SB: Yeah, seriously. There are so many things happening; I don’t even know where to begin. But what would you say is different about you now, compared to when you released Mali Is…?
MM: Hmm. When I released Mali Is…, there were so many people that I was trying to please, and I thought that that was necessary. But I had to accept the reality that I couldn’t please everybody.
I guess it gets to a point where you have a vision, or a goal, and there are several ways for it to be accomplished. But if you ever really want to get in trouble, go about it your own way in the presence of a task master. You get what I’m saying? So like, if your mom wants you to clean your bed, she wants you to clean your bed how she told you to clean your bed. For me, it was those different types of things. I was right out of Georgia and wasn’t in Los Angeles long. I was still under my mother and management. Holly Carter was still helping me as well. There was this like, this “training wheel” system around me, if you will. I couldn’t fall to the left or the right. And if I accelerated, it actually would just hurt the training wheels.
The difference between me now? Well, I’m on a motorcycle, not a bicycle at all. [laughs] It’s powered by something that I designed, and I understand it. I understand how music and the songs can be applied to the toughest situations, like a balm, and bring relief. Once I was able to get an understanding of that, I just wanted to grow as a man and I think that was the combination.
But since I’ve been living in front of everybody, I kind of feel like a joke from heaven. God has been saying, “Okay, now I’m going to finish it in front of everybody.”
SB: "A joke from heaven." That sounds like a great album title.
MM: I know.
SB: So you graduated from training wheels to a motorcycle.
MM: Yeah, sorry to be so metaphorical. I feel that the difference is independence. I wasn’t necessarily entrusted by everybody who was supporting me with my gift.
It’s the same feeling that a parent has with an 18-year-old, and they don’t trust them yet. They don’t have enough experience for them to feel like they’re confident yet. But they have enough time under their belt for the parent to have to let them go a little bit.
Everyone around me – from the church to my fans, to the new fans, to the label, to the new management, to the executives – was just trying to find out, “Okay, well, who is Mali?” And I had to release music with everybody that was supposed to help me trying to learn who I was. So, it was a tough situation.
I had to name it Mali Is… since I couldn’t release the music on my heart, until everybody knew who I am. Let me define myself, so I can get the liberty. So this album is my first liberty shot. And it still was under scrutiny, but now I’m learning to accept that, receive that and do it with grace.