No Malice [Interview]

“The road ahead should have ended me in divorce

But now I see clearly with the family of four

Never did I deserve a 2 seater Porsche

Heart filled with remorse, my life was much a mess

Now I’m back on board due to the lords GPS”

- Life Change, 2009

This is a snippet from Malice on the Clipse’s last album “Till The Casket Drops”. In today’s world of hip-hop where street cred and hot beats are almost worth more than lyrics, The Clipse came with heat from both sides of the kitchen. I can distinctly remember a couple of months where I could be found bumping ‘Popular Demand (Popeyes)’ as loud as I could in my high-school parking lot and listening to cuts like I’m Good while lacing up J’s before hooping. Even as far back as middle school, I recall trying to replicate the drum pattern from ‘Mr. Me Too’ on my drum set to no avail. Needless to say, Clipse have consistently been in rotation for many hip-hop fans for the past decade plus. Brought on by the ascent of Pharrell and Star Trek Entertainment, the Virginia based Clipse exploded onto the scene with their breakout hit and certified classic ‘Grind’n’. Featuring gritty, coke-lined raps crafted by brothers Pusha T and Malice, the group released three major albums, all critically and fiscally acclaimed between 2001-2009. I was privileged enough to interview No Malice a few weeks ago, and came into the conversation expecting to rehash his greatest moments on tour, my favorite songs, and the glories that come with being a world touring rapper; however, it soon became clear that the man has other things on his mind these days…  You’ll see in more detail the things occupying the rapper and writer’s mind at the moment, but to give a quick example: in the midst of a few questions about the inspiration behind No Malice’s new book, I began to ask him a new question and before I could finish my sentence, he cut in. “I feel like I’m too deep for y’all right now,” No Malice said, wearing an expression that was half frank, half sheepish.

No Malice was giving a TED talk at Georgetown University, along with several other speakers, about the larger subject of “Power.” TED talks are self-described as “ideas worth spreading”. They bring nationally renowned speakers and people to present their stories. After speaking, No Malice did a book signing and my good friend Jamie Sharp hooked the myself and, fellow writer/photographer, Julia Hannafin up with an exclusive interview.

No Malice: Yeah, yeah, the topic was “Power”, and I just was thinking about things that people draw power from. And I would have to believe that you are only as strong as your power source. And for me, my power source is Jesus Christ, and that is just a power that will never run out. It hasn’t run out in over two thousand years, so it still is not gonna run out.

Metrojolt: Is this newfound faith, or faith you’ve had your whole life?

Let me explain something. The Bible says clearly, God says, “I will never leave or forsake you.” And I accepted Christ into my heart in 1996, and even though I forgot about him, he did not forget about me, and actually spared me, healed me, healed my body, restored my household, restored my marriage, and made all things anew just like he promised.

So all those things were in jeopardy at one point?

*laughs and nods his head vigorously* Yes.

Why did you choose the name Malice originally?

I was [at] Blockbuster’s, and I [saw] the movie Malice, and I [saw] The Good Son, starring Macaulay Culkin, and I put them two together. Malice The Good Son. Then I [saw the movie] Full Eclipse, and that was the name of our group, Full Eclipse (The Clipse).

So I heard one of the guys upstairs ask you about the reason behind the name change from Malice to No Malice. Was there a specific incident that caused the name change? I know it’s in your book (No Malice’s short memoir, entitled Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked, released in February of last year), but could you give a preview for your fans? 

“Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked” Make sure you go pick that up.

Was the book motivated by faith? You just wanted to get some literature out there so people could see you’re serious about this message… Could you talk a little bit about the motive behind writing your book?

You know the book is more than just a book. I had no aspirations of writing a book; I didn’t want to become an author. That was something that was the furthest thing down on my list of things to do. I’ve had a significant series of events that happened to me, a very phenomenal story, and it wasn’t one thing, or two or three things, because then you can write them off as coincidence. But when you’ve had over twenty things happen consecutively, you know, you can’t write that off. I would have loved to have been able to keep this story to myself, and not share it, but the magnitude of this story is just so profound, I had to expose myself, take my cool off, and share it with the platform that I had been given. You know, a lot of people go their whole lives without knowing what their purpose in life is, and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what my purpose is. It’s clear as day.

And what is that purpose?

My purpose is to give the furtherance of the gospel, and to let everybody know that Jesus Christ is real…I feel like I’m too deep for y’all right now.

No, no, why do you think you’re too deep?

Well, I just feel like I’m too deep for y’all. Like, you know, I would love to just sit here and just give like really cool answers and make it a little more hip-hoppy, but I don’t know how to sugar coat this thing, man. This thing is real, bro. This thing is real.

And you gotta get it out. That’s real. Do you mind talking about it or is it too much?

Yeah, yeah, it’s too much. It’s too much to talk about right here.

