Blog April 19, 2013
Malitia Malimob: West Coast Rap Via Somalia
Projects connected with New York's genre (and politics) pushing DJ group Dutty Artz never fail to interest, and their latest release is no exception to the rule. DA recently announced their partnership with Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces and his proteges, the up and coming group Malitia Malimob. Guled Diriye and Mohamed Jarato, the MCs behind Malitia Malimob’s grimy and minimalist sound, may have started life far from the U.S. West Coast, but they've certainly got more than enough street cred to work in the gansta rap idiom that they favor. The two were born in Somalia, but escaped to Kenya during that country's civil war, later ending up in Seattle’s Somali community. Their lives have been disrupted by conflict, saved by Somali fishermen, and led in exile. You don’t have to listen hard to hear it in their tracks.   [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/80833615" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]   In his piece about linking up with the group, Dutty Artz Chief Boima describes djing a warm-up set right before the Malimob was set to take the stage and having an enthusiastic fan ask him to spin some of the Malitia. The Somali kids in the audience couldn't wait, and it’s not surprising- Malitia Malimob post videos that reference Somalia’s volatile and violent recent history sound tracked with their own music. Their last E.P., produced by Maraire himself, was titled The Idi Amin Project. They rhyme about their own experiences and make beats that reflect the harsh realities of a life led without political representation, stretched across several disparate cultures, and among limited economic prospects. And that’s what makes these two Somali immigrants’ music resonate with local audiences- as different as Somalia and America are, there are many commonalities between the lives of Somali refugees and the socially and economically oppressed people in the U.S.     We won't go to deeply into the relationship between the Somali immigrant experience and American gansta rap culture (Bomia Tucker has already done so in his outstanding piece on the band). But from a more purely musical standpoint, it's fair to say that the The Idi Amin Project E.P. is a fantastic  release. It’s incredibly diverse, moving  from naked aggression and hyper-inflated machismo to sincere introspection in the span of just seven tracks. The collection opens with “Mayflower”, a track heavy with "Dream On" style keyboards, scuzzy drum machine beats, and feelings of extreme alienation. They then cut directly to the smooth, pulsing sounds of “Nayaa’, an instantly catchy and body-movin track that sounds more like Biggie's New York than Somalia, South Central, or Seattle. These kids can be scary as all get out (“Thomas Hagen”), chiller than thou (“Kismayoo”), and genuinely touching (“Michelle Obama”, which has a combination of title and lyrical content guaranteed to bring a smile to your face) in just over twenty minutes. That’s not even to mention their new single, “Untold Story”, a Chief Keef style murder banger that's straight up chilling.     Regardless of the vibe they channel, Malitia Malimob's music bursts at the seams with provocative and compelling political implications, prestigious and intelligent friends, and a dangerously intense style. That they’ve built a fan-base with high quality, self produced Youtube videos is noteworthy. That they’ve made such connected friends is encouraging. That you can dance to, extrapolate from, and endlessly unpack their recordings is icing on the cake. Check out Malitia Malimob on soundcloud, youtube, and their website.