Take us back to the day(s) when you picked up two renowed publications, The Source and Straight Stuntin to read your name being mentioned as a rising star; What was your first reaction ? what were some of the calls you were getting like ?
I remember the day the issue of The Source I was featured in came out, I was frantically searching all over for the new issue because none of the stores near me had gotten them yet. It was crazy. I searched all over even in subway stations and when I finally got ahold of my issue, it was finally real to me. I was Unsigned Hype in The Source Magazine, the most coveted spot in the most historic magazine in Hip-Hop. It felt pretty damn amazing. I remember reading that magazine as a kid to check who was poppin’ and it kept me in tune. You literally couldn’t go anywhere without seeing an issue laying on the table. It was the same with Straight Stuntin’, of course we all know why people cop the magazine, but still, to be honored in such a way for my skills really meant a lot. I remember one time I was in Miami at Wet Willies just chillin’ and some dude who just came out of jail had asked me if I was the girl in Straight Stuntin’. What was even more amazing to me was how he remembered me from a magazine full of vixens and I was the only one with my clothes actually ON. Like, I would think I’d be THE LAST girl he would remember, especially being incarcerated, I’m sure he read that mag a few times over though lol.
Talk about the opportunity to perform at the Latin Mixx Awards, a very prestigious event
I had a really great experience performing at Latin Mixx. It was the first real awards ceremony I had been a part of as a music artist although the awards are for DJs, they do allow select artists to perform at some of the events. I was able to shoot a lengthy promotion/short film for Latin Mixx called ‘Hot En El Bloque’ with other notable acts like Sensato Del Patio, Joell Ortiz, Cristion D’or, DJ Cre8 and more. It was dope because we got to show a little acting skills and debut our music. Then the film aired at the awards ceremony in front of everyone. I feel like being a part of such a prestigious event like Latin Mixx really helped to establish my spot as a true artist and not just another cute chick with some rhymes.
You have graced Summer Stage as well, talk about the course of events that took place as that was the result of a competition correct?
Being a part of Battle of the Boroughs presented by Summer Stage was another great experience for me especially being able to perform with acts that weren’t Hip-Hop. In New York, there are plenty of open mics and showcases but not a lot of quality shows that are open to rappers. I submitted my music along with countless other artists from my borough and I was the only one chosen to represent The Bronx in this competition where it was borough against borough or act vs act which was streamed live. The winner was chosen based on votes from the audience and each performer,group got critiqued by a panel of judges. It really gave me a lot of exposure to an audience that probably would have never heard me before. I was the only rapper chosen to compete out of all of New York City. I didn’t win, but I left feeling like a winner because of the respect I gained by putting myself out there and out of my comfort zone. My fan base grew significantly, and the judges all had such positive things to say about my set. In fact, they said “see you in the big leagues soon” which was the win for me.
Your music has been featured on both Hot 97 and Power 105, to date, correct not an easy task for an unsigned artist; How has those achievements helped the push for your brand of music ?
Having your music played on radio is always going to boost your brand and make people aware of your music. Although the internet is a great way to discover new artists, If people never heard about you, how will they know to check for you? Still, the majority of people rely on radio stations to bring them new music. Having my records broken by the top DJs on the top Hip-Hop radio stations in the world definitely gives you exposure AND that stamp of approval that lets everyone know you’re someone to look out for. I will always be grateful to Ed Lover, DJ Lady Chellez, Jovonn the Don, and DJ Enuff for taking a risk and spinning my music on the air. It really meant a lot to me.
Your video ‘Make You Smile” featuring Emanny hit the MTV screen; how was it working with Emanny ? Take us back to those sessions, talk about the chemistry of working on what can be considered as your biggest record to date.
Its crazy because sometimes you reach out to an artist and have to deal with the b.s. like egos, status and so forth. It was just one day I guess he was itching to work and posted on twitter that he wanted to get in the studio and I hit him up like let’s do it. He was with it and that same night we met up in studio and wrote a dope record. That night was pretty effortless we just got up, played some beats and boom a hit was made. When you work with real artists its always a little easier because true artists want to work, they want the record to be ill. It’s not about the flossing or bragging etc. We chose the beat, he wrote a catchy hook and I came with the bars. We shot the video a few months later which was a big production in indie standards. I had a whole crew, two locations, a full glam squad, actors, models and all. When you believe in your single, you go hard for the video. I went so hard promoting the single and video it eventually was picked up by MTV. Pretty unbelievable for a female rapper with no major cosign or label backing. But then again, I don’t wait on those things I just do what I do and go hard for mines.
Your self-titled project, has been doing very well online talk about some of the feedback you have been getting from the release ?
“Mega Reignz” is the follow up project to the EP I had released two years before called Calm Before The Storm. I definitely wanted to really bring it on this tape since the EP was like a soft introduction of Mala Reignz to the world. I went harder, spit more bars, and experimented with styles and sounds. Everything I do is about elevating and I wanted to show that my style was also elevating. It was definitely different for some people and it was refreshing to others. Its easy to get pigeon holed when you’re a ‘new’ artist because people are introduced to you one way and expect you to stay that way forever. But I can’t and I won’t. I’m a creative person and as my life takes twists and turns, so will the music. I’m still working that project and will be releasing visuals soon to accompany the songs and really paint the pictures I had in my head when I wrote them. I can’t wait to see how people react to joints like ‘Black Benzies’ and ‘Taliban on the Air’ because I’m gonna come so different than I ever have before.
ScholarVMG is your latest venture, an indie label which you co-own. What was the motivation to jump into the executive lane and also how did the partnership with J 30 come about?
