Train of Thought: No Malice Breaks Down “Darkest Hour,” His First Verse Since Changing His Name
In March, Malice announced that he was changing his name to No Malice. It was another step in the transformation that the Clipse member had been going through. As his brother and groupmate Pusha T built a solo career following the duo's last project, late 2009's Till The Casket Drops, No Malice has experienced a religious awakening, released a book, Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked, and taken a bit of a step back from music. In early May, though, Lecrae dropped his Church Clothes mixtape, which included the track "Darkest Hour" featuring No Malice. XXLMag.com caught up with the Virginia native to talk about the verse (included below). —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)
"Lord have mercy and pity on your son/From what I once was, to what I have become/Forgive me for my past and the noses left numb/As I'm led down this path to the beat of a different drum/Fee-fi-fo-fum I'm conquering my giants/And all by my lonesome I'm conquering Goliath/I cut it on the buyers, now I trade in the triple beams/I'm Tebow to the game and I done traded teams/The slate is clean and ever since I've been delivered/My flow got em guessing like rock, paper, scissors/Before the feds came we were already prisoners/32 years made us all reconsider/The holy ghost in us, so whoever got a gripe/Prove the devil's alive and well, Tyler got it right/How long can you live with your hands up in the white?/Jesus or the Judge? They both offer you life"
XXLMag.com: Did you custom fit this verse for what Lecrae was doing, or is it more indicative of the space you're in right now?
No Malice: I didn’t actually custom fit that rhyme for Lecrae. It’s basically the space that I’m at—what I’m doing these days. I can pretty much find my way around any topic, but ’Crae was just like, “Do your thing,” and he didn’t give me any guidelines.
You talk about conquering your giants. What are those giants?
When I said in that verse, “Conquering my giants,” what I meant by that is it’s a lot of, I guess, stigmas or things that you may have been accustomed to that, as far as I’m concerned—[I'm] just doing things a lot differently and contrary to what my fans have known me for, or contrary to what my fans have seen me do and the things I represent. To have the change of heart that I have, and to have to go back and redo it, and do it publicly, and do it in such a way that, for the most part, is not popular, and is definitely going against what I guess the norm would be. But I feel so strongly about it—I’m so convicted by my beliefs and my thoughts—to come back into this arena and share my thoughts now is just something I gotta do. No matter who may not like it or who may not understand.
Has there been much push back from fans or other people?
I really haven’t. It says a lot for going with your heart, being true to yourself. You might have thought initially, before I had made this change, that everybody would come against you. But it really hasn’t been that way. I’m happy with my new movement. My fans definitely got my back. I even got more fans, and I get a lot of support.
Later, you say "32 years made us all reconsider." What is that in reference to?
When I say, “32 years made us all reconsider,” that is my manager, Anthony Gonzales, he got sentenced to 32 years. All of our friends that were down with us from the very beginning [did, too]. I’m talking about people that we consider family. They are family—Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays, kids’ birthdays, picnics, families together. That’s what we did. Traveled overseas together. They been with us through this whole journey with our rap careers. To see them all get indicted, and to see them all go to jail to the tune of 32 years—we had a lot of fun, but we didn’t do anything that warranted 32 years. Or, we didn’t do anything that was that much fun that warranted 32 years. It took ten years for everything that we celebrated to come back and bite us. I can only imagine the amount of people that it affected other than ourselves. From the first time our album dropped [to] ten year [later in] 2009, and we’re getting affected, it’s got to be tons of other people that were affected. So when the judge slams that gavel and says 32 years, it definitely made us rethink things.
Was that sentencing a big turning point for you?
The thing about the sentencing was, I had started my blog, Made My Life Change, and when the sentencing came down, a lot of people thought I was doing that to distance myself from my manager. When in actuality that was already in play. I had already told my manager what was going down. And if I go see him right now, he’ll tell me, ‘Yo, you told me this was gonna happen.’ ’Cause I did. I told all of ’em. I told everybody. I could feel it. I could tell. I know when it’s getting sloppy. I know everything. I could see what was going on and I let cats know, I can feel it. And I was dead on right.
What's been the main shift for you? You've been making religious references for some time in your music.
The main shift? I think I’ve always been building toward that. With me, I’ve always been—my mind works like none other. And the things that I was saying in my raps—and our music is a true music, it’s a very genuine, it’s a very real music. I think the Clipse, we always make it look good. And it did look good, and it was good, but the whole time I knew better. When I look at myself in the mirror or I go to bed at night, I know if what I did was wrong. I don’t care how much money it made me or what advantage it brought me. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. People always talked about my duality in the group: I’ll say this, but I’ll make sense out of it in some kind of way. I think, right now, it basically got the best of me. Especially seeing everything that we’ve seen over the years. And now I want to be able to help someone else out. I’m not really talking to the grown people. If you an adult and you responsible, that’s your business. My son, he likes to rap; he got friends that rap; I got nephews that rap. Young kids, and they look up to Clipse and they look up to all the other cats that’s out there. I want to give them an option. I think that they don’t have an option. Everything is this one way, and that’s the way it’s gotta be. And if you wanna rap, it’s gotta be like this. I just wanna say it’s an alternative.
What did you mean when you said "Tyler got it right"? Is that Tyler, The Creator?
I’ve heard a lot about Tyler and I’ve heard about his music. Like the video he did with my brother, [there was a] “666.” I got Play Cloths clothing line, and we share the same distributor, so I seen some of their stuff. And I see upside down crosses and things about the devil. So when I say Tyler got it right, what I mean is everybody else is sleeping. Everybody else is acting like the devil don’t exist. A lot of people act like God don’t exist. So what I’m saying is that brother is very much awake. He got it right. He’s not sleeping. It seems like to me everybody else is just sleeping.
The verse closes with you saying that Jesus and the Judge can both offer you life.
They both offer you life, definitely. Pretty self explanatory. I am a lover, a believer and follower of Jesus. I make no bones about that. People know from my very first album, Exclusive Audio Footage, I even say a prayer on that album. We even had a song on that album called “Watch Over Me” where we’re basically praying, as well. I’ve always made a reference to my faith. It’s kind of hard, ’cause I guess I was straddling the fence. I was saying I believe in God but I was doing what I wanted to do. And by no means am I professing or claiming to be perfect, or I got it all figured out, I’m just trying to do things a little bit differently and a little bit better.