Maluma Reflects on His Rapid Rise to Global Superstardom: 'I Feel Like I'm Just Starting'

Make no mistake, Maluma is just getting warmed up.

Fresh off his first-ever MTV VMAs win for best Latin video award for "Qué Pena," the reggaeton singer opens up to PEOPLE in this week's issue about his recent rise to global stardom as he dominates the Latin charts with his latest single "Hawái," from his new album named for his edgy alter-ego, Papi Juancho.

"I feel like I'm just starting. I have so many dreams — and I'm going to keep dreaming," the "Corazon" singer tells PEOPLE. "I know that I can achieve so many things, so I'm going there. It's just the beginning."

His determination and confidence, however, are no match for the singer when he thinks about his die-hard fans, the "Malumaniatics," who have started showing up outside his home singing his songs after his world tour was suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"I hate when someone says, 'Oh, you're handsome,' " he insists. "People think I'm going to be like, 'Holy s—, I know.' It's totally the opposite. I'm shy!"

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Maluma Wins First-Ever VMA, Dazzles on Stage as He Performs 'Hawái': 'I Can't Believe This'

But it wasn't an overnight rise to fame for Maluma. Born into a humble family in Medellin, Colombia, the singer says his childhood was mostly spent outdoors enjoying the mountains and lush landscapes.

"My years growing up were beautiful," he recalls. "We had so many things to do — the structure of my city is beautiful. I used to go riding bicycles with my friends."

The good memories also came with years of hardship. "I sold lollipops at school and would bring the money to my mom," he recalls of his younger years spent helping the family make ends meet. "We were not rich, but we had everything we needed: food, a house."

When he wasn't attending school, Maluma was off on the fields practicing his soccer skills, in the hopes to one day make it in the sport's professional world. But everything changed the day he was offered a chance to visit a recording studio and finally record the songs he had spent hours writing in his free time.

"When I went to the studio for the first time, that was my happiest moment, and an experience I wanted for the rest of my life," says Maluma, who eventually gave up soccer at 16 to pursue his passion for music.

See Inside Maluma's Colombian Mansion Where He's Social Distancing: 'This Is My Sanctuary'

Fast-forward more than a decade later and Maluma — who will next star alongside Jennifer Lopez in their rom-com, Marry Me — admits it's hard to believe that moment changed his future forever.

"Doing so many things is not normal," the "Felices Los 4" singer, who has now racked up 16 No. 1 hits and billions of views on YouTube since that fateful day, says of his A-list collaborations with Ricky Martin, Shakira and Madonna. He adds, "But I'm young and the last two years have been beautiful."

At only 26, Maluma promises there's still plenty to come in his music career. But family remains his top priority and the singer hopes to one day have one of his own.

"My family was always very close," he says of his dad Luis, mom Marlli and sister Manuela, whose names he melded to create his stage name. "One of my biggest dreams is being a father and getting old with someone next to me," he says.

For more from Maluma on fame, family and his future, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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