Shakira and Maluma’s chemistry is real. Here’s how we know.

Shakira and MalumaVia Billboard

Shakira and Maluma: There’s something about these two.

They just work.

Literally and figuratively (who could forget their sexy “Trap” video?).

The one-named wonders — and frequent collaborators — appear on the latest cover of Billboard’s  2018 Latin Issue, opening up about their “absolute chemistry.” The music superstars also discuss what it was like growing up in Colombia, their status as sex symbols and their path to success (not as easy as it looks).

We found a few select quotes from the interview, shot in Barcelona:

Shakira on working with Maluma on their smash “Chantaje:”
“When I meet with a producer in the studio, it’s a bit like a blind date. But what I found [with Maluma] was absolute chemistry. The moment the creative energy started to flow, it never stopped.”

Shakira on the challenges she’s faced as a Latin artist:
“The path to success has been longer, steeper, with more obstacles than if I had been born in Florida or New York City. To be born in Barranquilla and start a career at a time when the pop music scene was almost nonexistent in Colombia … When I began with my ballads and my rock songs, it was a very hostile environment. And there was no social media back then. I had to travel the entire length of Latin America to make my music known in the beginning, going from radio station to radio station. Sometimes we were in three countries in the same day.”

Maluma on the Latin-music explosion:
“As artists, if a door opens, it’s our job to make sure it stays open. One of the most beautiful experiences I had was in Israel last year, where I played for 17,000 people. I couldn’t believe it. I think the best is yet to come, and being part of this movement is an opportunity and an honor. What can be better for us than to sing in Spanish everywhere we go?”

Maluma on his more risqué lyrics:
“I say what I think because that’s the way I am. I don’t like to do music thinking about what’s working on the radio at the moment. I don’t like to deal with taboos. At a cultural level, Latin music hasn’t developed like American music. If you listen to American radio, the top songs deal with all kinds of dirty stuff, and [my song] ‘Felices los 4’ doesn’t even come close. In Latin America, to see an artist who’s not trap or underground do a song like ‘4 Babys’ is a culture shock. But it also opened the door for other [Latin] artists to go further.”

Shakira on her status as a sex symbol:
“I don’t feel like a sex symbol. It’s possible many people see me that way and others do not. Other people see me as a person who has kept them company through their lives with music, someone who they’re fond of. Some days I’ll say, “Wow, I’m hot.” And I have many sweatpants-and-bun days in my life. And I suppose all women have that chameleonic side to them. We’re a little bit mothers, a little bit professionals, we’re sexy … all women have that balance at any age.”