I’ve always had an admiration for artists who use dark comedy to poke fun at seemingly hopeless situations. Throughout history, people have used witty satire to elucidate the most fucked up situations.
Which is why I was drawn last year to a prolific, LA rapper named Malkovich.
Fast forward to his latest album “Great Expectations” and I hear a fierce brand of no-nonsense lyricism that walks a tight rope between stark realism, fantasy, loyalty and alienation. In an unfortunate sea of one-dimensional, rap caricatures, Malkovich weaves in and out of many worlds and many past lives with a self-examining compass that leaves no area unexplored, but never loses sight of the trajectory.
Whether he’s bearing personal witness to economic, political and ecological warfare in a single verse on “Storm Chaser” or channeling the ghost of Sam Cooke on “LIES” (“Its been easy livin’ and I ain’t scared to die. I know that’s a lie“), Malkovich’s lyrics cut deep to your psyche with beats that make you wanna bop your head. That’s a coveted and lethal combination.
The tracks “Great Expectations,” and “What I Know” (f. Sum) are hard-nosed optimism in the face of adversity. Temptation and integrity are personified in “The Meaning of Eyes”. “Sundays” is a metaphysical depiction about a day in the life in NYC on top of a beat that would make most rappers scratch their heads.
This album is lyrical spitfire hissing between beats that move back and forth effortlessly from Arabic rhythms, to acid jazz to 70’s soul to 90’s old school. I’m not sure if I’m in the Middle East, a Yellow Submarine, rollin’ through LA in the droptop or sitting at the bar at Cheers, and I like that.
In addition to rapping, Malkovich has chronicled a collection of pre-Iranian Revolution photos in an exhibit called Before The Chador which was featured on the BBC, The Atlantic, Flavorpill and PBS Frontline. He also has a clothing line and has written, directed, shot and edited many of his own videos.
Malkovich is a citizen of the world and claims no adherence to any region or religion. A rapper by way of Iran, Italy, Jamaica, NYC, New Orleans, LA, the Pacific Islands and Africa, he’s presently somewhere in Southeast Asia being chased by dogs (I’m not kidding. Peep the bio and the twitter). At this point, he probably knows more languages than Rosetta Stone.
Cop the new album “Great Expectations” here for free while it lasts.
We anxiously await whatever Malkovich has next up his sleeve. We hope to hell it’s not tetanus.
Be safe, Malkovich. We need you.
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