Interview: Mali Music Talks Mali Is Album, Sharing Story, Continuing to Make Inspirational Music
When Mali Music’s new album “Mali Is…” releases in a couple of weeks, it will be a milestone achievement for the inspirational rnb singer. Having already released two successful albums on his own, his debut Bystorm Entertainment/RCA release should give him an added boost to gain the recognition he do deserves. The impactful single “Beautiful” is already having a strong presence on radio and resonating very well with all who hear it. YouKnowIGotSoul sat down with Mali Music once again and had him break down the new album, talked about his journey, working with Jerry Wonda, righting for Jennifer Hudson, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The new album “Mali Is…” is coming out June 17th. I saw on Twitter that you can’t wait for people to hear this story. Introduce us to this story you’ll be sharing.
Mali Music: 2009 was when I dropped my initial album “2econd Coming” and we made a huge impact in the underground world and definitely in the Christian community. It was very awesome. There were also some crossover hits from that and I had good opportunities to sing on stage at BET: Music Matters and stuff like that. I was also at the BET Awards from those types of stuff. It was very good, but one thing I recognized from the songs I released on YouTube translated into songs that I would do live, everybody had a different definition of me. It was like “Mali is alternative, a soul singer, worshipper and he plays ballads!” So “Mali Is…” is going to be dropping on June 17th and it is the truth about Mali Music from Mali Music himself. Of course there are different interpretations from everybody, but this is like “Take it or leave it. Hopefully you take it.” I’m really excited for everybody to see what’s been happening from the time I was 17 when I dropped that album to now. I think it’s going to be very impactful.
YouKnowIGotSoul: So were you just inspired by just things you’ve been through along the journey?
Mali Music: Definitely paying a lot attention to being honest about the incline or the rise to the top. A lot of the videos or a lot of the interviews we see whether we have the Gucci shirt or the chains, we’re making it really beautiful. Those are the beautiful sides of it. But we might not be as outward about the loneliness or the trust or friends who leave you and change. We might not be as out about how success can make you feel. That’s one reason why I respect certain people like Drake. The fact he’s just being outright about the things going on and he’s still representing his city. I’m just doing that on a larger scale and larger in the sense of the human soul and the things we all feel. We take our chains off and we do whatever we do, we’re still a person. We have weaknesses and fears. I want to make the music that people listen to during that point of their life. I just want to cater to the human aspect and to have that balance.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know you love to inspire people with your music. When they hear this album, how do you want them to feel?
Mali Music: When people listen to this album, I want them to feel where I’m coming from and recognize that “If not trust me, trust the God I serve.” These are the things I’m led to share and I believe it’s going to be impactful. It’s going to be impactful and it’s going to bring a community back to the families. It’s going to be something that every aspect of family can enjoy. Something that a parent would mind his daughter listening to or a son being a fan of that music. Just touching families and bringing positive living to the forefront. It’s out there and it’s needed.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I read the album sonically takes you back to Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. Talk about the sound of the album.
Mali Music: It’s kind of like the old redone. It’s like a new vintage. I think the best is Raphael Saadiq who really took to it with 100 Yard Dish and Keep Marchin and all that stuff he’s really doing. I wanted to take it there and bring it to my generation. The people who are my age and people who see me in themselves, I wanted to change the realities of people who want to listen to some music to turn up. They turned up to something that came out yesterday and now they just want to calm down. For that, you have to go back to something that’s recorded in 1960. I think that’s just really crazy. I just wanted to be able to put something modern and in 2014, I just want it to be wholesome.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The single “Beautiful” is doing very well on the radio. What’s the response from people who have heard it?
