Mali Music is a unique talent with a passion that runs far deeper than what average words can explain. With conversation like art, lyrics that hit home and sound mirroring tranquility, he continues to create music you can feel. His latest release, “Let Go,” embodies all of the above.
On January 30th, Mali Music premiered “Let Go.” The song, which speaks to hope and perseverance, came to be after his friend David “D1” Grant, Jr. (who also co-produced the song) sent the beat for it and said, “this had me contemplating about the act of ‘letting go,” as Mali Music recalls.
“A week or so before that, I was sending him some songs that I was writing, one entitled ‘Cry.’ In a playlist of music called the ‘Succession Kit,’ one of the lyrics said ‘It’s like the world cries any time you’re happy. Well, cry on.’ It was one of the things we were vibing on, so he made ‘Let Go’ and sent it back,” Mali Music continued. “When penning the song, I wanted to grab all of his emotions from the small write up he had and make it make sense to the music and be honest too. He was talking about addictions, so I incorporated mine as well as what his could have possibly been, so all manner of addiction is in the song. The key to breaking free is in the song as well.”
“Let Go” is the first single tied to his K Approved Enterprises partnership with RCA Inspiration. In our interview below, Mali Music explains the significance of the partnership, reveals how he began fulfilling his purpose and shares why he’s excited about birthing culture to his unique style of music…
ALIYA FAUST: What does a partnership like this mean?
MALI MUSIC: As many might have seen, I was signed before and that was through Sony and RCA through ByStorm. There was also a Billboard release that just came out that said ‘Mali Music Signs To RCAI’ and it kinda made my stomach turn because of how far I’ve come, for that not to be a headline. But, mistakes are made and fixed. What it means to be in a partnership like this is to have the opportunity to deliver music, content, media, books or any art form that can be sold or manufactured. It’s a guarantee that I have a support system or a team of people who will be willing to release and process my music or my ideas on a mainstream or worldwide scale which means I won’t be having to prove to my friends or my company or my partners that I’m worth the sacrifice or risk or the money. It’s a relationship or partnership where I’m not dancing with other people to say I’m worth what they put in to. I pretty much get the portions I make for myself and when I ask for something, we come into agreement with each other and we put it out together. I’ve been in the balance for a while and I’ve had my portion of living life willingly as the Gospel artist that I never expected to be and also willing doing it as the transitioning Gospel artist that I never volunteered to be and also as the definitive transitioning artist that I never intended to be, so this means me literally being able to be an artist and no one overly having to wonder “Well, why is he doing it with them? Why is he doing it with them? Why is he doing it with them?” This is Mali’s company. I learned in my first month, in my independent opportunity, when I was with my mother, that’s when we were doing everything, literally. The label was on us if we needed to sell a thousand CDs, we needed to package 1,000 CDs in the living room and write a thousand addresses on papers. I already experienced that 8 years in. This time, we’re equally vulnerable in the success and failure of everything that makes Mali Music and K Approved. In this season, I’m not interested in what people ask. I’m very interested in the things that I am asking for like to speak to you and others. I love getting into this because it wasn’t pressure of me to succeed, it wasn’t just pressure on them to succeed, but we all agreed that we automatically are going tone successful with the humility that God receives it and we’re able to do something detrimental and impactful in the earth and the kingdom.
Earlier you mentioned transitioning into something you never intended on becoming and in that Billboard article, you mentioned how you felt like your purpose was being fulfilled. So, what was your vision v.s. what you found God’s vision to be for you?
From the beginning, God instructed me and gave me a gift to lead and since my career started, I’ve been following. I’ve been a leader in the eyes of those who follow my music and those who love my craft, but I haven’t been trusted by those in my life to be responsible for what God has given me without their help, concern or prayers. That right there is something that I always wanted to be connected to because that could kind of stifle me in a way because it did make me more afraid than recognize that I’m able. So, there were some things that I wanted to be exposed to that those that love me might not have felt that I should be exposed to whether that’s care or concern or whether they didn’t want to be associated with somebody like I. I have a big brother or passionate mother that will happily go out and fight my fights for me. I might never have an opportunity to get in a fight or make a friend so it was just kind of cool for those things to happen and for me to come to contact with my destiny and fulfill in time and the shifting of God’s hands to ultimately shake everybody who wasn’t going to be with me away even though they saw what they could do, there was still something called for me to do. There was somebody on the sidelines who could play quarterback. There’s one starting quarterback that could take us to the Super Bowl and that’s not all of them.
We all kind of get entangled in the world and our own desires at times with obstacles of… work, life, spiritual, love. You actually talk about that a lot in “Let Go.” So, how do you balance the outside?
I came into it open. The first thing, since a boy, that I’ve never just even thought was not of God, were styles of music. I thought if you have a relationship with God and you’re like ‘Hey, what do you want to do?’ I like flowers and God let me draw this rose good. I was the type of kid who wanted to draw all types of flowers good because now flowers belong to God. I would not believe I would come in contact with a flower that was not of, made by or made to the edification of God. Based on my infatuation with the flowers which was based on actual music genres. Not music in itself. Mali Music isn’t based off of just music. Mali Music is based off of the endless world of musical genres and being able to fill my endless self. There was no other genre or thing or person or ideal big enough other than saved by God that could contain me other than the endless genres of music because I was going to run off the Reggae page. I was going run off the Gospel page. I was going to run off all the pages, so if I could get the all the musical genres, that would be enough to confine me. If you can guess all the styles of music, then you can guess me and they’re still being born.
