Malci • Papaya
The Chicago hip hop scene has always had a variety of influences and executors. From aggressive trap to boom bap to an emerging art rap culture, people that have accrued Malci's level of innovation while maintaining comfort in their own space are rare. Prepare yourself for his first full-length release since 2017 (DO YOU KNOW YOURSELF?!?!), which earned accolades and was listed in the Chicago Reader's list of overlooked hip hop.
The album, Papaya! starts light, the soft-tinged keyboards laying foundation for Malci to lift his energy level about halfway through. Following a muted interlude titled "On God", Malci addresses racial tension in "The 40oz Endorsement." Dropping reference-filled rhetoric and maxing out on the chorus, he boils down to a simmer by the end and chugs through triplets that're so heavy they'd take a boat to the bottom of Lake Michigan. Like its tides, the energy rises and falls without breaking the flow. Malci borrowed the title for his final track from Open Mike Eagle, a former Chicago mainstay now living in LA (producer and co-host of Comedy Central's 'The New Negroes'). "Anxiety Raps" lives up to its title, Malci's rapid fire wordplay accentuating the bitcrushed beat while giving it room to breathe. The hook gives this track a feeling of an angry goodbye, though one hopes Malci will stay awhile.
Malci himself IS the project, performing all instrumentation while injecting self-recorded samples of sounds made by household items to add a sense of familiarity for the listener. A theme is applied globally on Papaya!, and it soars on the wings of the keys Malci utilized for melody. The album creates a palpable world of its own while calling back to the g-funk synths of days gone by. For all of its soft vibes and smoothness, Papaya! is not a love letter, nor a rap manifesto. It's a snapshot of Malci in the moment. As head of his own label imprint (Why? Records) Malci will also be the one releasing and distributing the album.
Take a listen to Papaya! above or on your streaming service of choice and keep your eyes open; he's showing out this summer with someone from our Best Albums of 2019 list, as well as a person from our list of Artists to Watch. Can you guess who?