SB: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
MR: I’m the most unusual suspect. I’m petite, fair-skinned Latina emcee hailing from The Bronx. I’m anything but fragile. I’ve undergone extreme life circumstances that has made me the strong, dedicated artist and business woman that I am today.
I started performing spoken word at Lehman College under the name ‘Mala’ but that soon transformed into rap verses once I saw such a positive response from the crowd. My poetry always rhymed, I knew no other way to express myself and usually wrote poetry to low music in the background. Its no wonder all of my poems had a rhythm and people began asking if I was also was a rapper.
Now, knee deep in the game, I’ve built a buzz and brand that’s recognizable to hip-hop heads and industry folk alike.
SB: Have you ever felt that being a Boricua from the Bronx it would be cliché for you to get into hip hop?
MR: To be honest there was no real planning to how I entered Hip-Hop. It was a natural progression from my poetry. I didn’t have time to really think about it I guess. I just knew that I had finally found something I loved to do and wanted to do it for the rest of my life.
It was never really about being Puerto Rican, it was about being me. If someone doesn’t listen to my music because I’m Hispanic, that’s their loss. Latinos have been a part of Hip-Hop from the very beginning, at its birth in The Bronx which is where I’m from. To some I guess I’m a walking cliché but in actuality I’m an anomaly because I’m so untypical from what the standard “female rapper” is. Take a look at me and see if I even resemble any other female rappers in the game. Listen to my lyrics and see if I sound like anyone else. It just won’t happen.
SB: Being that the rap industry is already male dominated, did you expect people to react like “oh here comes another female rapper from the Bronx”?
MR: Not exactly. In fact, it was more like “oh here comes another singer” or “she must do Reggaeton”. I’ve faced so many stereotypes that I would welcome someone to say “here’s another rapper from the Bronx” lol. There’s so many strikes against me that I have no choice but to win. I’m the purest example of the underdog. I look different, sound different, think differently and most importantly, I have no problem exposing my differences. I don’t feel the need to front for Hip-Hop, I just want to be accepted for being who I am. Yes it’s a male dominated business, and yes it’s an African American culture, BUT I’m born and raised into that culture and I go harder than most men. So why shouldn’t I be confident in my abilities?
SB: As you mentioned, having female rappers categorized as either thug gangster rappers or very seductive sexual rappers, how do you categorize yourself as an artist?
MR: I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle. I’m neither a thug nor a vixen. I am the everyday woman with everyday woman issues and I express myself through my music. I think most PEOPLE (both men and women) can relate. Its not easy trying to make it in a city over saturated with artists and I’m doing it on my own the way I want.
I don’t allow the pressure to follow suit and overcome me. At the end of the day, I know that I’m making a difference in Hip-Hop for simply being myself. My fans love and appreciate my stance. I represent every hard working, hard loving, hard living person trying to improve their situation for their family. I do it for my son.
SB: You kind of touched on it earlier, at Lehman College, but what’s the full story, how did you get the name Mala Reignz?
MR: Mala is actually a nickname taken from my last name ‘Malave’. I began performing spoken word under the name Mala but when I converted to rap, I added the Reignz to give more definition to who I was. Reignz of course meaning to reign, to dominate and influence, to hold complete power and authority. That’s me all day. I dominate the mic, the booth and the stage.
SB: I know you’ve been rhyming for over a decade already. You proved you can definitely hang lyrically since “BX til I Die”, you showed your versatility in “Dum Da Dum” and storytelling skills in “Hey Love”, how do you want to continue to grow as an artist now?
MR: As of right now I am working on my first album. Before this I had been featured on several mixtapes, released my own mixtape and EP as well as singles. I plan to show the more emotional, personal side to Mala Reignz. I want my audience to really get to know what I’m about and what I’ve gone through to get to this point. Not just the musical climb but show my struggles in life and what it took to get me to this point. I think that part is missing from rap music and I want to bring it back. People should love an artist for what they stand for not for what they wear or what they drink or how much money they have. I hope to build a real connection with my fans with this album.
SB: Do you think you would eventually begin to produce other artists or manage other artists or would you want to just stay as an artist yourself?
MR: Unfortunately, Hip-Hop artists have a very short life span. It’s the nature of the beast to play hard and die young. I probably won’t be able to release music in my old age but would definitely love to continue working in music after my recording career is done. I release my music independently under Scholar Music LLC. and maybe one day your next favorite artist will be signed to my company. The world is my oyster!
SB: With the limitations and censorship put on an artist from terrestrial FM stations to have a “clean” version of songs, would you prefer to be an indie artist and be heard over satellite and/or internet radio uncut instead?
MR: I think as an artist you have to satisfy all mediums in order to achieve success. If an FM station needs a clean radio edit, then I’ll make one. You can’t expect to become a household name if your songs aren’t reaching certain households because of something as minute as a curse word.
SB: What advice would you give to any females that would like to get into the hip hop industry?
MR: Don’t listen to the stereotypes, Don’t listen to the naysayers. Be your own person and completely dedicate yourself to achieving your dream. Make your karma ;0)
SB: Where will I find Mala Reignz in 5 years?
MR: In five years I hope to have solidified my name in Hip-Hop history, reached financial independence and provide more opportunities for women in the game. After my hard work building my brand, I will use that brand to begin a merchandising empire and perhaps Scholar Music will be the hottest label with the illest artsits. Soon to Come.
May 29, 2012