North Carolina is known for many things. Most notably, it’s the home of Duke and the University of North Carolina where legacies of Michael Jordan and Coach “K” started. The state has been in the news recently, but for more unfortunate reasons that I won’t get into because I’m pretty sure WordPress is owned and operated by fascists. That’s heresy. Or is it?
ANYWAY, I was fortunate to sit down with a much brighter spot from that region, Mallz. If you’re not familiar with the rapping man from the land of Raleigh-Durham, hit the jump and press play on his new single, “Sleeping Giant,” and then sit down and take a breath full of everything Mallz, Voltron, Plymouth Reliants, and star-studded rap collabs:
Verbal Spacey: If you could, give us a little difference between The I In Team, your forthcoming album with X3M, and Service Entrance, your album released just over a year ago.
Mallz: When I started working on Service Entrance back in 2007, my group that I had been in since my sophomore year in college parted ways and I wanted to make an album that was all about me. I’ve been rapping for a really long time and most of that time has been as a part of a group so it was really important for me to establish myself as a solo artist and not just “that guy from this group” or “So And So’s homeboy”. I really wanted to go back to the days when an emcee held down a whole album by himself – no features. With The I In Team, I wanted to do the opposite. I started working on it during the summer of 2011 and I never reached out to other rappers for my own songs, so I decided to holla at a couple of people (thank God and Oprah for Twitter). I actually came up with the title back in 2006 or so when a member of my old group and I were going to do an album as a duo. Glad that album never happened…I kinda suck at coming up with titles.
VS: The I In Team is of the one-MC-one-producer mold that, if Chris and I at TECB can speak for all, everyone enjoys. Do you have a preference of working with one producer over working with many for one project?
M: I can’t say I prefer it over working with many producers for the simple fact that I get in moods where I’m really diggin’ a certain thing for a certain amount of time. I’m what some would call a “hip-hop purist”. I like the consistency of working with just one producer for a project, but I also like the variety of sounds you get from working with a number of producers. Just so happens that I have three solo projects coming out this year, all of which are just one MC/one producer. I will say, it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to work with just one producer.
VS: To me, it seems like there is a greater chance of cohesiveness with one producer on one project, but on Service Entrance for example, the handful of production credits didn’t deter from the album.On that album you worked with Nubbz and now X3M, two overseas based producers, how does a Carolinian hook up with a Dutchman and a Serbian?
M: Yeah, it’s definitely easier to get a consistent vibe, working with one producer. I linked up with Nubbz on Twitter. I have no idea how we ended up following each other. I just remember the album being almost finished, and I was wanting an intro track to set it off. I got at Nubbz and asked him for something with horns to open up the album and that was that.
X 3M actually contacted me first, last year, through Myspace of all places. He worked with my man, Big Hop on a couple of projects and I guess Hop told him about me. Normally, when I get an email saying I have a Myspace message, I’ll just delete it right away but I happened to check the message that day. The first joint we did together was a song called “The Way That It Is” on his album, titled Junkyard. Then he came up with the idea of doing an EP together and I loved that he had a different sound than a lot of other producers so I was more than down to collab. We exchanged email addresses and started working.
VS: Damn I should check my MySpace to see if it has any messages. Hip-hop is definitely global, there is no denying that, but closer to home is AMSOC, The First In Flight State’s rap coalition that you call family. Is the Alpha Male Society like a Wu-Tang Clan, guys that came up rhyming together or more of a Slaughterhouse, guys that got together later in their rhyming lives to form a Voltron-like unit?
M: We come together like Voltron, and Gza just happens to be the head, nahm’sayn. Nah, but we’re a collective of emcees – in the same vein as Native Tongues, DITC, Juice Crew, The Gangstarr Foundation, etc. There’s actually a duo within the collective called N’dangr Species. Alpha Male Society is Big Hop’s brainchild. He hit everyone up around September of 2011 or so and explained his vision and we were all down to combine our talents and resources. Everyone in AMSOC is from a different place – I’m in Raleigh, but I’m from a small, northeastern NC town called Harrellsville, Big Hop is from Newport News, Va, Luse Kanz is from Brooklyn. The crazy thing is, Big Hop, Luse Kanz, Maf Maddix and I all went to the same college together but we never linked up while we were there. I had my little crew, Big Hop had his and I believe Luse and Maf were soloists. I knew about Diablo Archer from an old NC based hip hop message board back in ’04 and I was introduced to H2OKZ and Don DiGiorgio from checking out their collabs with Big Hop. So yeah, we rep Raleigh, Greenville, Rocky Mount, Greensboro, Newport News, etcetera…etcetera…etceteraaaa. I might be the only rapper to use a reference from The King And I.
