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Today we Spotlight – Mallokay. We got the chance to chat with this young up-and-coming artist to talk about his musical aspirations and thoughts on the hip-hop landscape in Toronto. Check out what makes Mallokay tick and show him some love!

Can you tell us about your journey into hip-hop and how you got your start in the music industry?

I’ve always been a fan of hiphop for as long as I can remember, but I think what really hooked me in on a much deeper level was Eminem’s “Not Afraid” music video when it was released back in 2010. I think that’s what kind of made me pay attention to the genre much more consciously. How I actually started rapping though – I was freestyle rapping with my brother for fun (I was probably 11 at the time) and thought “I’m actually pretty good at this” (I doubt I actually was) and so I decided to take up the art. I had many more reasons to continue rapping and other motivators as time passed, but that’s pretty much how it actually started.

How has Toronto influenced your music and what sets your sound apart from other hip-hop artists in the area?

For a long time actually, I’d say Toronto never really influenced my music (besides Drake). I drew most of my influences from American artists. It wasn’t until more recent years that I made a conscious effort to explore other areas of rap that my brain wasn’t really attuned to, because I knew it was important to understand what style of music people were consuming the most and why. Once I broadened my tastes, I was finally able to enjoy and learn from Toronto-based music to a much higher degree.

In terms of what sets my sound apart from others in the area – I think I’d say my focus on lyricism and the topics I touch upon in my songs which usually come from a pretty genuine place

What’s your thoughts on the music scene these days?

I don’t think I have much of a stance on today’s music. I’m not really as opinionated as I was when I was younger. Music’s constantly evolving and so are people’s perceptions of it. Everything in music is subjective. If I had to make an observation though, I’d say everything is much more melody driven than it used to be (at least in hip-hop) but I feel like lyrical rap will slowly make a nice comeback. Ultimately I think every style of music will balance out pretty well, and there’ll be a good amount of something for everyone – not really any overly dominating genre

In your opinion, what's the biggest challenge facing hip-hop artists today and how do you plan to tackle that challenge in your own career?

I think everyone can agree the biggest challenge is actually getting your music heard – but recently I’ve decided to just focus on the music itself and let the people find their way to me. There’s not much point in promoting my music so heavily if it’s not that great. When I think about it, it’d seem kind of bizarre for someone to be a 10/10 artist and have no people gravitating toward them with minimal effort. The way I look at it for myself is if there’s no one gravitating toward my music, then it’s probably not where it needs to be. But if people are naturally gravitating towards it, that’s my sign that I’m doing something right.

Your music often deals with themes of resilience, perseverance, and determination. What message do you hope to send to your fans through your music?

Fight for what you want – fight for the life you want. Don’t settle. You’re not entitled to anything. If it’s really something important to you, whatever it is, fight for it. But also enjoy – you can always enjoy the fight and still smile while doing so

Social media plays a big role in promoting and marketing music these days. How do you navigate the constantly changing landscape of social media and use it to connect with your fans?

I don’t consider myself to have much of a solidified fanbase yet so I don’t worry *much* about fanbase engagement (I do reply to all comments on my song releases and things like that though) but in general I just don’t overthink it when it comes to social media. My mentality is just to do what needs to be done so I can focus on the things I actually want to do (make better music). Keeping up with changes in social media isn’t too difficult for me either. I’ve always understood it’s adapt or die. If there’s really something I don’t understand in the new age of social media though, sometimes I might ask my younger cousins who are more in tune with it to understand the way their generation consumes content and apply that to my content creation.

Many hip-hop artists use their platform to address social and political issues. Is this something you feel strongly about, and if so, what issues do you feel are most important to address through your music?

It can definitely be a very powerful thing, especially when the artist has a lot of influence over people. My younger self especially would often imagine scenarios where I’d use my influence to stop problems or end stupid controversies I see happening all the time.

Right at this time, I haven’t really been paying attention to any world issues (at least, I’ve been making an effort not to). I’ve purely been focusing on the music itself and developing it to as high a level as I can take it – and I don’t want any distractions clouding my creativity while I do so. When the time’s right though, or if it’s ever something I really wanna get off my chest, then I’d naturally talk about whatever issues I want to talk about through my music.

You got some new music coming up. Tell us a bit about that and what the fans can expect?

I can’t give away the details but I have a lot of huge collabs on the way. I’ve also been really reshaping my sound in a way that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy.

What’s your process like putting together an album/track?

Before it’d be to listen to a beat, write to it, then record. But I just started experimenting with picking a beat, freestyling on the mic to it, and finding a sound/melody that I feel fits well and punching in lyrics to those melodies. I’ve been enjoying this method way more than the first one

In addition to your music career, you're also involved in various community and charity initiatives. Can you tell us more about that work and how it ties into your overall artistic vision?

I try to volunteer my time in various ways however I can in the music industry whether it be studio sessions, providing information, etc. so how I go about it always changes. I think the biggest takeaway from these experiences for me is perspective. Not really sure the best way to explain it, but simply put, seeing other artists from different backgrounds do their thing can definitely be very eye-opening in many ways – which in turn can help shape who I am as an artist.

Being a hip-hop guy, who’s your top 5?

I’ve never really had a list and don’t think I ever will to be honest (with the exception of Eminem being #1 to me). But if I had to make one, after Eminem, in no order, J. Cole, Kendrick, and Drake would definitely be up there. There are a lot more artists I’d put up there but no idea who’d win the top 5 spot.

Who are some of the names your vibing with in the local scene that you think we should be watching out for?

To be honest, a lot of the local talent I genuinely think are great are people I’ve met within my music industry circle – but I also feel like some of those people would take it the wrong way if I didn’t mention them here, so I just won’t say anyone specifically lol. But I will say there’s definitely a handful of *really* dope artists you can find all over

What's next for you as an artist, and what can fans expect to hear from you in the coming months and years?

I’m still working on reaching a point where I’d be able to say I’m happy with where I’m at as an artist – which means if you like my music now – you’ll go crazy over whatever I release in the future. And if you don’t like it now, then just wait a bit and you’ll at least be able to respect or appreciate it – I hope

Spotlight – Mallokay is a wrap! Big thanks for taking the time to chat and give us a little insight on things!

Check out the music right here

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