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INTERVIEW: Malcolm.E – A Hip Hop Artist, Sound Engineer and Producer, from Swaziland

Malcolm.E is a 22 year old Hip Hop artist, Sound Engineer and Producer, from Eswatini (Swaziland). He found his love for rap music during his early high school years and in his last year of high school decided he wanted to create music for a living. Since then he has been releasing music consistently and growing his fan base. In 2018 Malcolm.E graduated from the Cape Audio College in Cape Town, South Africa, with a 3 year Diploma in Sound Technology and Production. He now uses his skills in his everyday life of making music. He dropped his second project ‘R.T.T’ (Rapper Turned Terminator) in December 2019. His first project, ‘Things Change’ EP, is also out now on all commercial digital platforms.

  1. Tell us something about how you got started making music?

Malcolm.E: I started making music in my last year of high school after about 2 to 3 years of just writing lyrics in my notebook.

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?

Malcolm.E: My first strongest influence was Lil Wayne.  During my late primary school years in my home country Eswatini (Swaziland) and early high school years I was heavily influenced by Wayne’s music and it inspired me to start writing music myself.

  1. What ultimately inspired you to attend the Sound Technology and Production course at Cape Audio College in Cape Town, South Africa?

Malcolm.E: When I started recording music while I was in my last year of high school, it was very difficult for me to get good producers and sound engineers that would record me and produce beats for me at a decent price. I decided that I wanted to develop extra skills that would make my recording processes easier. While studying in Cape Town I gained knowledge in producing, recording, mixing, mastering and audio post production. All these skills I now use every day producing some of my music and recording myself.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Malcolm.E: I think I’m an authentic artist and that comes out in how I write and the way I sound. People want to hear something they can relate to and I think I am relatable as an artist.

  1. What do you think mainly separates you from the massive crowd of artists emerging right now on platforms all over the web?

Malcolm.E:  I think what mainly separates me from the massive crowd is my sound and the way I deliver my vocals. I believe my style of cadence, delivery and sound cannot be compared or traced back to any of the emerging artist in the game right now.

  1. Do you ever write a song with current trends and pure listener satisfaction in mind, or do you only compose what comes from within your natural emotions and mindset?

Malcolm.E:  When I write a song I compose what comes from within my natural emotions and mindset. For me I believe music based on trends doesn’t have longevity and music based on feelings and emotions lasts forever in the game.

  1. What is your process when writing, recording and producing your music? Do you collaborate with others or outsource any of these tasks?

Malcolm.E: I first get the beat done because the beat will give me an idea of where I can go with the song. After getting the beat I work on the melody and lyrics for the hook. For me it makes it easier to get the verses done when I already have the hook down. With my recording process, I usually record multiple verse takes of different flows and pick the best ones. I then re-record the final take of all the vocal elements of the song. I do collaborate with other artists who I feel have the same goal and mindset as I do and we always complement each other well on a song because we have a similar vision. I believe collaborations don’t have to be forced and should happen at the right time and with the right artist if you want to make a song people will remember.

  1. When putting together a song, do you usually start with the beat first, or do come up with a narrative first?

Malcolm.E:  As I mentioned earlier, I always start with the beat. Whether I buy a beat online or I contact my producer Trxy to send me a new beat, the process always starts with the beat. With my process of recording, when I get the beat I usually listen to it a couple of times to get the feel of it and then I start recording ideas from different verse takes to different melodies for the chorus. I then pick the best ones and record the final takes for the song.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Malcolm.E:  The most difficult thing I’ve endured in my career so far was staying true to myself and my music when no one was streaming or downloading my music. The way I overcame this was always surrounding myself with people who were supportive about my music career.

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

Malcolm.E:  Releasing this project R.T.T is definitely my proudest moment thus far. A lot of work was put into this project and I feel like this project marks the beginning of a new Malcolm.E.

  1. Is there anything you would change about how the music business works in your part of the world right now, or are you completely happy with the current situation and the opportunities available to you?

Malcolm.E: There is nothing I can think of changing. I feel like the music industry is at a good place where more and more artists are being discovered each day on platforms such as Spotify and YouTube which have opened up a lot of opportunities for up and coming artists like me.

  1. How do you handle criticism and/or haters in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?

Malcolm.E: When someone is hating on my craft I look at it as a sign that I’m making the right moves and it just motivates me to work even harder.

  1. Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?

Malcolm.E: The fact that I own all masters to my music is very exciting and it is one of the main reasons why I chose to be an independent artist. However, being an independent artist isn’t all great. You have to work 10 times harder than artists who are signed to a record label and have a huge team of people that are in charge of his/her career with a large amount of money ready to be invested in the artist. At the moment I still have to find other ways of making money in order to support my music and make sure that I am growing consistently. It’s a lot of work being independent but I know it’s not impossible to be an independent superstar. The likes of local (South African) artists such as Shane Eagle and A-Reece who are now known on an international level have proven that it is possible.

  1. What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music, and do have a video clip you would like to recommend that fans watch?

Malcolm.E: I feel like visual media is very important especially in the era of hip hop that we are in now. The youth today are listening to music online and visuals have proven to get a better engagement with fans than just having only the mp3 version of the song out. I have not yet released any official music videos yet but I plan on doing so this year. Fans can subscribe to my YouTube channel so they get so see my new content first.

  1. In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media platforms as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with all the new technology at hand?

Malcolm.E: Yes I do. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook for instance have helped me in so many ways to stay in touch with my fans on a day to day basis and to also keep them updated with my music or any news about me as an artist.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of your artistry and entertainment?

Malcolm.E: As an artist I am purely interested in music as an expression of my artistry and entertainment at this point in my career but I do acknowledge the power music has in addressing important social issues.

  1. Do you only create and work in a studio environment, or do you also find time to perform live? And which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?

Malcolm.E: I mostly create in a studio environment at home and I record music daily to keep my skills sharpened and to always have new material for my fans. Lately I have been getting more involved with live performances. This year I plan to focus more on releasing visual content and doing more live shows to better my stage presence.

  1. Do you have a recent favorite track in your catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very dear to you?

Malcolm.E: One of my recent tracks on the R.T.T project called ’Like Me’ which features a good friend of mine Kid Gap who is a rapper from cape town . The message of this track is to express my feelings towards certain artists trying to copy my musical style and the ways I market myself.

  1. Could you tell us something about your latest project?

Malcolm.E:  R.T.T (Rapper Turned Terminator) is an EP of 9 songs and it marks the transformation of Malcolm.E. I believe I am growing into a better version of myself and so is my music. I feel that over the last 2 years I have grown into a different and more advanced artist, so when I was thinking of a name for my new project I wanted something that represented this.  If you look at the cover art of the project it also illustrations this. It’s a futuristic portrayal of me created by Christopher Masuabi AKA Plasmic Rapture; a highly talented South African concept artist and illustrator.

  1. What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in the New Year?

Malcolm.E: When I get messages from fans telling me how much they love my music and can’t stop listening to a certain song – that brings joy to my heart. My goal for 2020 is to give my fans higher quality music, more performances and to release some cool music videos.

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