Back in 2007 over at the godspot, 33jones.com, my man Fresh posted some joints from this rapper from Minnesota named Mally from the 612. Thanks to the 10+ years of great hip hop from Slug, Brother Ali, POS, and the rest of Rhymesayers, I had no problem checking out an MC from the land of Kirby Puckett, Robert Smith, and Isiah Rider. I had a certain sound imprinted in my head of “Minnesota rap”–Mally was not that. What I heard was a dude getting busy over J Dilla beats with a rhyme style and flow more akin to Joe Budden and Skyzoo than Heiruspecs and Doomtree. It was a pleasant surprise. Though the audio quality was hella raw and the kid barely dropped a hook, my spidey sense began tingling. Whoever this Mally kid was, I needed a copy of his shit. Pronto.
Soon, I got a personalized copy of The Letter, Mally’s first project. Within a few months, it quickly got buried in my listening dock, but every few weeks I would go back to it and hear new punchlines and double entendres that I missed the first few times around. It was hard to get past the lo-fi aspect of the recordings, but the kid transcended the shoddy mixdowns and showed more promise than the latest DJ Khaled Xbox toter.
His latest offering, the recently released The Moment, is more refined with original production, personal stories of love and loss of innocence, and quotables for backpackers and Lil Wayne stans. Featuring beats from upcoming cats like Mydus, Checks and Balances, Redwine, some Joey Fatone looking mofo from Philly (me!), and few other cats who are definitely on point, it’s the next step in the evolution of Minnesota’s answer to the new wave of east coast lyricists currently on the cusp. It’s time for Mally to Learn You Something…
1. At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do?
Man, to be honest I would say 2007 right after I dropped my first CD ‘The Letter’. I can’t even lie, I still look at music as if it is a hobby but I happen to be pretty decent at what I do. Alot of the cats that hear my shit that are from all over the U.S and Minneapolis always ask: How long you been rapping for? I always reply “since 2006, but I have been seriously writing since 2000”. That shit blows people’s minds all the time. Also, I knew music was what I loved when I seen how much of a response I got from ‘The Letter’ from Blacks, Whites, Mexicans etc. It was a universal album that touched on every aspect of life and everybody could relate in more than one way. In addition to hearing what everybody else said about the music whether it was positive or just constructive criticism, I never felt this free in my life. I say that because in every bar, hook (or lack thereof) I was myself and never wanted to be nobody but Mally or Malik (my gov’t name).
2. How has Minnesota shaped your sound or molded you as an MC?
To be honest, I would say that Minnesota has a nice piece of everything from prosperity, to poverty, an okay mix of people, residential areas to big ass corporate buildings. The look of Minnesota, or Minneapolis more so since thats where I live is diverse when looking at it from the outside. Being raised in Minneapolis, Mn was different too because I wasn’t just around crime, and poverty my whole or prosperity and longevity; I got both sides of the fence day in and day out. That kind of experience definitely influenced my attitude towards the music and how the content has come out more than anything. Musically, I don’t wanna dog my state out, but from my perspective I think we could do much better than we have been. I like a few up and coming cats from Minneapolis, Mn like Young Son, Max Haben, TQD and Wize Guyz. Besides Brother Ali, the vets never influenced my sound to be honest…I say that because the sound they brought was pretty similar and boring at times in my own opinion. I hope nobody calls me a hater. I respect the vets but their music was not very good to me.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
Very shortly, my mentor Dr. Lawrence Potter, my Mother (she did it all, but Thank God I aint no mama’s boy…she raised me to be independent) and my main man Marc ‘Major’ Sanyal who done been there through it all since 5th grade. I would say I look up to em all, but I learn the most from Marc due to the fact he had somewhat of a similar upbringing, inner city kid, never rich, down to earth loves music and keeps it funky-100 all day every day no matter what. Oh and I “look up” to God when I pray.
4. With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
Mally to self: ‘You should save some money to buy some nice studio equipment so you don’t have to pay nobody for studio time, write everyday whenever you have a sick flow just jot it down’. There’s aplenty of shit I woulda done different such as: Started rapping earlier, tell dudes they sucked at rapping when they asked me did I I like their material. However, I am not perfect so making mistakes just lets me know that I made some kind of decisions in life. The biggest thing I really woulda did different was Grind Harder and network better with cats even if I aint wanna speak to em…I’m learning that goes a long way sometimes.
5. What’s hard for you? What do you struggle with?
Lyrically: Making sure my music isn’t too personal, but also isn’t too fuckin mainstream. That has been the only struggle with the music. Hooks aren’t hard, but I just have to stop being stubborn and realize I aint the only one listening to my music nowadays.
Emotionally & Physically: Women have always been the toughest thing I done dealt with in my life. I say that shit because I wanna smash em all, but I don’t want no kids or no damn diseases. Plus, especially this summer I learned bitches play games…mad games. So I struggle with wanting a main squeeze but not wanting one simultaneous.
Mentally: I’m confused in life, I don’t know If I wanna be a full time worker or a full time spitter my dude. There have been times where I really hated myself for not being well known at this point in my career. I have been learning to love myself but its hard to do that everyday.
6. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major label. What are the first 3 things you would do as the boss?
a. Call Jay-Z, Termanology, Skyzoo, Lupe, Little Brother, Joe Budden, about 30 chicks and some of our friends and go on a cruise…take a vacation my first day with all my favorite rappers
b. Sign artists with real talent
c. Sign all of my favorite rappers and give them 100% creative control over their music – and drop all wack artists off my label.
7. What are some of your favorite albums?
2pac – All Eyes on Me
Makaveli – 7 Day Theory
Nas – Stillmatic
Donny Hathaway – Extension of A Man
Joe Budden – Joe Budden, MM1, MM2, MM3
Skyzoo – Cloud 9
Little Brother – Get Back
Jay-Z – Black Album
David Ruffin – David
Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor, The Cool
Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind
Gil Scott-Heron – Spirits, Small Talk @ 125th and Lenox
Jodeci – Forever My Lady, Diary of A Mad Band
8. What is inspiring your work right now?
I ain’t trying to be cliché but Life, the current state of music and the changes that it is going through, women, my accomplishments and my shortcomings and alot of reading that I been doing lately.
9. What advice would you offer to someone getting in the business at this time?
Just be yourself, if you ain’t a thug or sell drugs don’t spit it like you live it, if you don’t dig tight ass t-shirts and tight jeans, dont wear it because some other nigga is doing it…Listen to different kinds of music not just rap. Don’t just read the same kind of magazine or book read all kinds of different shit and don’t mess with the same type of women…You won’t learn shit and your mentality and character won’t grow. As many have always said: take constructive criticism for what it is and learn from that shit too. Don’t just let your homies or your family hear your shit, let the world hear it, they’re the real judges. Lastly, don’t be afraid to take chances and focus more on making your music tight, dont worry about the record deal…that shit will wear you out.
10. Any words to live by?
Pray and dig deep into what you believe regardless if it is astrology, math english or even music. Be comfortable with who you really are and what you truly believe in because that’s the only way you will be successful in this world. Oh and…Know.Mally.Know.Life-Know.Them.Know.Nothing
I want to thank Mally for doing this interview with the quickness! I love email haha! You can download his debut project The Letter here
You can also download his latest offering The Moment here (which features our CRAZY ILL collabo “The Head Nod”–MC’s, you are officially on notice!)
Finally you can hear Mally get loose on 2 songs from my upcoming mixtape Bring Me the Head of Zilla Rocca! dropping in SEPTEMBER!
And be sure to add him on MySpace here