Written by: Hana Raage
Photos: David Franco
Collages: Annie Mcgill
The nineties saw a wave of Gambians migrating to the UK, along, they bought with them a strong sense of musical identity and community. Growing up in the heart of it was Malick IV, the 27-year-old rapper from Hackney. Having covered themes of identity, self-worth and achievements, Malick dedicated his last project to the trials of parenthood. Set on top of a dreamy chill r&b instrumental, ‘Steez Daddy’ opens with a minute-long conversation, between Malick and his daughter. The tender opening, set the tone to the EP and addresses the intertwined subject of artistry and parenthood. Throughout, themes of identity and achievements are tackled but instead of becoming repetitive and lacklustre, you feel welcomed to a privately guided exploration.
As a London boy it’s all in the music. I take great pride in being a wordsmith from here and I know I can shine light on a whole other lane of rap. As a Gambian it hasn’t had much impact sonically but I’m sure it will. I’m heading back home in December for my first show in Gambia. I haven’t been back in ten years. I just need to be back. A lot us first-generation immigrants, are very unconventionally patriotic, even though we have not gone back home yet, just living vicariously through our parents.
It’s so funny being first generation, because you’re not quite accepted across the board over here, but a lot of the time, you’re not accepted over there either. There are a lot of people, from ‘home’ that will come over here and be quick to discard and hide their culture, whilst we’re grasping on every bit we can get our hands on. A country of 2 million people cannot afford to be divided. All of us over here are doing our bit to put the country on the world map. We are representatives of the culture too and I’m really trying to be what Akon is for Senegal.
I like the challenge. I really like the idea of forcing a reaction out of strangers. There are certain shows where there are people who don’t look like they want to be there or contribute to the vibe. I don’t understand that. There is a difference between being there, hoping to see something inspirational and just being there just to say you were there. My whole mindset is ‘you don’t know me but I’m going to have some kind of impact on you’.
Growing up in the Gambian community in Hackney our house was one of the three or four main party spots. Plus we were the only family that had a microphone. So the adults would have their time partying to Gambian music and us younger ones would dance to our hip-hop and r&b. Then it would be karaoke for the kids. Every child had to perform. So I didn’t even realise from as young as 5 I was honing some type of performance skills.
Outside of Hip-Hop, more vocalists, synth pop and soft rock here and there. I adore Stevie Nicks. I adore Sade. A lot of smooth rappers adore Sade, it translates so easily and there is definitely going to be more jazz influences coming through in time. With my stuff, I find that there is a lot more that influences me, that I’ve reflected in the music I’ve put out and with the music going forward, you’re going to see a lot of the influences I speak about.
Jazz is so smooth man. The fact that no words are needed and I can interpret it however I want. I’m getting more into live instrumentation. I appreciate the love , but its funny being an artist; knowing what you could do, and knowing you haven’t put it out there yet. It’s a conflicting feeling. I grew up on ‘Ndaga’, which is a big genre in Gambia and it always just used to play in my house, and I never appreciated how sophisticated it is and the fact that everything was played live, until now. It’s basically jazz.
Blood of A Martyr was more concept before the material and Steez Daddy, was me embracing being a first time dad, and getting back on my feet creatively after and letting the songs shape the concept of the project. I had pretty bad writer’s block after [becoming a dad].
I think, it makes everything more real. When you have a child, typically before that you have an idea of what you want your legacy to be. Sometimes it all seems so far away but through a child your legacy now has life, it’s palpable, it’s manifested. Whatever I need to do, to have that legacy, I need to do it now. I wouldn’t say it’s effected the music so much but more my approach to it all.
Urgency itself, is like a double-edge sword in way. Urgency in the sense that you’re excited and you’re active and making things happen, but it’s such a fine line. The other side being panic. I spend a lot of time in panic, because I have a lot less time. In a way it’s a blessing because only by being stressed do you learn about how to better manage your time. I only got my first full time job in April this year, because I’ve avoided the 5-day grind for so long. I’ve always just worked enough to pay the bills, spend time with the family and make music. I have less time now but I’m smarter with it.
Right now, we’re just working on getting as many singles together, I’ve got something in mind, but I just want to get back in the groove of things. I’ve got a tonne of ideas and concepts for projects, but sometimes, songs need to be there to tide the people over and there was a 3-year gap between Blood of a Martyr and Steez Daddy. It was a solid project, it got a cosign from MOBO, it did well for me, but that gap is too long. Steez Daddy dropped last year and not too much since so right now I am quietly stacking.
Keep up to date with Malick on Twitter:@MalickIV, IG@malichulo