MaLLy & Last Word “The Colors of Black” Track By Track Analysis by Artists
Sophomore albums are always seen as the statement albums that define an artist’s career. This is no exception with MaLLy’s newest effort, “The Colors of Black.” A very dark and at times dystopic album, “The Colors of Black” represents a time period of MaLLy’s life from the middle of 2012 up until the end of 2013. For “The Colors of Black,” MaLLy wanted to push himself as a writer and rapper on this particular album, as well as share a more personal side than just the typical “I rap good and all the girls love me and my smile” kind of songs. The title itself is layered as well because in many cases people don’t consider black to be a color, but in this case MaLLy lets people know there’s levels to who MaLLy is and the life he has lived. To do this, he also collaborated with Last Word, a producer who not only help set the tone for what “The Colors of Black” would become, but also has done the same with another classic, Ernest Rhodes “The Orbital Effect.” Here, MaLLy and Last word break down “The Colors of Black” track by track to give the listener more of a straight-forward, and bluntly put statement as a cohesive piece.
1. Child of America
MaLLy – I spit the best bars of my life on this one. You gotta hear me, I’m humming like crazy on this joint, haha! This instrumental really sets the tone for how the song Two Worlds starts. The title was derived after hearing how it built up and made me think all the little black boys and black men in America that have been through any sort of struggle growing up but made it through and never forgot who they were.
Last Word – Both Child of America & Two Worlds are essentially the same song. We just cut them in two so I could have my huge epic intro, and get a song of my own.
2. Two Worlds
M – Last Word actually approached me with the idea of this song. He suggested that I really dig deep and tell my story growing up from my perspective. I wrote the chorus for this song first and the first line is “Two Worlds at a time..” which was a literal depiction of me growing up in the city in a predominantly black, african, and latino neighborhood but then attended an all white private school and dealt with racism and prejudice, and how I always walked a fine line of being of remaining true to myself and my people. Having to assimilate without being lost in it was one of the toughest things I had to go through growing up and even today I still feel like I have to walk that fine line.
LW – When I sent MaLLy the original version of this beat he didn’t like the drum programming. It was too “in the pocket” is maybe the way he described it. So I just removed all the drums except for the snare, and had him record over that. Then I re-programmed the drums to fit the awkwardness of the story he was telling. This dude came to the studio with scraps of paper for this one, and we just recorded what he thought put the story together. The chorus was a little shaky at first, but I got the picture so we re-worked it a little, and it became my favorite on the album. This song is the most important one on the album in my opinion cause to me it shows the line that MaLLy has always had to deal with throughout his lifetime.
M – When I originally heard this beat I thought about the song “Clique” by Big Sean, Jay, and Kanye. I got geeked and instantly knew I had to have this song for the album. However, the only way I would be able to get this beat and write to it is if I wrote the entire song on the spot. Last Word was testing me haha! I think the album starts off perfect with this track because I’m just spitting some bars, throwing in some wordplay, delivery, and just not giving a fvck.
LW – Yeah, I wasn’t really sure about this beat originally when I made it, but MaLLy insisted on having it. The song was done in about 2.5 hours from the time he heard the beat to the time we finished recording it. I already had a pattern in my head for the chorus, and MaLLy just kinda took it to the next level. It is just more of a braggadocio song, but if you like rap then you’ll like this song.
4. City of Fear
M – Originally I was gonna write this song from the perspective of a dirty cop and a an abused civilian but the more I thought about it I passed on that idea, it didn’t feel right. The production was crazy to me. The main thing I wanted to accomplish was: Flow all over this thing like my life depended on it and paint a picture of hard times, a sense of urgency that couldn’t be denied and show that as a human race we’ve got a long way to go and that it’s still real out here. TV, marketing, drugs, lack of education, alcohol, and sex control us. Exploitation is real but what happens when you speak out against it?
LW – This is one of the oldest songs on the album. When I played MaLLy the first batch of beats a couple years ago this was the one he liked the most. I knew he would be back to record asap. He came through, and laid everything down, and that was that. We didn’t really re-write or change anything. Both Plain Ole Bill, and I did some editing of the song down the road, but MaLLy nailed this one.
5. Hold My Tongue [feat. Slug of Atmosphere & Rapper Hooks]
M – This was supposed to be a posse cut with several people on it and the beat was perfect for it. I wanted to be relentless and deliver punchline after punchline to go with the idea of not holding my tongue. I’ve always wanted to have Slug and Rapper Hooks on a track of mine. They both bring very different styles but when it comes to being sharp lyrically and talking shit and being witty they both match up very well in that area and I respect them both as people and artists. I wanted to deliver a very sarcastic and verse filled with braggadocio and slick wordplay.
LW – This is just one of those boom bap rap songs. Talk some shit, and have a little fun with it. I’d say who I thought had the best verse on the song, but MaLLy would probably edit that out.
