Review: “Mali Is…”
Mali Music is a very talented Gospel Artist who you may have seen perform his hit single “Beautiful” on American Idol in March 2014. Mali Music is known as a singer, but ironically, the first time I heard him, he was rapping on Da T.R.U.TH.’s album The Whole Truth on a track titled “Go Misfit, Go!” Even though his verse was very limited, he had a strong impact on the song. He had just about the same impact on “Tell the Whole World”; a single off of Lecrae’s album Gravity.
I know that Mali Music had more to offer than being featured on somebody else’s song. I know he had released solo projects before, but I personally wanted to hear something from him that’s fresh.
Finally, in May 2014, his album “Mali Is…” released. As I stated in the beginning, it is one of the hottest albums, Gospel, as well as non-Gospel, to come out in 2014. It peaked very high on various charts: iTunes and Billboard to name a few, and it’s still performing strong almost a month after its release.
You can tell by the title of this album that Mali Music wanted to let people know exactly who Mali… is. From the beginning, his first song “No Fun Alone”, you get a very different sound from what you hear in most artist music today. Also in the song, you get the sense that Mali is sticking to his Christian roots. He says, “It gets cold at the top. Make sure somebody loves ya…” Now that someone could be a loved one, but I also think he means having a close relationship with God as well.
Mali continues the album with his first two singles off the album. “Ready Aim Fire” and “Beautiful” received nationwide attention. As previously stated, he performed Beautiful on American Idol. Say what you want about American Idol, a Christian based artist performing on that show is a big deal.
The songs “Heavy Love” and “Fight for You” is a great combination to listen to back to back. Heavy Love is pretty much a tale about how hard life gets, but just how “heavy” God’s unconditional “love” is for us. Mali is saying that it’s powerful, and it won’t move. Whereas Fight for you seems to be a representation of Jesus talking to a sinner. In the song he sings, “I won’t let them take you, I will be your protection, I’ll be your protector. You know that I’ll fight for you.” He also says,” You hold the light” which is so ironic because the little piano melody in the background reminds me of small, bouncing lights. It’s a song that is filled with musical imagery.
One could not listen to a Mali Music album, and not expect a song that sounds like it was made for the Caribbean’s. Mali does that with “Walking Shoes” and “One”.
“Make It to Heaven” is probably the best song to gauge just how good of a rapper Mali is. The flow pattern is superb and the lyrics.
My favorite song from Mali Is… has to be “Little Lady”. It starts off with a sample from the legendary Nina Simon from her song, “Little Girl Blue”. She sings, “Little Lady, sweet Miss Sadie.” which continues to be excellent use throughout the song. The production of this track was very well done. Mali uses a part of the nursery rhyme, “Row Your Boat” to perfectly capture the tone: “Gently down the stream. Merrily Merrily, Merrily, life is but a dream. That is a hauntingly beautiful way to capture just how hard it could be for a young battered woman in this world. But as the song progresses, Mali flips the table and blames man for the troubles of the woman. But he says, “God is raising up men who really get it. We got the same haircuts, same clothes, but trust me baby girl something’s different.”
He finishes the album very strong with the first of his last three songs, “Royalty”, challenging Christians to realize how crucial of a role we have in the eyes of God.
“Johnny and Donna”, is a song about the trials and tribulation of couples who have pre-marital sex, and unexpectedly has a child.
The finale of this album, “I Believe”, it’s a song that not only challenges the un-believer, but he also tackles the hypocritical nature of some who do believe. In the second verse, he boldly states who has his back when he says, “So I choose to look on the brighter side… In spite, of all the negativity I’m surrounded by No it ain’t perfect but that’s alright cause His hand is on me…”
Before this album released, some were skeptical about Mali going “mainstream”, and that he might get away from his roots; that is certainly not the case. “Mali Is” is an excellent album that not only sounds great, but it tackles all types of topics and is certainly filled with undertones of the word. Just because the lyrics don’t smack you upside the head with the word Jesus does not mean that his presence is absent… But that is another topic for another day.
Overall, I give this album a very high recommendation. If you want to be encouraged, yet still enjoy quality music that is loaded with Christian values, this is the album for you.