FEATURE: MALAKI TALKS IRISH HIP-HOP, POETRY, ALTER EGO’S AND THE RIDDLER

Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences? What music was playing around the house as a kid? 

I never really came from a musical background so I really had to follow my own musical journey as a kid. When I was 8 years old I discovered Michael Jackson and fell in love. I would play his music everywhere I went and danced like he would in my room and eventually at family events when my sister caught me one time.

Your verses always hit more like poetry that has been seamlessly composed rather than individual bars put together. Could you give us a break down on your writing process? Did you write pure poetry before creating music? 

I’ve been writing poetry since I was 15. In secondary school, it was the only subject that interested me. Taking a simple task and finding the beauty within it. I began spending more time writing my own poetry in school than studying which eventually worked out for me. 

Fair play with Lucy McWilliams was an incredible track, how did this collaboration come about? 

Lucy McWilliams has been a friend of mine since I was about 16. When we linked up with Matthew Harris who produced the track the room was bursting with creativity. The three of us have quite a special bond when it comes to music and one summers day we hopped in the studio and “Fair Play” just came out. We didn’t realise how good it was until we released it. 

You burst onto the seen with the incredibly intricate wordplay displayed on Call Us By Our Names, what comment on society was this track making and what made this track the one you wanted to debut with?

I wrote this track when I was 19 in some of my darkest times. I was frustrated with life and the fact that nothing was working out for me with friends family and work. I guess I just wanted the kids like me to not feel alone when they listened to it.  

How big of an influence has US hip hop had on your own sound? On your Mount Rushmore of Hip-Hop are there more US or UK rappers? Who makes it on your list of greatest rappers of all time? 

I take massive influence from both US and UK artists but recently I’ve been listening to a lot more UK. If I had to pick 3 it would be Nas, Mac Miller and Loyle Carner. 

The Riddler shows us a totally different side of your artistry than i think we have got to see thus far. Who produced this track and what was this track your reaction to the frustrations of lockdown and the state of the world right now? 

Matthew Harris produced this track. He is someone I work very closely with because we have an understanding of each other musically and we are best friends. “The Riddler” stemmed from an alter ego I created for this EP called “Calvero” this character is a personification of myself in my darkest times. I got the idea for the name from an old film called “Limelight” which was starring Charlie Chaplin wearing a face of makeup, hence why I wear it. The makeup is a sort of mask I use to give the audience the idea of who or what the character is. 

Do you try and draw on elements of traditional irish music in your beats, (the pipes in Cavalier for example)? How does your local creative scene and history influence you as an artist? 

Well spotted with Cavalier! But yes my local creative scene has a massive impact on me. Dublin is obviously a very small city but it is flourishing with new and alternative creative talent! I try my best to collaborate or even just bounce ideas off each other. I love to see another artist in my area succeed as it allows the rest of the community to strive for better whilst also supporting them any way they can. The Irish really look after our communities and people when it comes to creativity (except when it’s the government). 

Are there any other Irish musicians/ Mc’s/ creatives that you are a big fan of that you think we should check out? 

At the moment my favourite artists are called “Chamomile Records” a small self-owned record label from Dublin. Comprised of Aby Coulibaly, Moyo and Monjola! These guys are gonna be big! And I’m lucky to call them my friends. They always bring a smile to my face creatively and as friends. 

Lastly, you’re a proud Dubliner so I have to ask, if  you wanted to show someone the real heart of your hometown, where would you take them to get some good food and to see some dope music? 

Good question! Personally, I’d take you to my house cus my mam cooks the best food! Then out for pints to my local pub and then we go out to the town to a place called Whelans which before the pandemic would be thriving with the best talent Ireland has to offer!