Are you still working with Pusha at all?

Yeah, oh yeah. He’s on my next single.

Are The Clipse back together?

You know, Clipse never stopped. That’s my mama’s son, you know. That’s my brother, and, um, we always support each other, you know. He’s doing what he had to do; I’m doing what I had to do, we always got each other’s back. Nobody would ever be able to come between us.

Speaking of the Bible, would you consider yourself your brother’s keeper?

One hundred percent.

One hunned.

I watch over him, I pray over him, I got his back, I’m covering him, and yeah, I’m my brother’s keeper.

I heard you say something upstairs. Maybe I just caught the end of the comment, about the perception of women in music today. Do you have an opinion on that; how rap music portrays women? Or do you think it’s a construct that’s stuck there? it’s hard because it’s such a staple. 

Ah, so it’s a staple, huh? Mm. I guess, you know, the fact that you said it’s a staple, and I can’t deny that, as much as I would want to. Um, it’s definitely prevalent. Its very much there, in your face. And um, you know, you see these images on TV, and you just don’t know what it does to people who really may not know better. But there are a lot of people who don’t have strong role models. And especially in the black community, you know. You don’t start seeing the trouble until you have a daughter. And then when you have a daughter, you start trippin’, you know, like that’s not right.

Do you have a daughter?

I do have a daughter, and it’s like you can’t shelter them from what’s going on in the world and the things that their friends talk about and the things that are on the radio, but you can definitely talk to ‘em. And my kids really have a great understanding, and I really trust them. They are fortunate enough to see what’s real, and to know what real life is, and to not live your life according to all these different perceptions and images that are put out there. And the one thing I really have a problem with is: it’s different if you are first taught you know better, and then you choose to do it anyway.

Yeah, like indulging.

Yeah, that’s one thing. But so many people just don’t know better. They just don’t know better because they haven’t been taught. Or maybe they come from single parent homes, maybe the dad’s not around, maybe the mother’s too busy working, and the TV’s raising them and stuff like that.

Can you relate to Nas’ song “Daughters”? That has a pretty similar message to what you’re saying. 

Yeah, yeah I can appreciate what Nas is doing. I think that’s what’s missing in hip-hop. I’m not trying to eradicate all the bad out of hip-hop; I’m just tryna give, you know, an option. If you choose you want to listen to that, you listen to that, and if you want to listen to this, you can listen to that. Everything is just so driven to “this is what it is, this is what it is, this is what it is.” And that [isn’t] what it is; I’m here to tell you.

Got any shout outs for upcoming rappers out of Virginia or your area? 

Upcoming rappers in Virginia…

Or in general?

*laughs and shakes head*

Okay, I feel you. What do you feel about the direction that rap is moving in? Who do you see at the forefront of the game?

Who do I see at the forefront of the rap game… I mean, I guess you’d have to go by the numbers, you know. I’d say at the front would be the Kanyes, the Lil Waynes, the Drakes, you know, people like that. *laughs* I guess.

Does it seem like those are the people that you like? No shots of course, but is the direction you see rap going in something you’d want to change? 

I think that’s the direction it’s already in. Everybody has to live with themselves, you know, and we’re all gonna die. So it’s like, what’s your legacy gonna be? And I think about that.

Is that because you’ve had near-death experiences, you think?

Yeah! Exactly. And you know what, I’m glad you said that because, I know both the natural man and the spiritual man. I remember when I wasn’t spiritual, and I was just natural and flesh-driven, so I know what the mindset of everyone is.

When you say flesh-driven, you mean you live and die by the vices, bodily pleasures, etc.? 

Yeah, yeah, just the flesh, you know. So I know what that mind state is. I know what it is, but when you awaken and you have eyes that see and ears that hear, then you really see what’s going on, and it will pierce you.

Mhm, you can’t un-see it. 

You can’t. You come alive.

It’s like coming out of the cave.

Yeah! It’s like you know, you can walk around [but] you can still be dead. You know? Seriously, and that’s why I don’t look at it as a me against them; I look at it as one day, everybody [is] gonna open they’re eyes, and everyone’s gonna’ make their influence, and we’re gonna help some of these kids out here. Yeah.

Word, word, well thank you so much for your time, man. Alright, so if we could finish up with one last question about the clothing line? I see a lot of people wearing it and it’s fresh, no lie.

Thank you. The clothing line is Playcloths with no “e”; go to playcloths.com. We got everybody wearing our stuff from P. Diddy, to Jay Z, to Lil Wayne, to Soulja Boy, to Gucci Mane; everybody is rocking Playcloths. We aren’t trying to make people be No Malice or Pusha T; we got stuff for everybody, you be who you are, you find your own identity in it. But for real, check out mademylifechange.com, @NoMalice757 on twitter, hit me up on Tumblr, Instagram, all of that.

 

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