I began working with J30 in the studio for the Mega Reignz project. He produced the majority of the joints on it. Working with him was great because he’s a real producer, he doesn’t just send beats and I bring the rhymes. If he isn’t feeling it, he’ll let you know lol. We kind of work the same in that way. We’re both perfectionists and writers above everything else. With all the changes taking place in the music industry, there is a lot of confusion about how to stay afloat. You can’t rely on just record sales and the major labels are barely signing new artists let alone developing or even promoting their projects. Doing it all alone was always hard but it was becoming even harder. No one wanted to take chances anymore and everyone seemed to be out for self. After about a year of working together as artist and producer, we decided to join our companys, Scholar Music, which was my music company that I released my music through, and his production company Vision Music Group. It was the best move we ever made singularly and plurally because we have been able to achieve a lot in a very short amount of time. We’re hard workers and really believe in our product. We live music and now we’re in a position to help not only ourselves but other artists get their music out. We’re definitely the underdogs but that’s ok because we have more to prove and are willing to go harder than a lot of our peers. We doing it OUR way and it just feels right.
You guys are currently working via a deal with Chris Gotti, is a very well respected individual in the business. What’s on the horizon?
Oh man there is a lot of really BIG records on the way. Signing as a label with Chris Gotti gives us a lot of leeway to be creative. It also puts us in a position of power having someone so powerful backing us. We’re writing all different kind of genres to be placed and licensed. We have an arsenal of joints that we will begin releasing this year for our own projects and working with other artists to bring some very fresh collaborations to the masses. Chris is not just distributing our music worldwide, he’s mentoring us on how to run a label. I mean he was a big part of the success behind Murder Inc. and we are more than willing to learn any lessons he has to give.
Do you consider a leader for the current generation of female artists ? If so y and in what direction are you intentions of leadership and direction; with Hip Hop being a male dominated industry, how do you see yourself overcoming that barrier ?
To be honest I feel that I have already conquered the sex barrier in a lot of ways. Sure, I’m still making my way in the industry and the world in general, but my achievements are very real and were made independently from any man showing/helping/guiding me on what to do. I write all of my music. I made all of those decisions. I knew exactly what I was doing and how to get it done. I’m not afraid to walk on a stage and do my thing just like I’m not afraid to walk into a boardroom and talk my boss shit. I’m a college grad and a single mom. I’m also a successful independent artist and business owner. I think these things make me a role model for girls and women AND MEN. I’ve always been a feminist and believe there really is no division between women and men when it comes to achieving goals. You have a dream, make it happen, period.
For the lovely ladies out there, whats Bad Girl Chainz about ?
Bad Girl Chainz is my new fashion accessory necklace line which I like to call hybrid neck candy. They’re hybrids because they’re affordable costume pieces yet they are covered with authentic Swarovski Crystals. When I was making my rounds performing at spots all over the Tri-State and East Coast, I needed something to help people recognize me in a crowd. I’m super tiny even in heels so I needed something people would immediately identify as Mala Reignz. My logo was getting pretty popular since I had printed it on tee shirts and had girls all over NYC wearing them. But there were (and still are) so many rappers printing up tees with their logos and such that it kind of got played out. I wanted something different that no one else was doing. That’s when I decided to get a necklace made that would set me apart from the rest. I hit my girl Iran Ortiz of Endless Noise NYC to make me a chain using my logo. I wore it EVERYWHERE literally….to shows, interviews, events, the bodega…I mean everywhere. People began asking me where I got it and how could they get one. That’s when I realized I had a ‘hit’ on my hands lol. When I finally got the money, I began producing the chains and selling them in the streets and online. Bad Girl Chainz means a lot to me because it represents my struggle as an artist and woman. Mala is spanish for ‘bad girl’ and I was actually born with that name (last name, Malave). I can’t begin to list the barriers you face when you’re a single teen mom. I came from nothing, lost both parents to drug abuse and was still was trying to make something of myself when everyone around me had pretty much given up hope. But I didn’t. I continued my studies. I got my degree even though it was hard as fuck–with honors. I delved into a male dominated business, made it my career and owned it. I raised my baby into a bright, straight A student. I was the ‘Bad Girl’ that everyone thought was a failure because I had a baby so young and out of wedlock. I was the ‘Bad Girl’ that left home as a teen. I was the ‘Bad Girl’ who was in the studio late night rapping instead of getting a ‘real job.’ All these negative things that people and society said about me, is actually what molded me into who I am today. I turned that ‘Bad Girl’ stigma into something very positive. I defied what is traditional and expected of women. I am a strong woman who does my best for my family, believes in my abilities, and doesn’t take no for an answer. So if that’s bad, then yes, I’m a Bad Girl and fucking proud. I think every girl is a Bad Girl and it doesn’t matter where you come from, or how you look. That’s why my chains don’t have any facial features besides their evil eyes and pig tails. I want girls and women to feel proud of themselves and the bodies they’re in. Bad Girl Chainz are more than just pretty necklaces, they’re statements. Bright, shiny, bold ones at that. #BadGirlsRule
Congratulations on your venture with Groupon, can you hint at what we can expect with theholiday season forthcoming ?
Thank you very much! I couldn’t be happier to have Bad Girl Chainz selling on Groupon. This partnership is really opening doors for my business, brand and music. You can purchase a voucher on Groupon.com and shop in the ‘Bad Girls Boutique’ (my store) on my website www.badgirlreignz.com and get stuff at discounted prices. Bad Girl Chainz are the big draw on Groupon but you can actually use the voucher to buy tees, posters and even music. The promotion will last through the holiday season and I’ll be launching the new color pieces this winter. Happy Shopping!!!
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