Photo by Mike Scotto
By Ralph Renna
CAPITAL DISTRICT — 2017 will be huge for local hip-hop artist and producer Big Malk. He has a few irons in the fire, the first of which should be out in February with a conceptual album titled “The Plaza.” It’s a compilation of 15 tracks covering Albany’s Empire State Plaza, that is to feature Elsphinx, Sev Statik, Sime Gezus, Darkstar and Juice Mega. Another iron involves a second compilation he expects to drop in April through a recently established partnership with Ok-Tho Records (ok-to.com).
A lot of hip-hop artists and producers in the industry didn’t get there over night. For Malk, it’s a career 25 years in the making. Laying down a beat, maybe add a bass line, throw in some samples, and say, spit or rhyme something really prolific so it flows. When superstars reminisce on what influenced them, they often mention the underground music scene in the Bronx in the late ’70s and early ’80s — Boogie Down Productions, Sugar Hill Gang, Run DMC, Beastie Boys. Back when he was a kid, little Malk didn’t know he would someday become Big Malk.
“I started off as a fan of hip-hop first,” said Malk, as he reflects on what sparked his interest. “Like 1992, when Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ came out. I was only 8, so my mom wasn’t really having me try to listen to it. But, my cousin, he used to play me stuff. Early Gangstarr, Onyx, Dr. Dre and N.W.A.”
Being a fan of hip-hop is one thing, but making the music yourself is the challenge.
Malk started his hip-hop life early. He grew up next to the original Drome Sound in Schenectady, so he was always into music. Malk and his friends would go in there and play with the drums and keyboards at a pretty young age.
“I had no idea about making beats back then,” said Malk. “[I was] just was a fan. … [Around] ’94, ’98, Media Play came to Mohawk Mall and I was buying tapes, then CDs, every Tuesday. That’s why my label is actually named Media Play now, as an ode to that store that I spent hours in during my formative years.”
Malk started earning his bones as a rapper as a young teenager. “I performed at my middle school talent show in 8th grade, and pretty much rapped all through high school.”
Now a dedicated, multi-talented staple in the Northeast, Malk is developing his own sound, as well as many others. His name is associated with Bumpy Knuckles, Roc C, Neek The Exotic and Dark Lo. Locally, he’s had his share helping Sime Gezus, SMGs (Juice Mega & Darkstar), Sev Statik and Elsphinx. Google all and you’ll be impressed with both their resumes and longevity.
“I have produced for a bunch of artists, both local and global,” said Malk. “In 2006, I formed my first label, Degenerate Gamblers Music, and we put out a bunch of mixed tapes as DGM Squad, which was me, my little brother, my man Big Nucc, and Uncle Torr. Just fun stuff for the people we knew around the hometown scene. In 2008 I got together with Jack of All Trades and put out my one and only true album as an emcee, titled “Local To Global.”
Malk started playing live and took inspirations and created from that.
“Jack of All Trades taught me how to use an EPS 16-plus keyboard and I studied him using that thing for five months straight,” he said. “He had learned how to use it from PJ Katz and The Vinylcologist, and those three dudes were pretty much my first real inspirations as producers.”
Big Malk “The Process” EP- can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/bigmalkmusic.