Do you love upbeat dance music with a definite Latina flavor? Check out “Trigger,” the single from NYC-based Hip Hop artist Maluca Mala. Ms. Mala (neé Natalie Ann Yepez) was born in the Bronx to Dominican parents, and grew up in the NYC neighborhoods of the East Village and Washington Heights.
Choosing a Stage Name
In Spanish Maluca is a derivative of Mala, a bad or crazy girl, and in Portuguese Maluca means a crazy or mischievous girl. Her uncle gave her that nickname as a child, and she felt that it fit her and her desire to sing and write her own kind of music and not only what would normally be expected of her with her heritage.
Making it Happen
Maluca had many struggles as an independent singer with her mix of music that has been described as ghetto techno, hip-hop, experimental tropical punk, meringue, old-school deep house and other unusual genres. She took vocal lessons, went to open mic nights, joined the rock band the Bowery Riots where she played the tambourine and did back-up singing. She has toured with Amanda Blank as a back-up singer and dancer, toured with her own stage show that included two dancers named The Cookies, opened for Swedish singer Robyn in her United States tour, and whatever else she could find to do musically.
She persevered and eventually had a chance meeting with Diplo while she was performing karaoke. That led eventually to “El Tigeraso”, her first single, and she was on her way.
This self-made artist spent years waitressing and bartending, before giving up both to focus entirely on her music; it hasn’t been easy—according to a recent interview with a New York Times blog, Mala had to pay her own expenses to open for Robyn on tour, which set her back quite a bit.
Giving Back to Support Youth Arts Programs
Although still young, (Maluca is in her early 30’s) the performer has already made it her business to give back to those in need. With appreciation of her good fortune, Maluca works with a cause very dear to her heart, the Batey106 Project, in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. This program introduces the basic artistic skills of painting, playing musical instruments, arts and crafts, photography, filmmaking, and fashion to 150 children, teens, and young adults.