No Malice knows the easy route. He lived it for most of his life. Following the flock, keeping on his cool, while setting out on a quest for the hip-hop dream. Well, maybe the street dream came first. But after the allure had faded, the physical fulfillment dulled by excess, it was time to look in the mirror. Who did he see? A successful rapper? A celebrity? He couldn’t see anything. Forget the money, the fans and the women. No Malice needed inner peace and it was in front of his face his whole life. When the word of God finally touched his soul, the Clipse half was a changed man forever. His life did a complete 360. Changing his rap moniker was just a small step in his new journey with God. When he realized that nothing else was able to make him feel complete, Pusha’s brother accepted the mission to reach anyone who was willing to listen.
“There was times when I couldn’t have this conversation with an interviewer about God. ‘Are you kidding me? God? I’m a rapper. We ain't talking about God.’ That was me before. But it’s the spirit that takes you and helps you become bolder with God’s word,” says No Malice. “It’s just like physical growth from a baby to a toddler to an adolescent. This is spiritual growth."
The new Malice acts as a servant, not by choice, but by what he says is the grace of his lord and savior. “I have so many friends that call me and tell me testimonies. They feel like I’m the only person they can call and tell,” says No Malice. As a personal messenger for Jesus Christ, he knows there’s a higher calling for his gift of speech. His pyrex has been cleaned for good. You won’t ever find traces of powder again.
VIBE: "Malice is wack now. He doesn’t want to rap hard anymore. He’s corny." How do you react to that statement?
No Malice: I haven’t heard that statement, but everyone is pretty much entitled to his or her opinion. Everybody that feels that way for me, it tells me of their intellect. I don’t think that’s the kind of people that I would engage in an argument or discussion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
So, honestly you don’t think that you’ve lost any fans with the new direction of your music?
They really haven’t heard my music yet, for one. You heard a couple singles or whatever, but to say that I haven’t lost any fans I don’t think that would be realistic because it’s a different message. It is definitely a different movement; it’s a different word. So to do something different and expect the same amount of fans, I don’t think that would be logical. I’m sure, you know, some would be lost along the way. And that’s cool.
It doesn’t seem like something you’re concerned about or losing sleep over.
I can’t lose sleep over it. I can’t be concerned or allow that to stop me from what I’m doing.
Do you consider yourself a Christian or Gospel rapper now?
I’m not going to say what it is not. I haven’t labeled this music. I’ll let the fans call it what they want to call it. But for me it’s the truth music. For me it is definitely undeniable. I know Malice can’t hold a candle to No Malice lyrically. He doesn’t even come close. It’s different when you have a message that you’re willing to put in an art form, share with people and die for. It’s a huge difference.
Are you willing to die for this?
Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Make no mistake. Most certainly, most assuredly, Believest thou this, just for the message!
And we’re talking about the message of God, not the music right?
The message. Definitely, the message. For me it’s not about music. Rap is just the vehicle, you know? Rap is just the conduit to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t get the message. I don’t see nothing so great about rap or rappers or what’s going on out there. I mean, okay it’s enjoyable, it feels good, it's a lifestyle. But I think I’m one of the best to do it. Rap? I’m not impressed with it.
Really, there aren't any new rappers that you like?
Nothing! I wasn’t impressed with any! You know I been out of music for the past three, going on four years, and it’s right where it was when I left it. I ain’t seen nothing step up. I ain't seen the bar raised. I ain’t seen nothing good. I ain't seen a great message. I haven’t seen anything different than from when I left.
Do you feel like you’re going to make a big impact with your own solo project, Hear Ye Him?
I feel like my music is going to touch whoever it’s supposed to touch. I’m not going to come back in and be like, "I’m the best! Y’all ain’t doin nothing!" That’s not my intent, not my game plan. There’s definitely a listener for this music. And like I said, the people it's supposed to touch... it will touch.
Well, you’ve really set yourself up for this album, with the book kind of being like a prelude. You hit all the outlets. You did all the interviews. You explained yourself and took your time to set yourself up. By now, everyone knows your music has a new message.
Yeah, I feel like my gift was given to me from God. I feel like any gift that is used for the wrong kingdom is called talent. And I have my gift no matter what it is I’m talking about. I just choose to talk about things that don’t lead you to a dead end. I tend to talk about things that lead to life. I tend to talk about things that lead to peace and not destruction. And if I’m wrong for that, then I’m going to be wrong.
Who was involved in the making of Hear Ye Him?
I have, of course, Chad Hugo. I have S1, Illmind and a group of guys from Virginia that goes by the name of Profound Sounds who actually did the title cut “Hear Ye Him.” They also did “Bury That” as well. There’s also a young lady here from Virginia named Bri and she’s on a song called “Different.” She’s a young 19-year-old with an incredible voice. John Bibbs, he’s from Richmond, also on “Bury That. “ Cam Calloway. He produced a song called “Blasphemy,” that’s featuring Famlay. I definitely kept the spotlight on Virginia.
I noticed on your new song “Bury That” you mention trying to steer your nephews from pursuing rap as a career. Why?
