Mala Reignz – Scholar, Rapper, and Musician

This is Part 2 of the Mala Reignz interview I conducted for DOPEfm.

Go back and read Part 1, download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or just pick it up here and keep reading. Thanks! 

Chase: “We’re back with Mala Reignz. We just played ‘Dum Da Dum (OMG).’ I so love that song and the video is simply amazing!” 
Mala: “Thank you, thank you.”
Chase: “Yeah, it was my first taste of your music and I remember I tweeted about it, ‘This video is amazing!’ and almost right away you’re manager, Nicky Jaaamz found it and said, ‘Oh, thanks.’ So I started talking with her and then finally got the set up to talk to you.”

Mala: “Nicky is a beast. She will respond to anybody talking to me.”
Chase: “That’s really cool. It’s interesting to see the power of social media because in the old days of doing radio, we would get hit up by some managers or artists or we’d go out and actively seek somebody. But I just sent out a pretty innocent tweet because I wanted people to watch that video because I really enjoyed it and pretty soon I’m talking to you manager and I’m talking to you. It’s pretty amazing how small the world is now with social media.”
Mala: “Absolutely, yeah, she’s definitely focused and working hard. We set up interviews with everyone and everybody. Some people might be picky and choosey when it comes to doing interviews, but we just want everybody to hear our music and get to every market possible.”
Chase: “Very cool. We’re a little show in Canada so a little bit removed from you but we podcast it and get it played worldwide. We have a nice blog as well, so it will definitely give you some exposure. Like you said, some artists that don’t want to talk to the smaller stations kind of hurt themselves sometimes.”
Mala: “Absolutely. It’s a market just like any other market. I’ve never been to Canada, and you never know who is listening. Maybe I’ll get a show out of Canada.”
Chase: “That would be awesome! I listened to campus radio well before I ever landed on it. And quite frankly, I’m surprised that I’m here some days because that is where I got my hip-hop from growing up. Campus radio plays some great stuff. They’ve got some great mix shows, and low and behold I found myself on the other side of the mic instead of the phone lines calling in. It’s pretty amazing.”
Mala: “That’s right. You never know.”
Chase: “You’ve had a little bit of a journey too. From what I understand, you didn’t originally start out as a rapper, you were a writer and a poet before decided to rap.”
Mala: “I would have never thought that I’d be doing this. I didn’t even start rapping until I was in college. This was not my dream from when I was a little girl. I always wanted to be an entertainer but I had no idea what kind. I thought, maybe an actress. I used to act in plays and stuff like that, and I used to want to be an author and I would write. And when I was in college, just because of personal reasons, I just needed an outlet. I would go to the open-mics at my school and perform my poetry.
My poetry always rhymed because I didn’t know any other way. I thought poems had to rhyme so I would rhyme in my poems. I never really paid attention to it but I would always write with music on in the background and I was writing to the beat without realizing I was writing to the beat.
So every time I would perform my poetry, it had a rhythm to it. People would ask me, ‘Do you rap? Do you ever write rhymes?’ and I’d be like, ‘No, what are you talking about? I’m just a poet.’ And eventually I got curious and tried it out. The rest is history.”
Chase: “Very nice! Did you listen to rap growing up?”
Mala: “Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m a baby from the Bronx. I was born and raised in the Bronx so it was just a part of my life. Hip-hop is just a natural part of my culture but it was something I never thought, ‘Okay this is something I want to do.’ It was my form of entertainment to put on the radio and hear all these hip-hop artists. But yeah, it was never a plan, it just kind of fell in my lap and I ran with it.”
Chase: “I like focusing on lyrics. In your song “Make Your Karma.” you say that you are a musician and I know a lot of people outside of hip-hop culture would say, ‘You’re not a musician! You just rhyme and talk. That’s not music!
I find that I have to apologize all the time and defend what hip-hop is about. Do you find yourself having to do that and say, ‘Yeah, this is music. This does take effort, and I do have talent.”
Mala: “Well, I’ve never really had a situation like that. I have a little story where maybe I thought about it myself. Recently, I performed in the Battle of the Boroughs, which is a big competition over here. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with New York but Central Park is a very famous park and every summer they have concerts. They bring really big artists out and it’s really, really great all summer long. The people who throw those concerts also threw this competition.
All five boroughs in New York City compete against each other and the winner would open up for one of the big acts in a concert they have in the summer time. It’s a great opportunity and I was really nervous to be a part of it because I was the only rapper, at least from the Bronx that they chose to battle. Everyone else was a band. There was a sixteen-piece latin orchestra, a neo-soul band, and everyone played instruments. I was like, ‘I don’t even stand a chance.’
It really dawned on me how people might view rappers, you know they are just people who kind of talk, you don’t even sing, you kind of just talk to the beat. So I was really, really nervous, and no, I didn’t win.”
Chase: “Awww!”
Mala: “I didn’t win but I got a really great audience response and I was surprised by that because most of the people there weren’t even there for me. They were family members, or their friends, or fans of these artists. They have me a really great response. A lot of people showed me love when I got off the stage. The judges had all positive feedback for me, and I wasn’t expecting that kind of response. I kind of went in there with the mindset, ‘Oh, I’m not gonna stand a chance, people aren’t really gonna feel me like that, this isn’t my type of crowd.’
So it just goes to show you that music is music. It doesn’t matter if it’s an instrument or not, if you’re in love with what you’re doing and you bring that on stage with you, you’re going to meet other people who love what you do too. So I just went up there and I did me, ya know, I do what I always do and they really liked it.
When people say those things like, ‘You’re not really a musician,’ it’s more than just writing rhymes. You come up with melodies and concepts. You use your imagination. And my voice is my instrument. I may not be a singer but my voice is definitely an instrument. I use it just like anyone else would use an instrument.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into making songs. It’s not easy. The simplest songs can take you like forever to write, ya know?”
Chase: “I definitely agree with that. So what’s your new project you are working on right now?”
Mala: “A mixtape called ‘Anticipated.’ It’s actually a collaboration between myself and another artist by the name of Qwest. This will be the first time that I actually do an entire project with another artist. It was a lot of fun and he actually produced a lot of tracks on the mixtape. He’s another MC from New York. I think he’s very talented. We got together and did this project. We banged it out in maybe about a month, a month and a half, six weeks. There’s some really great songs on there. I’m excited about it.
I’ll be putting the mixtape up on my new wesbite, It will be for sale along with my posters, which is something new that I’ll be doing. I hope everyone gets a chance to check it out.”
Chase: “Yeah, I hope so too. We should drop one of those new songs. Would you like to throw to one for us?”
Mala: “Sure, this is ‘I’m the Bomb’ produced by Qwest and it’s featuring myself and Qwest. I hope you like it.” 

Come back tomorrow to read the conclusion of the interview! 

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