The Bronx native is going back to the roots of rap.
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Taken from the Autumn 19 issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now…
Sibling rivalry can be the catalyst for many achievements, and it was Maliibu Miitch’s older sister who first got her into rapping. “[She] used to make us rap battle, and sing against each other,” she reminisces fondly over the phone. The fight mentality prepared her to enter a male-dominated world, arming her with unabashed confidence and venomous spitting ability.
“It was guys in the studio trying to write for you, trying to teach you how to walk and talk, trying to teach you how to be a woman,” she explains. “Whether it be female rappers, female engineers, female producers, female managers, female A&Rs… people don’t understand that, for a very long time, there was no one there.”
Despite feeling like an island in this “rough riding” period of the career, Maliibu’s experience instilled her with the backbone she would need in order to progress, the rapper explaining how “it shaped a lot of my career, [having] to be on top of everything at such an early age”. Being a New Yorker helped too, of course. “You have to have tough skin, you have to keep going, keep trucking. Nobody will for you,” she says.
Maliibu’s music is unmistakably the sound of her hometown: gritty and tough, yes, but with a cosmopolitan sophistication imbued too. Her recent single “Celine” may be packed with trap drums and have a video premiered on WorldStarHipHop, but its magnetic chorus refrain — “I’m dipped in Louis, Celine / Spend a lil’ cash on me” — screams luxury and self-worth.
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(RIGHT) Coat MICHAEL KORS, bra and skirt both KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE
This notion of female rappers embodying their femininity is one championed by the queen of rap, Nicki Minaj, whom Maliibu cites as a huge inspiration, both musically and in the way she carries herself. “I don’t really think I’d be here right now if it weren’t for Nicki Minaj,” she gushes. “To me, Nicki Minaj was the first female rapper that was a pretty woman, that embodied a sexual, pretty, boss-ass, badass female.”
While female rappers were once compared to their male counterparts, Maliibu relishes the unfettered freedom of voice pioneered by Minaj, refuting any suggestion that her rap is “masculine” or “like” that of any male rapper. “No, I’m just rapping like a hard-ass,” she says, emphasising each word as if they form a mantra. “[Nicki] broke that barrier down, and made a new idea of what a female rapper could be.”
Megan Thee Stallion, Tierra Whack and Maliibu herself mark an electrifying new wave of rap, and they’re indeed the women who she thinks are upholding the genre’s integrity. “We’re the ones, we’re the forefront of music right now,” she says matter-of-factly. “These guys that are coming out with their projects and their music – it doesn’t sound like hip-hop, it sounds like an alternate genre… All the females that are coming out right now, you hear us rapping. We’re rappers. We’re all in our own lanes, but you hear exactly what we’re saying – we’re sounding like the early ‘00s, like the early ‘90s. I feel like we’re shaping music right now. It’s a great time for women in hip-hop.”
With new music on the horizon, and an ever-increasing number of live shows, life is getting quite exciting for Maliibu Miitch. However, despite all the fame and material success, her priorities remain the same as when she started: to give back to her family, her friends, and her community. “I know what it felt like, my mom not being able to just give me a dollar to go the store after school and get snacks, or to buy a new pair of sneakers,” she says — after a long pause — when I ask her about what motivates her. “No kid should ever be going through that.”
“In the hood, we’re not given a fair, fighting chance, and I want to help,” she continues, decisively. “It would be completely selfish of me if I didn’t rap every single day, and figure it out. Because I know I can change a lot of people’s lives”.
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