When it’s a family member and you’re looking at them and it’s someone that you love, and you know their aspirations and their reasons why. They probably want to be a rapper because the girls like rappers or they probably wanna be a rapper because you’ll have a lot of money. It’s a lot of self-centeredness that comes along with that. I know because that was me. I know why you want to do it but I been there, done that, and I can’t embrace that conversation with them. I’m not a dream killer, but I just talk to them about things like that.
On the same track, that also caught my attention, when you say "It’s no coincidence that God chose to use my brethren to show the magnitude of the ties I’m severing.” What do you mean?
My dad said that God always uses siblings to make his point. From Kane and Abel, to Isaac & Jacob. When I say that, I’m saying this is my brother who I love and who I’m close with, but I have to go a different route. We’ve been together all our lives and as far as this music, 10,12 years or better that we’ve been together but it should make- It’s not really about me or my brother, it’s about everyone that has sense enough to see. They have to say to themselves ‘There’s something that is making that man not go that way. There is something. And I don’t have nothing bad about him to say. He’s a grown man he has to make a living for himself and he’s doing what he knows to do and he’s very talented with it. I have nothing bad to say about that. I’m just going a different route. Since the world that loves that route that he’s going, it should make them question what is it that makes him not go down that way. That’s the question they should be asking themselves.
You have to admit it’s hard to live a Christian lifestyle while chasing the “hip-hop dream.”
Fortunately for me, I come from a family that has a reverence for God and I think a lot of us do. But the thing is when you have a personal encounter with God, when you have a real revelation of God and who he is and he’s no longer Santa Claus to you, you know, that’s what made all the difference in the world to me. Of course, I would have rather just kept my cool on. I would’ve rather to not have to share such personal information in my life. But, I had a revelation of God and I knew it was God. And then as I read more of his word and understood. I couldn’t deny it. This isn’t a choice for me. I didn’t choose or say I’m going to follow God. I didn’t choose God, he chose me. He definitely chose me and said, ‘You gonna work for me.’
That’s a powerful statement right there.
It’s the truth.
Going all the way back, who can you really credit as the person that introduced you to God?
My grandmother introduced me to God as a child. I remember in New York I would go over to her house every weekend and before bed every night you know I had to say my prayers. And that was just something that was instilled in me as a young kid. She would always go to church every Sunday. I’d go with her at times. There were times when people would ask me “Do you believe in God” and I would say ‘yea’ throughout my whole life. But as far as following him and understanding him, I did what I wanted to do. I ignored him. That should tell you too that I didn’t just run to God.
There have always been references to God in your music though.
It was right there in front of the listener’s faces. It’s like you go back to all of my work. I dare say every song but, I mean I’m talking Audio footage, to the We Got It For Cheap mixtapes to all the albums, there was always reference to my faith and what the fans are witnessing . It has always been there.
Have you asked God to forgive you for your raps, or for some of the things you say in your raps?
Yes, specifically. If you are reaching people on a major scale, he’s not going to allow you to keep driving all those people to turn away from Him. He’s not going to allow that to happen. So yea, when I asked for forgiveness for my sins I tell him sins known and unknown. things I know I did and things I didn’t know I did. You think that you’re rapping. You think you’re coming up with something creative. You think you coming up with something slick. You think you’re getting money. You think you’re helping out your family members and a couple of your close friends. You think you’re good. But now you have to ask yourself is there blood on the hands of this music. Is there?? This is isn’t coming from No Malice. I don’t make these rules but is there blood on that music? Has anyone died living the stuff you were talking about? Has anyone been sent to jail living the stuff that you’re talking about that you’re making sound good, feel good? Has anyone died? Even if its just one person.
Do you take that responsibility on to yourself?
I am not big enough to wear that… because if I could understand the magnitude of that, it would probably kill me. I got friends now that have been with us through the whole career that are doing lifetimes in jail. Lifetimes. Now what you have to ask yourself… was it worth it? I bet if you ask any one of them. Ask ‘em now is it worth it? Is it?. I tend to say it would be all of them that say ‘No.’
With that said, you still don’t denounce rap music.
I don’t. I hear music differently. I can’t even jam to some of the things because when I hear the words and I know that for me that I’m grown, I’m an adult, I can handle it, but my message really is to the youth. I don’t try to correct no adult. I just want the youth to know what they’re listening too. Be on guard, don’t just accept what is given to you. Think about it, rationalize it, question it. If it makes sense, don’t make sense, then go ahead. But the youth is being fed like this is what it is, this is what you do. That’s what im against. I don’t have no problem with no people, no rappers, no nothng. Music is very powerful.
Especially with young, impressionable kids who are all enamored by this hip-hop thing, man.
Listen it has a stronger influence on grey-haired men with braids, old men. So you know what it do to the kids.
Do you see yourself becoming a pastor one day?
I can see that, and I embrace that thought. I feel like that’s my gift and my gift is to articulate the gospel. I feel like a lot of people… there are those who may not have understood the gospel if it wasn’t given to them the way it was taught to me. I feel like I can reach a lot of people. My gift was never to be a rapper. This gift of speech, this gift of articulation had nothing to do with rap. It works so great for rap but this was not the ultimate goal for what Ive been given. But what I’m doing now is a ministry.