did you ever envision your comeback alongside an artist like Karol G?
No. I was actually working on my comeback album called Sin Maldy No Hay Perreo and had just signed a deal with Warner Music Latina when I got the proposal from Karol. I had to stop all my plans to focus on this track and give it my 100 percent. I’m really happy with everything that’s happening with the song and my career right now, and truthfully, it really surprised me that out of everyone in the industry, I made my comeback with Karol G.
Now that you mentioned Warner Music Latina, you’ve led your solo career as an independent artist. Why was signing with them the right fit?
It’s not because I looked for them, it’s because they believed in my project and knew my potential. They knew that I wasn’t a new artist and that fans were waiting for new music whether it was from me as a solo artist or as Plan B. When I met with them, I immediately knew that I had to sign with them because they knew my essence and my trajectory.
What new projects can we expect under your new record deal?
We are putting the final touches on my next album Sin Maldy No Hay Perreo. I have many artists who are collaborating with me but I don’t want to mention names right now. I want to apply the same strategy I did with “Gatúbela” of keeping everything a secret. But I can say that I’m going to release 12 songs and give my 100 percent on each track.