Campus Eye Contributing Writer
He was touched by a certain pensive indication of his talent. Surpassing the already high standard of Minnesota rap, MaLLy is released his first full length album in two years earlier this month. His studio album, “The Colors of Black”, displays another grand production job from producer Last Word who was involved with the Strange Rhythm EP. The album as a whole comes across in a curious light for much of the album takes a more mature approach to an artist defined by his charismatic rapping style.
Tracks like “Hold my Tongue” and “City of Fear” often epitomize this stylistic shift in songwriting and production style. The former featuring Atmosphere frontman Slug and longtime collaborator Rapper Hooks. It was a song that originally started out as a posse track, but evolved into something that would become quintessential MaLLy. On Slug’s involvement, the emcee said:
“It was good having Slug on something that I knew he would sound that good on… It would also get him in the lane of something he wouldn’t normally do on his album, normally which is storytelling and the more melodic stuff, and just wanted to have him spit a verse, be nice, be abstract and do what you got to do. It was good to have him in that light.”
The latter featuring a callback in mood to the co-emceed “Unplugged” featuring Brother Ali back from “The Last Great…”. It’s reminiscent in such deep fashion due to a graded ominous tone. The album feels borderline conceptual, as MaLLy begins with a look at where he has been in the last two years, but “the wool over [his] eyes becomes thinner” as the album progresses, and becomes virtually transparent when this dynamite song comes around. It becomes a boiling point on the album, as MaLLy’s inner visions of society’s paranoia becomes abundantly clear:
WATCH: MaLLy’s ‘City of Fear’
“Even when people are scared they revolt out of that fear. It includes the people who oppress others do so out of fear themselves. It’s kind of tug of war, this constant struggle… I made it kind of broad to encompass all negative things affecting our society. That song’s important to me because I don’t usually get a chance to speak out against certain things… but, the older I get the wool gets thinner on my eyes. I think we’re all blinded in some sense and we’re all controlled by something at some point.”
As broad as he makes a stellar track, “The Colors of Black” circles back into focus to reflect to define himself. To discover who MaLLy is ends up being the emcee’s ultimate goal. The album ultimately becomes a question and thought-provoking look at himself, and the struggles he faces from childhood to sudden acclaim. It’s in this core of self discovery of which the dark themes take on human effect.
“It’s a way of saying their are many different levels to this. One of the ways is being one of the few African American going to a private school, from growing up in the inner city, some friends not doing the best, family not doing the best… I wanted to take the album in that direction is to take these experiences I’ve had since childhood.”
Undoubtedly, the evolution from the largely celebratory album that is “The Last Great…” becomes something with just as much passion and interesting vocalization but with a different thought process. It is a philosophy MaLLy is eager to take on, as he recognizes the need to progress beyond artistically, but philosophically:
“The Last Great is still apart of me, but I just realized that you have yourself and your higher power. Not too much to hold you down. That’s kind of what this project is about: finding yourself by yourself… It would not have been honest, fair or great if I had made another celebratory album like “The Last Great”. It showed what I was going through at the time, but [The Colors of Black] shows what I am going through now.”
Brayden Mann is a contributing writer and can be found at Isle of Mann Journalism