VS: Rogers and Hammerstein were the Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz of their day. Wait… what? With AMSOC projects, your own projects, and a 9-to-5, is it hard to go from working-stiff mode to rap-mode? Since I’ve started blogging and interacting with tons of artists I’ve been humbled by the fact most artists are regular folks just like me. When I wasn’t blogging and was “just” a fan, the thought of artists needing to pay rent, mortgages, car payments, and Girls Gone Wild subscriptions never crossed my mind.
M: You love the combination of steel drums and drunken, co-ed boobs too, huh? Balancing a day job with my music isn’t too hard, considering the fact that I don’t really do a whole lot else. I’ve never been the type to hang out a lot, so unless I’m at a show, I’m at the crib, writing rhymes, watching movies or chilling.
It is frustrating, however, because I’m broke as hell; working for someone else and their vision when I could be broke as hell, working for myself and my own vision. Everyday I wake up imagining me telling my boss to kiss every ass he can find, but I think about these bills and student loans…then I clock in and zone out for eight hours.
VS: Telling a boss to kiss an ass or many ass is a dream of mine. Another dream of mine is dropping an Echo Chamber LP featuring Kool G Rap on every track. And yet another dream of mine is to grow most of, if not all of my hair back. But more importantly, it’s the second dream. If Mallz found a magic rap-genie lamp, who would Mallz rap with if cost was no option and was just about making music?
M: Man, it could take me all day to answer that question. There’s so many guys I would be honored to trade bars with so I’ll cheat and name a few of em. Rakim and Big Daddy Kane are at the top of the list. They were, and still are my hip hop heroes. Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, the entire Native Tongue crew, Elzhi, Jean Grae, Skyzoo, Phonte, Heltah Skeltah and just for the hell of it, The Rapping Duke. His infatuation with Aretha Franklin bordered scary.
I guess that’s more than a few, huh?
VS: Duh-ha, duh-ha. I have a similar infatuation with Lois Griffin. I’ve been told she’s not real. Mallz with Ruck n’ Rock would be dope, so when that TECB album gets in motion I’ll make that happen. I’ll just need to sell a couple of kidneys and livers and ovaries first.
What’s next on the rap-docket for Mallz? A couple more projects you mentioned for this year, but shed some light on what’s in the pipeline or the think tank. I imagine there is a tank filled with rhymes and piranhas. Because that’s the exact opposite of blogging. Our words come from Kotex boxes.
M: I actually have Jabberjaw and Snorks in my think tank. Just in case you’ve been wondering where they’ve been all these years. I have The I In Team coming May 25th. I also have an EP with Dr. Khil called Penstroke Of Genius that I’m finishing up and looking to release in the fall. Then professional basketball player/rapper/producer/grilled cheese sandwich chef, Dotta and I are releasing an album called Hustler Of Culture, which I’m looking to have out by the winter. Not to mention my monthly EPs with Alpha Male Society and various shows around and possibly outside of North Carolina. I’ll also be working on a one man production of the Broadway hit, Grease.
VS: Mallz as Danny Zuko AND Sandy Olsson. Sign me up. Now the gloves come off and I can get my Katie Couric on; If you could pick one car from the 80′s to turn into a spaceship, which one would it be?
M: At first, I thought of a Delorean but actually, the A-Team’s van would be so bad ass in space. I’d have to have the theme music playing at all times though.
VS: I’m sorry the correct answer was: Plymouth Reliant. Is there anything you want to share with he droves of TECB fans that they may not know? You’ve been given a soap box, do with it what you will.
M: A soapbox, eh. This is my fourth album, and I ain’t made a dime yet! But seriously, folks…I just wanna say I appreciate everyone who has supported me in any way throughout my journey in this rappity rap biz. Anyone who has listened to or downloaded a song, anyone who’s come to a show or told a friend about me. I try to make sure I’m saying something worthwhile with each verse because there may be someone out there who is like I was as a kid. I want to make sure I’m putting out not only good music, but music that will build people up and inspire them.
As always, stay tuned and keep your eyes and ears locked to TECB for the latest and greatest in Indie rap news and sound bytes. A special shout out and thank you to Mallz for taking the time for the interview and dealing with my immaturity. If you have any follow-up questions or you want to get to know Mallz better, follow him on Twitter, @mallz. And go check out his Bandcamp as well as AMSOC, his crew’s Bandcamp.
Filed under: Album Talk/Review, For All The Broke Willies, Hip-Hop, Interviews, Music Tagged: | AMSOC, Dotta, Dr. Khil, Khil Shot Mallz, Mallz, North Carolina hip-hop, Penstroke of Genius, rap interviews, Service Entrance, Sleeping Giant, The I in Team, Voltron, X3M