The Story Of The Song “Maria Maria” By Santana
A ‘Feel-Good Summer Song’
It was seven years before Santana followed up his 1992 album “Milagro.” But it was well worth the wait for most fans because when he dropped 1999’s “Supernatural,” he was clearly back in the game. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea especially when it came to Carlos Santana’s choices for his musical guests. Nevertheless, he achieved massive success with the first single “Smooth.”
He then dropped “Maria Maria” which featured R&B duo The Product G&B. It dominated the charts in the US and several other countries. It was so successful that Santana eventually collaborated with chef Roberto Santibañez so they could open up five restaurants named after the track. Santana also ended up taking home the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 2000.
The melody riff for “Maria Maria” was inspired by the 1993 song “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit.” It was produced and co-written by Wyclef Jean and Jerry Duplessis. Jean is one of the masterminds behind the mix of Latin, R&B, and hip-hop. They even drew inspiration from the Broadway musical West Side Story where the protagonist falls in love with a woman named Maria.
Jean said in 2017, “[I thought], What if I could pull a Wu-Tang riff inside of a Santana record, so that my generation, when they heard it, would be able to identify with it?”
Like the other tracks on “Supernatural,” “Maria Maria” gave Santana a new legion of fans. There were those who weren’t impressed with his too-commercial sound, however. But for Santana, he told Billboard: “‘Maria Maria’ was and will always be that feel-good summer song that speaks to women.”