Hubwav Presents: ‘The Rise’ with Saint Malo
“I ain’t gone be a rapper, I’m just gone write for them.”
Hailing from Compton, California, Saint Malo is a rapper, songwriter, producer and most importantly the CEO of his own label, The Music Life. Malo released his debut album entitled Wild Wild West on February 9th. The album details his own previous lifestyle in the streets of LA and those growing up around him.
The project includes features from Kevin McCall, Tdot illdude, Cocc Pistol and Lester Shawand along with the lead single “Pressure” which has caught traction amongst popular media outlets such as The Source.
Melissa Ochoa sat with the west coast rapper and talked about everything from his start in music, his writing process and his influences in the game.
Where the inspiration from his name came from:
The name “Saint Malo” originally came about in his teenage years because of a girl he used to date who would call him “Niño Malo” (meaning bad boy in Spanish). At the time, she felt like he was always up to no good and so he eventually ran with the name.
How he got into the industry:
Malo’s younger brother and flagship artist, Hitta J3 really got him started in the music industry. J3 has appeared on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly album cover and even recruited him, YG, and Problem for the remix of his regional hit and popular dance called “Do Yo Gudda” back in 2014. Hitta had just began recording songs and so in order to financially invest in his brother’s endeavors he decided to start a label.
“My lil brother always wanted to do music. I remember I was probably like 17 or something and he was probably like 12 or 13, and I paid for him to do his first mixtape. Over the years we fell off behind the music ‘cause I went to jail for a minute, and when I came home, he was still on it so I reinvested into it and it’s just been consistent from there.”
Why he was so selective in having rappers as role models:
Malo was always very selective of the rappers he listened to because he often felt that they depicted lifestyles they didn’t necessarily live, it was because of this that he decided to become a rapper himself. He would always memorize lyrics in his head, but would never lay down anything concrete in the studio. Malo would write these raps in his head as a brain exercise in order to stimulate his mind.
“I would forget the whole verse I just wrote, then only remember like a part of it, and then piece it back together like a puzzle…that shit was intriguing to me.”
How he deals with fame:
The success he has had with his debut project has been a bit of a shock for Saint Malo who comes from Compton where he has become used to taking caution around his surroundings at all times. He described a recent encounter with a fan who approached him about his recent project.
“I was sitting at Neiman Marcus having lunch with a buddy the other day and I see this dude keep eyeing me, like I said I’m from a certain lifestyle, so I’m thinking it’s one of my enemies. He gets up and asks me ‘you do music?’ and I’m like ‘yeah I do, but I don’t so wassup. What’s the motive?’”
“So we go back and forth for like two minutes and he eventually asks ‘so you didn’t just drop a music video?’ and at that point I knew where he was coming from. I guess I just didn’t know how to take it, so it’s definitely something I gotta get used to”
What his first role in music was:
The “Who Am I” MC really fell in love with the writing process originally. He felt that his lyrics were accurate to someone who was actually living how rappers say they were. Malo would eventually start ghostwriting for other artists.
“I had it in my mind like fuck it, I ain’t gone be no rapper, I’m just gonna write for them.”
This process led him to develop talent and connections within the music industry, but as time went on, he had outgrown writing for other people and wanted to make a change. Saint Malo would eventually take his own advice about making music that accurately portrayed the streets. He decided to start writing for himself and go full fledge with pushing his company and label as the CEO.
“I felt like they weren’t delivering my lyrics properly. It started to be what I felt other rappers was doing, like they’re just talking about a lifestyle that they really know nothing about. So I just said fuck it, I’m going to do it myself. The lyrics will match the lifestyle.”
Saint Malo had a business mentality and the drive to accurately paint the picture how he saw it. Malo recognizes that this has become a blessing because growing up he felt he never really had any talents as he was never good at sports or excelled academically. His first love was always the streets.
How he established a business mindset and where he envisions his future going:
The aspiring mogul’s upbringing has really influenced the way he conducts his business ventures and how he writes his music. In fact, he says Jay-Z and Eazy-E were two of the people that inspired him because of their ability to successfully fuse both worlds together, with Jay starting Roc Nation Records and Eazy bringing Ruthless Records to fruition in the late 80s. Saint Malo says it is this approach that he sees his own career taking off with in the next five years.
“I see myself at the top of the food chain and that’s for whoever doesn’t agree with it. As a label, a creator, and as an artist definitely at the top of the food chain. I see myself with 3 or 4 successful artists moving around simultaneously as I move around, you can stamp it.”
You can check out his debut album Wild Wild West below and be sure stay with Hubwav for more on Saint Malo.