Let’s get started with 4am, which you released only a month ago and was your first single, right? How did that come together?
My producer already had the flow for the song and I just came and wrote and recorded the lyrics and that was it!
What about the video? The inspiration for it is pretty clearly New York City, but are there any intersections or particular angles that you wanted to focus on?
I just wanted to show us having mad fun! I had my childhood friends and family in that video so I just wanted to incorporate good friends and good vibes.
To get an idea of your perspective for the city, could you describe NYC in three words or phrases?
Ummm I would say litty, challenging, and definitely a bunch of opportunities – I don’t know like literally you can do anything here and that’s why I really love it.
While 4am is your first official single, you’ve been in the game for a bit, right? Could you talk a bit about Hood Foreign?
Hood Foreign is the label I started at 21! It was really cool like all the artists were my friends and family. My cousin was a singer and my best friend was a rapper so it was a really great experience and it was a lot of work which was great – it showed me that this was a lot of work. We got to travel together and go to different shows.
Four years later, how would you say your identity as an artist has changed? Your music?
It definitely changed completely. I used to rap in my regular talking voice, now I go into the studio with my mad voice which is a lil deeper. It sounds like I’m going off in the booth (laughs). I’m basically cursing at the microphone (laughs). I used to think with my regular voice, which is a little high pitched, that guys couldn’t listen to my stuff but my voice now is for guys and females to fuck with.
You’ve also mentioned in another interview that the hip hop and rap landscape has changed since then as well–for female artists particularly. How do you describe that dynamic now? Though it is dominated by men, there are some powerful female rappers, too.
I love it now. When I first started rapping it was only Nicki Minaj – so no one would want to listen to anyone else but now there’s a lot of other artists and people are enjoying us.
I’d put you alongside Cardi B in that you guys are playing the game in a way that’s different or not as mainstream as Nicki or Iggy. What do you think makes that difference?
We like being ourselves. We aren’t conforming to anything, we don’t go pop. We come from the hood, and I feel like that’s all hood people – we aren’t trying to impress anybody, we always gonna be ourselves. And that’s what I get from Cardi – she embraces who she is and where she comes from. And that’s exactly how I am, I embrace where I’m from and what I’ve been through. And that’s not to say that I may not change at all like I may in the future have songs that have like a pop hook but the verses gonna be hood as hell (laughs) because that’s where I came from.
Speaking of female artists in the rap and hip hop industries, your Top 5 Mixtape was pretty much a homage to the pioneers, such as Lil’ Kim, Lauryn Hill and Eve. Can you talk a bit about what that project meant for you and its reception, considering it blew up?
It meant a lot to me because I had full creative control. That was the first thing I did since I left Island/Def Jam. I had the feeling that it was gonna do well but I didn’t know it would be as popular as it became so I was really happy with it. I’d definitely say it did better than I expected. And there were people told me not to do it too .. but I did it anyway.
You’ve also developed a pretty big following and sort of persona online through Instagram. How do you describe the distinction between Maliibu Miitch on social media and Maliibu in real life?
I’m mad sincere, so on Instagram that’s me being myself. In person though, I have to read people first before I’ll be myself. I’m a pisces so I can’t go into a room of new people just talking and being goofy me. So once I read the vibe and the energy of people depends on if I’ll be the real me. So like if it’s good then I’ll open up but if it’s bad, then I’ll be a little stand offish. But when people go on my Insta page, they go to see the real me and support me because I’m just being myself. I’m really always like that.
I did a bit of stalking of course and I noticed you use the hashtag #Bombshel on pretty much all of your posts, what’s the meaning behind it?
So it has two meanings. The first, it just means an attractive female. The second is that I turn up and explode (laughs). So it’s to say, you know, even though I’m still pretty...I’m litty as well like a bomb (laughs).
I know 4am is still pretty recent, but are you working on anything currently? What can we expect from Mali coming soon?
I’m working on my original project now and I’ll probably release it at the end of the summer. I have all the songs but I just want to time everything out correctly.
This article was originally published on Milk.xyz and the photo shoot was styled by Bianca Bailey.