Mali Music: A lot of love. On top of that, people are very surprised to hear the song as many times as it has on the radio. That’s a dream come true. Especially for mostly an underground guy like me. I was a person who had 5 or 6 hit songs, but no one ever heard them on the radio. To be plugged into the machine and to be offering the positivity, no compromise, nothing that I don’t want to take back from it and for it to be circulating like that is a joy. I never would have put those two things together. The fact that it happened is awesome and I feel very blessed. I’m grateful for the impact that it has had on everyone. It’s causing people to speak back to me like “You’re doing it. I heard this song, it’s awesome. Just keep going.” That makes me feel very good.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You mentioned in our first interview that you signed to RCA and you said that you were going to go in a more secular direction. We got some responses from followers of you who were skeptical of your new direction and leaving your Gospel behind. How would you respond to those people and let them know that you’re still making positive music?
Mali Music: I think the most important thing I had to learn was that I didn’t have to respond at all. It was never a situation that I was indebted or owed anyone anything. The fact that I was sharing my music was a gift. Even though it was a situation where it was about loyalty, I didn’t have to explain anything. But it was a situation where I wanted to be clear and if you want to get the clearest explanation as to what Mali Music is and what this sounds like, pre-order this CD. It drops June 17th. You’ll understand everything Mali is. I think it’ll just be clear. That was a very early time before we even knew when the release was going to be or what the singles were going to be. We had no idea. It had no shape or form. That’s when everybody started planting rumors. As soon as Tim Tebow or somebody decides that they’re thinking about going to another team, the city that they’re leaving is going to be upset and the other team is going to be excited. Once everything is facilitated, then the story starts to come together and the rumors start to fall off. It was an opportunity for the media to bring some negativity, but it hasn’t destroyed anything and it can’t. I think it’s very clear what Mali is and what Mali is doing. I can’t wait for that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We’ve come across Jerry Wonda very often and he always raves about you. Talk about your chemistry with him.
Mali Music: Jerry Wonda is amazing. He produced “Going To November”. This dude rocked with The Fugees and on top of that, he was one of the first people Mark Pitts set me up with when I initially signed with RCA. That was amazing. Jerry is very giving and his knowledge and experiences is amazing. He’s also a musician’s musician. He has all types of music, congos, shakers, bass and guitars all around him. It felt like home for me. We just really hit it off strong. I will always respect him and thank him for the monsters that we were able to make together. He definitely started something new and big as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We read that you wrote for Jennifer Hudson?
Mali Music: I’m very excited about Jennifer Hudson’s album. Her approach and career, it’s an opportunity for someone who is that talented to challenge it through an album. It’s not easy at all. A lot of people enjoy her live performances, her movies and her singing with the big voices and big belting, I just wanted to bring that musicality back to the forefront. I’m grateful for the opportunity by Clive Davis and Jennifer Hudson. Jerry set the whole thing up. We did most of the work at his studio. We did some amazing stuff. It just feels really good to be part of something so big. We saw her doing an event the other day and she just looks good and sounds good. We’re just going to bring back the music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your live show. The energy is off the charts and it’s amazing to witness. Talk about the work you put into your live show.
Mali Music: It’s funny because when I think of a song, I’m thinking about the opportunity that I can interact with an audience or a group of people. That’s why before anybody knows the song, I make sure I leave a section for people to say stuff. Once we get into arenas, lounges or clubs and we’re singing this stuff out and there’s an opportunity to sing back, there’s something really powerful to me about public singing. For you to be out on a night with you and your man or you and your woman, it’s just an opportunity for some magic to happen. The chemistry is much better than them liking my music and buying my album, it’s just two people who are human and agreeing like “I stand for that”. The live show is an opportunity to touch the people who are supporting the music. For them to come out and to be like “I bought 4 of your albums and I’m so happy to hear that story!” It’s just a blessing to see how genuine the responses are because they understood how genuine the natural thing was. That’s one of the reasons why I’m really excited about the album because as I travel, my fans translate to me how they see it and how it came and what the heartbeat of the community is. It’s just a great way for me to stay instrumental and know how to help.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
Mali Music: I just want everyone to follow me @MaliMusic. Make sure you pre-order the new CD “Mali is…” which is out June 17th.