Maaly Raw Steps Up His Sound on Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Luv Is Rage 2′
Philly might be the most neglected city in rap history. Every period of hip-hop comes with an important Philly artist—Schoolly D, Will Smith, Black Thought, Beanie Sigel—yet the city doesn't get as much recognition as New York usually does. Lately, Philly's signature battle rap sound has been splintering; Meek Mill is helping keep street rap commercially viable with an uncompromising style, while Lil Uzi Vert is going in a whole new direction with influence from Atlanta. Then there's Kur, one of the nicest new cats who spits testimonials like he's dry heaving from the bottom of his stomach.
Maaly Raw is the 22-year-old producer soundtracking Philly's new wave. He's responsible for some of Uzi's biggest hits ("Do What I Want," "Money Longer") and has been working with the Luv Is Rage rapper since 2014, when he heard Uzi guest on a song Maaly had produced for Kur called "I Don't Give a Fuck." Ever since, Maaly's become Uzi's closest musical collaborator, constantly either sending beats from Philly or joining Uzi at Don Cannon and DJ Drama's Means Street studio in Atlanta. "He changed his style up a lot of times," says Maaly of Uzi's evolving sound throughout the years, "but when I first started working with him, he was kinda lyrical, then he started getting more into the melodies, into how he is now."
Born in West Philly but raised in Delaware County, Maaly learned about producing beats from his cousin B-Jones. Maaly had always wanted a drum set, and some of his favorite producers included Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd and Lex Luger, so when he found out about Fruity Loops, it only took a quick tutorial from his cousin to set Maaly off. "After that, I just never stopped," he remembers. "I basically taught myself everything after that." He still uses FL to this day.
Maaly started working with Kur in 2014 when the MC went on Twitter to ask for beats and someone recommended the producer's work. They hit it off quickly, making records like "33 Shots" and "Catch Up" and establishing a chemistry in the studio. "We're kinda similar," says the producer. "I don’t really talk a lot, he don’t really talk a lot."
When Maaly heard Uzi spitting on Kur's track, he wanted to work with the North Philly MC, so he told his manager Mean, who knows Uzi since way back, to make it happen, and they started working together that same year on an early Uzi tape called The Real Uzi.
When we spoke with Maaly earlier this week, he was in Atlanta at Means Street working with Uzi day and night to finish the long-awaited Luv Is Rage 2 project, which Uzi first announced back in November 2016. There are reports the album is due this fall, and according to Maaly, the project is "about 90%" finished right now. "It’s basically done. I guess we’re just working on extra songs trying to really perfect it," he tells us. Atlantic couldn't be reached for comment as of publication, but Maaly says the label has set a deadline for the project to be turned in, though he wouldn't say what the date is.
"We’ll be in the studio from 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. We basically sleep there," Maaly says about recording Luv Is Rage 2. "Uzi works fast, real fast. I’ll pull up a beat, he’ll do it. He’ll hop right up and wanna work on the next one right after that. It just be like that, all day."
Both Maaly and Uzi have been developing their styles on the new album. Maaly says he used to put too many sounds into his beats, but now he's simplifying them and focusing on "really putting together a record." As for Uzi, he's apparently more picky about choosing beats than he's ever been before, but Maaly has more production on the new album than any previous Uzi project.
Asked how the project sounds, Maaly calls it a "classic." "Everything [Uzi] been doing, he just elevated it, that’s all. Different sounds—the way I’m comin’ on it, I’m comin’ different. Some of the stuff on [Luv Is Rage 2], people not expecting from me, so that’s gonna be exciting when you hear it."
Maaly just scored a placement on Meek Mill's Wins & Losses album with the Quavo collab "Ball Player," but he's got his eyes set on working with more rap stars in the near future. "I wanna work with 21 Savage, Young Dolph, Tee Grizzley, A Boogie," he says. "I really wanna work with Kodak Black, too. I know he’s about to drop his album, so I’m definitely trying to finesse that." He's also producing an entire project for Kur, and he's got a couple more surprises up his sleeve too.
"I’ve been working with a new artist, I don’t even wanna’ spill the beans," he says. "But you can definitely expect a lot of Maaly Raw for the rest of the year. We just gonna finish out the year strong."
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