It’s Malone’s Time “Now”
Malone is a newcomer to the world of R&B who’s actually been around for awhile. It’s easy to go unnoticed in a sea of entertainment, but Malone has always made his presence known. He reached for his dreams, making it to Hollywood on Season 5 of American Idol. He’s also written for #1 Billboard chart topping dance diva Cece Peniston.
But it wasn’t until he encountered Grammy-nominated, TV One R&B Divas Syleena Johnson, who discovered him, in 2009 at a local talent show that he began to gain more recognition. He sang the beautiful ballad “Little Things” with Syleena Johnson on her Chapter V: Underrated album in 2011 and her live mini-album Acoustic Soul Sessions in 2012 and has been her background vocalist ever since.
Malone has overcome a lot of adversity as an entertainer. Fallen record deals, a taste of the spotlight, ups and downs, in and out of a few groups before music was released. But that has never stopped his pursuit of music. Simply put, music is all Malone has and as he gears up for the release of his album “Now”, he chatted with Heed about his journey and his future in music!
Heed Magazine: Malone, how are you doing?
Malone: I’m good and yourself?
Heed Magazine: I’m pretty good, can’t complain about anything! Thank you for giving us this time and we hope you find the convo rewarding and enriching! So, let’s jump right into it. You were on Season 5 on American Idol? How was that experience?
Malone: American Idol was an experience of a lifetime. To be honest, I had no intention on trying out! I never even watched the program. I used to watch clips of Fantasia on youtube, but never actually sat down and watched the show or anything. My cousin told me that they were having auditions in Chicago and that I should try because it wouldn’t hurt. So, I was like you know what ‘let me give this a shot, what’s the worst that could happen?’ I went, I gave it a shot…made it to Hollywood and it was an incredible experience. Randy was the judge who voted me off during the group competition in Hollywood and that was the day before they picked the final 40. Randy kicked me off, but Simon and Paula fought to keep me on! So, that was dope to see that Simon and Paula fought to keep me on, but it was a crazy experience. I loved it, although I would never do it again because it was so stressful.
Heed Magazine: Being from Chicago, do you feel a certain type of pressure because of the pool of talent & influencers that have come from your city like President Obama, Oprah and Jennifer Hudson?
Malone: No. In my personal opinion, Chicago is a melting pot and it breeds greatness. You mentioned some amazing people, but you’d be surprised at how many untapped artists are out here. In any field as far as, politics, entertainment, singers, producers, songwriters, rappers; you’d be amazed at how much talent Chicago has and we haven’t had the chance to get proper exposure. I don’t sense any pressure to be great because I feel like I was bred to be great. They say if you can make it New York you can make it anywhere, I think if you make it in Chicago you can make it anywhere.
Heed Magazine: So, you have a single out now, called “Now”. Tell me a little about it and your upcoming album of the same name.
Malone: I’ve been blessed with an amazing team! They have been single handedly making my goals and wants all come into play. Things are really, really moving! The single “Now”, we released it July 2nd. I was actually in France at the time of its release doing the “Cognac France Music Festival” with Syleena Johnson, so it was an amazing experience to have something I worked hard on be released. “Now” is the single and for most listeners they would think that it’s about a man that’s in love with a woman. But actually, when I wrote this song I wrote it from several perspectives. I’ve been doing this music thing for a very long time and from all of my experiences, I feel like “Now” is the time. I’ve tried two groups, they all were short lived. I just feel like “Now” is the time that Malone comes hard! It’s really written about my relationship with music, and how it’s been and how I feel like it’s about to be. So, that’s what “Now” is originally based off of, and it can be used for anybody in any situation.
The album is going to be ‘edgy soul’! ‘Edgy soul’ is just edgy! It’s a sound, vocally. It’s going to be a dope project. Just be on the lookout man, we’re planning on releasing in the first quarter of 2014! I can say that I’ve been working with Mike City, who has worked with Brandy, and he’s worked with my all time favorite, Dave Hollister, so it’s exciting to be working with him!
Heed Magazine: So, you mentioned Syleena Johnson. How is that experience working with her and what have you learned?
Malone: Yes, Syleena Johnson! She’s amazing! I met Syleena Johnson while performing at an event and I performed Jill Scott’s “The Way” that particular night, and she was blown away. You know how most people say, ‘give me your number and I’ll keep in contact’ and they never do? Well, she was a rare breed. She took my number and a month later she called me and asked me if I was busy and if I could come to the studio. This was at like 3 o’clock in the morning, and she asked if I could come to the studio and record the verse for a song she had written for Anthony David. I said ‘huh, are you crazy!?’ So, I shot up to the studio! This was my first time ever working side-by-side with a major artist! We knocked the song out and I guess she listened to it on the way home and she called me the next day. She said, “Malone, what are you doing with your career?” I told her what my goals were and I told her I just needed a way, or someone to get me to a different platform so that I can showcase myself. She said “well, I can’t promise you anything because I’m still trying to get my things together, but I’ll do all I can to help you, because I think you’re talented” and she said verbatim, “you remind me of a male version of me.” And she did just that man and I’ve been working with her ever since. She’s a great friend, a mentor, I consider her a sister man.
Heed Magazine: So what were some of the major adversities that you’ve overcome as an artist?
Malone: To be honest with you there were two. I didn’t believe in myself the way I should have. I didn’t take myself as serious as I should have. I wasn’t a go getter. That wasn’t one of the adversities on my behalf. I wasn’t living up to my potential. Another one is my sound. After signing to an independent label, they didn’t know what to do with me. We recorded some great records, but it was like ‘what do we do now?’ So, I guess my voice was another adversity. People didn’t know how to package me or market me, or what to market me as. They didn’t know exactly how to brand me. But luckily I know how to brand me, so it’s a no brainer now. I know what I want now as an artist, which is something I didn’t know at first.
Heed Magazine: Do you have any aspirations to be with a major label or are you comfortable being independent?
Malone: At this particular point if the situation is feasible and they can do their job to expand my platform and broaden my reach, I’m all for it! I don’t want to be apart of a situation that’s not beneficial to me as artist, but I’m driven so if have to stay independent I will. You know Indie is the new Major. But for me it’s all about what’s going to be best for Malone as a brand.
Heed Magazine: What do you have coming up on the musical horizon?
Malone: Right now, we’re trying to get this album done. We’re going to a couple more records and then we’ll start shopping this album. We’re going to have a release date regardless of if we get a situation or not. The album will be coming out. I want to get into acting, I’m writing, and I’m just trying to keep it moving and grow the brand! We have some spot dates coming up. Be looking out for the second single, which is “GPS”. We don’t have a date for it yet, but we do know that will be our second single. Collaborations, if I could have Syleena Johnson and Dave Hollister on my album, it would be complete. It would be a full circle moment. So, we’re just working man!
Heed Magazine: Definitely, thanks Malone!
Malone: Thank you guys! Hey, can I add something else?
Heed Magazine: Of course!
Malone : I want to do a shot out in this interview to all of my winners! The people who have been supporting me since day one and who are starting to support me now! They will never understand how they fuel this train! I just want to give a major shout out to all of my winners and thank them so much for all of the support and for keeping me lifted up and encouraged!