Interview: Mali Music
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:09:41
“It's like a seed,” Mali Music says of his flawless new album Mali Is.... “When you put it down, it produces fruit. Within those fruit are other seeds to produce more. I'm really hoping for the harvest, the development, awakening, and inspiration of true artistry and bringing depth back to the forefront.”
If anybody can do it, it’s Mali Music. Mali Is... stands at a crossroads between soulful R&B, deft hip-hop, elegant alternative, and even gospel shine. That’s what makes it such a powerful and poetic journey. That’s also why it’s got downright revolutionary implications for music...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Mali Music discusses Mali Is… and so much more.
What ties the album together for you?
It's a film. It's a storybook. There are a lot of people who love "Beautiful", but that's like chapter three in a twelve-chapter book. If you read through any book or watch any movie and you stop before the resolve, the only thing you get is that incomplete confusion. It's one of the blessings of having an album. I want to bring good albums back to the forefront and not just good singles and popcorn stuff that will make a lot of money now. I wanted to sacrifice upfront to put something out that was strong enough to last for the long haul. Hopefully, everything comes at the end of the day. I believe good things come to people who are patient and faithful.
You're telling stories on each song, but there's an overall narrative to the album. Did you approach it with that mindset or did the music dictate that?
It's a mixture of both. As long as you come into the studio serious and open to really giving it your best and trying to create a sound that's authentic and genuine to you, which can also be a tool of hope and healing, I think they'll join together at the end of the day. It's like the theme of the album being Mali Is.... Before Mali Is... was out, there was a whole question of who I was, what I did, and how I did it. The versatility was always a blessing and a curse. There were people who loved me but only saw me behind a piano and didn't know I played guitar. Other people saw me with a guitar and didn't know I rapped. Some saw me sing but didn't know I was a storyteller. Take that mixed with the religion. With the confinements of everybody's desire for me, I had to back up and say, "Wait, hold on! This is what it is. Boom". Mali Is..., from one to twelve, gives everyone that picture. They can say, "Okay!" No one is left out. It's all-inclusive. I'm still me.
What's the story behind "Fight For You"?
It's one of the dope songs from the album. It was produced by D'Mile. When he played the track, it was already so special. It had some elements to it. After tweaking some little things here and there, I was like, "This is really good". I envisioned an opportunity on-stage to have a chant with the audience members who are familiar with the song. It could cause us to be encouraging to each other within our hearts and spirits. It's like, "Hey, I'll fight for you". There's somebody else out here who cares. Once that happened, I was able to come out of myself. I could feed off the things I was seeing in the business at the time and the transitions in my life and world. It's not over, and we're still in it. It's like two teams are playing each other. If one is down by ten, the whole team has to have this fight all of a sudden like, "Okay, I'll fight for you. Let's do it". Before you know it, they win the game. It's like that. I wanted to have something out there to inspire. Everybody might not feel like they need that, but I want them to have it for when they do. For the most part, the people who were able to experience the heart of the song are really appreciative of it.
Where did "I Believe" come from?
That's one of the songs that sealed the deal with my record deal. It heavily impacted Mark Pitts. I recorded it almost five years ago. It's a really old recording, and it's so authentic to what it was. I was actually in Texas doing some writing for another artist. That was one of the songs that just popped out based how I was feeling at the time. It just carried over, and it was the perfect ending. I did a couple of re-recordings. They were awesome, but the original had the gravity. I can't wait to perform it live and unpack it into today. With the war and everything happening today, I think it could bring people comfort. It's a really beautiful song. I've heard it mentioned as a masterpiece by some. All of that makes me really happy and causes my hart to overflow with joy that people not only love the song but get it. That's a blessing.
Have you already begun working on more music?
I've already finished the next three albums [Laughs]. The hard thing on tour is not to open with one of the songs! It's a blessing to be before your time, but it also requires a huge amount of discipline and patience. This is the first step for us to go up. Before you know it, we're going to be on the next floor. It'll be a good time for music and for humanity.
What artists shaped you?
D'Angelo is one of the greats! He can't go away. I never hear one of his records and skip it. I really love D'Angelo. He definitely influenced me. I was able to see Prince live at Essence this year. It was the bow on top of all the things you hear and the hits. I always go back and watch old footage of Nina Simone too.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
This would be the first The Matrix! You all know how that went [Laughs]. It's my favorite movie. I love the entire trilogy. They're all amazing. I really like the action. It was so forward and ahead of its time visually. The concept was so in-depth. You could eat off it forever. It definitely woke me up.
Have you heard Mali Is...?