EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Malcolm and Martin
Last February, a relatively new group to the underground rap scene named Malcolm and Martin released their debut album Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. Filled with lyricism, solid production efforts, and content of a positive and educational nature, the album has steadily been attracting the attention of Hip Hop heads. ThatsEnuff sat down with emcees KB Imean and Styliztik Jones, as well as the executive producer of the album, DJ Revolution, to learn more about the group as well as their goals for the future. In the first part of this exclusive two part interview, they discuss how they met, how Marco Polo ended up being the only other producer on the album, and Black and Latino unity.
ThatsEnuff: Tell us about yourselves on an individual level.
Styliztik Jones: I’m from Los Angeles, and am the newest member of the Likwit Crew, so I’m on a bunch of Tha Alkaholiks’ albums, as well as anybody affiliated with them like Kurupt or Dogg Pound. I’m involved in a lot of West Coast Hip Hop.
KB Imean: I’m from Los Angeles by way of Queens, New York, and I’m just happy to be here.
DJ Revolution: Born and raised in the Northeast, but living in Los Angeles. I did a show called “The Wake Up Show” for about thirteen years, and prior to that I was spinning at clubs, doing mixtapes, and traveling around deejaying. I’ve been around the world many times and have put out a few albums. I’ve produced and scratched on a lot of tracks, and have a long history in Hip Hop and other types of music. This is what we’re working on now.
ThatsEnuff: How did you three meet?
Styliztik Jones: KB and I met in high school. We went to separate schools but had mutual friends. We did music and became best friends. I met Revolution at “The Wake Up Show” while I was up there with Tha Alkaholiks. I freestyled, and [DJ Revolution] took me to the side and was like, “Yo, I think you’re dope. I want to work with you.” I introduced KB to Revolution and we started doing a bunch of songs, and that’s how the Malcolm and Martin situation got started.
ThatsEnuff: If you could pick one song off of Life Doesn’t Frighten Me that you feel captures the essence of the project what would it be?
DJ Revolution: If I had to pick one, I would say “Against the Wall.” There are a few that come close, but a lot are about pinpointed topics. “Movement Music” to me was an anthem. Anybody could latch on and realize it’s positive and energetic. That’s what we chose for the single. “Against the Wall” is about the struggle and what people go through on a daily basis. How the pressure is really getting to them. That’s what a lot of this music is coming from. If you put the pressure on somebody, they either snap or give you their absolute best.
ThatsEnuff: The entire album is produced by DJ Revolution, except the lead single. How did Marco Polo end up on that?
DJ Revolution: His beats really have that feel. He sent us a bunch, and out of that batch we recorded a few joints for the album and for him. His beats fit the mold of what we’re doing. They have a lot of energy and are very drum-driven with powerful soul behind them, and that’s what the music is on Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.
ThatsEnuff: Was the release date during Black History Month intentional?
Styliztik Jones: Definitely.
DJ Revolution: We did a mixtape that came out during Black History Month a year prior, and we were trying to get the album out during that month as well, but since we missed that mark we revamped the plan. The middle of last year we got with [Soulspazm Records] and we said let’s really try to make it happen during Black History Month this year.
ThatsEnuff: One issue I hear in relation to Black History Month is Black and Latino unity. In what ways do you feel this issue can be addressed, through music or otherwise?
KB Imean: There are steps that can be taken as far as us reaching out with the song we did on our album called “Heritage,” which features Bambu and Apakalips who are not of African American descent. Los Angeles is a racial melting pot but not a lot of Mexicans and Blacks are even friends there, let alone can make a movement toward building something greater and moving in unison. Bambu and Apakalips are our friends. They have events, we show support, and once the fans who support them see us at all the events, that’s when the support becomes larger and people are like, “OK, these guys rock with each other.” It’s something that has been brewing in the jails for a long time, and then you have a beef that happened with Cypress Hill and Westside Connection which didn’t help things, but those are all our family now. If people see this occur within our music, it has no choice but to spill over into reality.
ThatsEnuff: Do you see differences between the East and West Coasts in regard to that situation?
KB Imean: It’s worse in the West. When I was growing up out here in New York we were meshing together – Puerto Ricans, Dominicans…We all feel like we’re from the same tribe anyway. They’re a little more aware of their heritage and where they came from. I don’t feel it was a major problem [in New York], but on the West Coast it is. California was Mexico. [Mexicans] feel like we took over and have no right to be there. There’s a lot going on because they feel they have rights to that land. Some things take a little more to change than just a conversation or saying that it should be a certain way. It’s more deeply rooted.
DJ Revolution: I grew up in the East as well, and having had the opportunity to live on both coasts I’ve grown to feel what KB is saying. It’s more segregated in the West as far as Black and Latino goes. Some of the worst gang violence occurs between Blacks and Latinos. One block is Black, the other is Latino, and it’s just a bad situation for everybody. The Black hoods don’t go into the Latino hoods, and vice versa. Out here in New York City I saw that, but not to the extremes that are happening out West. That’s why it’s hard to get a song like “Heritage” to come through. Like KB said, just having us all on the same track is seen as a sign of unity. It’s about music and trying to make something better out of something bad.
Stay tuned to ThatsEnuff for the second part of our interview with Malcolm and Martin, in which they speak about Hip Hop as a tool for change, a lack of powerful voices speaking to the youth, and what their plans are for the group’s future.