6. Machine Gun
M – This particular record got added to album at the last minute. The album was just a little too serious and needed some lighter moments. I didn’t wanna put people to sleep haha and feel as if I forgot how to have fun and go in another direction than expected. Machine Gun was another song I wrote on the spot in the studio and didn’t want to hold back on this track. I would have to say my favorite line in this song “Y’all talk good game y’all all costas..” and “Still flexing, no question, little man kicking y’all ass, Joe Pesci”. Joe is definitely one of the best gangsters in film (Goodfellas, Casino) and didn’t give a damn. I felt the same way writing this song.
LW – This song kinda got lost after recording it. A friend of mine heard the demo of the song, and was like “you have to put that on the album”. I asked MaLLy what he thought, and he still really liked the song so we took off Grow This Way, and replaced it with this. MaLLy gets to clown the closed minded rap heads who only think rap was good in a certain period in the middle of this song. That was one take. We just left it, and released it like that.
7. Not Never…
M – I wanted to start of smooth on this particular and just rap good on this one. There was no particular direction on this one except to speak what was on my mind at the time and let people know I’m completely care free and anyone in my way is getting knocked off. 1st and 3rd verse are my personal favorite highlights in delivering the message and overall feel of what the song stands for.
LW – Whatever. The 3rd verse is the best verse on this one. MaLLy teased people through out the song to get to that point. It was like the grand finale. The beat is simple. It didn’t need any bells and whistles once MaLLy recorded it. I just made the drums make him sound cool.
8. All of My Life (Part 2) [feat. K.Raydio]
M – If I sold drugs and ran the streets (minus the snitching) this woulda been my life. This song was an ode to Alpo, Azie, and Rich from Harlem specifically. In addition, Rayful Edmond and Frank Matthews inspired this particular record. There were times growing up where having money and having people look up to you of the wrong reasons was cool to me and I always wanted to make a street song whether it was real or a story. For sure a personal favorite of mine on The Colors of Black. I wrote this song in 30 mins because the beat was so crazy and the main sample and synth made me think of Scarface and the 80’s. Once we added keys and the guitar it was a wrap.
LW – This is the 2nd part to a 3 part song. It was also the first part written, and recorded. Part 1 is on the Strange Rhythm Ep. I think it’s dope that this came first, and MaLLy wrote the first part around this. Kinda like a prequel to a movie. I always loved this beat, but dVRG, and Jeremy from Alpha Consumer bodied this track. They were the extra sprinkle the song needed.
9. Everything Else But Me
M – Being that this album is so personal and I wanted to open up and give a part of myself that I never have really given to anybody. I was in my grandma’s house laid back in the recliner and something about the keys in this joint just told me to let it all out and really speak on insecurities I have dealt with in the past and present. All in all, there was a time when I seriously loved Everything Else (that was materialistic) But Me.
LW – I made this beat in a hotel room in Kansas City. Drinking whiskey, and watching HGTV. I own a house. That’s my channel. It is the exact same arrangement as the way I gave it to MaLLy. He wrote around it. I absolutely love this song, and dVRG wrote that string section, replayed the sample, and played all the extra synths. He made the song even better then the original version which was already great.
10. One Million
M – The love is real on this one haha! A trip to Chicago inspired this particular and just thinking about the perfect girl and how she makes me feel and that she can have everything she wants. The idea of One Million basically means: This girl is like the first time you make a million dollars but it never gets old and her love never gets comfortable.
LW – This was gonna be a loosie that we released down the road. dVRG played some extra keys on the beat, and we knew it had to make the album then. It was the last song recorded for the album, and MaLLy knew he couldn’t fuck it up. Not gonna lie, I thought he may have a miss on this one. Like missing the big 3 pointer at the end of the game to win. I think he nailed it, and the ladies really like this one.
11. A Long Day
M – The rap version of Purple Rain. The instrumentation for this song was absolutely amazing. A Long Day is what my day to day life was like with working a day job, seeing how the landscape of music was, and just taking a look at the world and how I reacted to it. There were times where my job, music, and the ills of the world have made me cry or question my ability to make it and be successful.
LW – This beat was up on the screen one day when MaLLy came over to record. He was like “what are you doing?”. I was like “Making a beat. You’ll hate it.” I was wrong. We always thought it had a Purple Rain kinda feel, and when people heard it that’s the first thing that came to mind. I’m not saying we’re Prince. I’m just saying he’d really like this song.
M – By the end of this album, I’ve basically given my all and wanted this song to be the closer and feel like a sense of resolution by saying “I shoulda died but no, this moment is filled with gold”. Without struggle there is no struggle and no learning experiences. The title Crimson basically came from a line in my first verse “Dreams of cars and chains it ain’t the same insane covered in crimson stains..” aka blood, sweat, and tears is what I put into this life as a human and a musician and look at it differently then what I did a few years ago.
LW – HA! MaLLy is lying. The title came from the fact that the beat was named Crimson. It reminded me of the color red. That’s why I named it that. Call me corny, but I think albums should start epic, and end epic. That’s how I roll, and that’s how MaLLy rolls so that’s what we did. Shout out to K.Raydio for making the finale of the album dope as shit.