Trap music was a genre. Just like I went through all of the boring genres, I could live through the cool ones. So, I’ll happily go through folk, classical and all the ensemble stuff and all of the background stuff. Then, I’ll do the homework. That’s when you have to go back to Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. Then, you have to move up to the gospel Sam Cooke. He’s got like 200 songs and so does Bob Marley. Then, you get into Otis Redding. Then you start mixing cover music. That goes into the Motown Era and then you get into Quincy Jones. He had his own style. Music got me in contact with different types of people I was inspired by that didn’t make me think about their walks of life. It was like meeting a whole bunch of athletes. I could want to be like them all. So coming past that, I got into reggae. My mom got scared when I touched reggae. In high school, I had reggae colors, Bob Marley clothes. I was so submerged into the culture because it was the first genre where you could hear lyrics that said “Until the philosophy which holds one man superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned.” I said, ok, this what I’m trying to be a part of. And then when you listen to folk music, it’s a dissertation words. They could just say everything that they felt. Once hip-hop came, I was a boy from the south, so once G-Unit came around, we were making the beats they were using. I was a part of that dirty South movement. When I would here how the guys in New York were putting beats together, they weren’t as complex as the south, but they were mean and aggressive, I just wanted to be a part of that culture. I wanted my music to be able to be “mean” in that way too. I always wondered if there were genres of music that made the enemy afraid or if there was music that made the devil tremble. I was always trying to find that study and validate it through the music. The things I didn’t find I created. And the things that were already founded, I used. I got caught up in all of them. My mom wasn’t just worried about reggae music, she was just trying to find out if I was getting caught up in reggae culture which involved marijuana. My mom wasn’t just afraid of me getting involved in punk rock music, [she was worried about the acid culture]. There were always these cultures that came around the music that I didn’t know and that’s what made me excited to do what I’m doing now because now I get to birth the culture to my music.
I didn’t realize you’ve done so much music with your family. Would you consider doing more with them in the future?
Absolutely. That was one of the reasons why I started the label. So artists like my sister and people who I feel are already ready for the world to hear them and I could just protect them from all the things that got me, but still allow their voice and gifts to be heard. I want to create a house and a hub where all of those unique types of people who believe in the Lord, who love the Lord, who have spiritual gifts, where they could be implemented for all the world to see and also be protected by everything that is inside of K Approved.
We’ve got the new partnership, new single, new lyric video… What’s next for Mali Music in 2020?
We’re very excited to present the full album. But, I wanted to be sensitive in spirit and entrepreneurially on how we released music this year since the world and the musical industry is changing. Initially, I was very excited coming into the game because I came in on the very last quarter where selling albums was popular. “Mali Is…” was my dream. I wanted to sell a lot of records. Now, in the culture, it’s not about selling records. It’s about streams and seeing if people can get on streaming sites and for how long and if your music is on a playlist. Your music can get looked-over a lot easier now. So, I wanted to flow with the spirit as the industry is settling on how it’s going to distributing and receiving music as well as manufacturing it. We’re going to be releasing [the album] throughout the year, so by the end of the year, it will be the final phase. The last four songs will be the completion of 12 songs. I’m going to use time, the year and the flow of current events that we have learned and don’t know are coming to make the perfect album mixed with current events, cutting edge technology and content that speaks to it all. “Let Go” is the first chapter of the first phase which is going to be four songs coming in [January, February and March]. Then, it’s the new season. Four will be coming and we’re going to be releasing a short film compiling all of the songs with lyrics videos that we have and content and extra things so everyone can get the fullness of the songs and we go through the year together.
Yea, it’s kind of like a short movie instead of a music video. It’s been done before, but not by me. I feel like it will be the best way for everyone to get all of the content since we have so many cool ideas. However, I want time and the Lord to navigate the narrative along with me. I could’ve had an idea as I did at the end of 2019 of how it would have been, but I didn’t even have in mind that Kobe Bryant could die. So, those are the sensitive things that could change the tone of an entire album. It’s very important that I continue to stay connected to the pulse of the need of the people for real and not get washed away envisioning a narrative that wouldn’t be relevant to the needs of the people.
Interesting you say that. We’re talking about the changes of the music industry and how it’s received, so the way you’re distributing it is admirable, especially when you reflect on how music used to be shared to specifically move culture and institute change or reinforce ideas.
History is just repeating itself.
So, last question. Inquiring minds want to know… Jonathan McReynolds posted a photo on Instagram of you guys moving boxes. Is there a collab coming soon?
Yeah, absolutely. It was like a dream come true. I would say on that end, for both of us. We were at TBN in Orlando with Tye Tribbett. I sung my voice out during the performance and yelling and supporting my friends only for Jonathan McReynolds to kind of corner me at the hotel and say “We’re recording a song tonight in my hotel room.” And it ended up actually happening. He has pictures of him throwing pillows and towels over my head so we could get the perfect sound in the mic. It was a whole joke, but we ended up making a beautiful song named “Moving On” which he was able to take back to and make beautiful. It’s really symbolic and cool. It’s like a sub category to the single “Let Go.” He was shooting the video for it. I’m in support of him and everything they’re doing over there at eOne. He asked me to come shoot the video and I went out there and that was one of the things from it. He’s excited about it and I am too.