El Malo showcases cultural diversity perfectly. The album brought together Cuban guaguanco, son montuno and mozambique, Puerto Rican bomba, and the current craze at the time, boogaloo and shing-a-ling. The latter in particular was becoming hugely popular with Latino youth, but also crossing over into both the black and white communities.
Although very young, Willie Colón had all the right ingredients to make his debut album special. A young and energetic band including future Fania All Star timbalero Nicky Marrero and bassist Eddie ''Gua Gua'' Rivera. He wrote some great arrangements and songs, perfectly judging the mood of the times, a desire for change, and Willie's boogaloo and shing-a-ling tracks offered something new and vibrant. Finally, the Willie Colón secret weapon was one Héctor Lavoe. A young teenage singer born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in New York, Lavoe was the link to the Caribbean, the roots of Willie Colón s music. Lavoe had a beautiful tenor voice, tuneful but gritty, and with that nasal delivery of the traditional soneros. Young and inexperienced as they were, the Willie Colón band had something special, and that's why Fania Records' Jerry Masucci and Johnny Pacheco signed them. They were right the album sold well, achieving excellent figures for a totally new and unknown artist.