25th Jun, 2014

Album Review: Mali Music – ‘Mali Is…’

mali music mali is

Artist: Mali Music

Album: Mali Is…

Street Date: 6/17/14

Record Label: RCA Records

Genre: R&B/Soul

iPod Pick: Heavy Love

Kortney Jamaal Pollard also known as Mali Music has been around for a while. In fact getting staged on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) with acclaimed Gospel sophomore project titled 2econd Coming. Did I hear you humming ‘All the glory belongs to you?’ Well Mali is back with less vertically inclined worship songs like the ground breaking ‘Yahweh’ and more story-tied songs on the ‘Mali Is…’ project. And I really think fans of Tye Tribett, Akon and Drake are in for a thrill on this one.

No Fun Alone starts off the record with a one-one beat jazz type of music with Mali crooning lyrics about fame, wealth and love. He asks a daring question on this song ‘But what’s the point of having a dream if you gotta celebrate all alone?’ Next up is the already known Ready Aim which leans musically in the styling of Rap/R&B artists such as Drake and BoB. It’s mellow with creative accentuating beats. I think the beauty of this song is that underlying background instrumentation that leans a bit into a pseudo orchestra soundtrack. Kudos to whoever came up with that.

Beautiful would get you waving something bright, in fact anything such as your phone light from side to side. Beautiful is a beautiful song and no pun is intended. I remember seeing J. Lo swaying from side to side when this song was performed at the American Idols. No doubt she was having a good time. Heavy Love starts off with a type of beat best appropriate for you walking down your home street doing a sway back dance; though it morphs into something so reggae Bob Marley might come to mind at the chorus. I personally love the call and response back-ground vocals throughout the song. It gives the song some grounding and Motown feel too.

Fight for You follows in the same line with Ready Aim. I would love to hear this one performed live. The interesting about Mali’s new songs is that they also showcase him as a rapper. I have never heard a song discuss the theme on Walking Shoes the same way before on which Mali sings about if we don’t take the next step, how can we know where we are going? One also embraces a reggae style in the line of Walking Shoes and Heavy Love.

Make it kicks off with a sweet sway rap beat. The chorus is a bit bouncy which adds a great deal to its sweetness. Overall it sounds like what could happen if the Beatles ever did a song with Jay Z.

Little Lady starts off with a picture of a Stevie Wonder-esque singing and  with Mali playing away at grand piano. It comes across more as an interlude than a whole song track. It’s creatively clumsy and here and there. It might not totally draw you in but would stir some admiration. Royalty is a song about identity that follows the general musical path of the whole album.

Johnny and Donna was one of the songs (apart from the singles of course) I heard about on the album. So I was really anticipating it. To my surprise, it started off Michael Bubblish. It’s music story telling. As the chorus climbs in we can tangibly grasp the passion in Mali’s voice. It’s creatively clumsy in sound too, dealing with very tough relationship and marriage issues. In the end I have to say I loved it.

I Believe borrows the one-one jazz beat of the opening track No Fun Alone but on a different key and tempo. For these lyrics it’s a gem on its own “People of God don’t even read their bibles. There’s no faith no trust in the Word but everybody seems to be quoting scriptures. It’s just another word they heard. Pastors leaving pulpits cause they’re tired. It’s all based on how we feel.”

Some years back, there was a ra-ra over the internet about Mali Music leaving the Christian music scene and moving into mainstream. For whatever that meant I didn’t bother getting into the controversy. Listening to Mali’s new record, I will say it’s musically strong. Lyrically, it employs lots of storytelling, abstract personification and bold societal truth telling about issues (think what Beyoncé did on Pretty Hurts).

Mali is. . . is so many things. It does come across indie, Neo and subversive. But I believe the light shines through still.

Download “Mali Is…” here!

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