"Spoken word is a treasured artform that mirrors ourselves. People need to express themselves to see themselves." - Malik Yusef
Malik Yusef, (or 'The WordSmyth', as he is also known), is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Having been in the business for nearly 10 years, Malik has become recognized as one of the best rap and spoken word artists around, and has demonstrated his unique style of poetry on numerous television programmes, such as BET's Rap City and HBO's 'Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry'. Add to that his appearance on tracks by the likes of Method Man ('Ghetto B.I. '), Carl Thomas ('Trouble Don't Last...') and Common ('My City'), and you have a rather impressive background to work from.
With all these accomplishments behind him, Malik Yusef is now ready to drop his debut album, entitled 'The Great Chicago Fire... A Cold Day In Hell'. The album boasts collaborations with artists as prominent as Kanye West and Twista, as well as the aforementioned Carl Thomas and Common, and also features lesser known vocalists and rappers, like Chantay Savage, Dasha Kelly and Bigg Nastee.
The album is given its introduction with the release of the track 'Wouldn't You Like To...' featuring Common, Kanye West and JV. The song originally appeared on the 'Coach Carter Soundtrack', and having been one of the best contributions to that compilation, is fully deserved of a single release. The track is about the trappings of wealth and the negative affects these have on the women, as Kanye raps: "Five years ago you was so Fugees/Now you don't want nothin' unless it cost a few G's..." Malik uses his verse to familiarise himself with listeners, as he rhymes: "Malik Yusef, bet your baby momma know the name/The most critically acclaimed wordsmith in the game/I give you words spit with flames/Stay to myself and let nerves mix with lames..."
The follow-up single is set to be 'Get Ready' featuring the seductive vocals of Carl Thomas. Malik rhymes comfortably over the Ivan Dupèe beat, holding it down for Chi-Town as he delivers one of the best Hip Hop/Soul joints of the year. The album also includes a remix of this track, which sees Malik and Carl joined by Twista, Juice and Marvo 11, providing a fresh, upbeat alternative to the original.
Malik's debut album contains a number of laid-back, sensual songs, which best display his original poetry and clever wordplay. Prime examples of these are 'Auto-Eroticism', which features Chantay Savage singing over the jazzy beat, and 'The Game' with Jamiesha Trice, who provides a brilliant backing for Malik's rhymes on how he got into 'the game'.
One of the tracks which are most likely to catch your ear however, is 'How Wild Are You' featuring Dasha Kelly, Bigg Nastee and Feloney, which has a great bassline to groove to and a memorable chorus to sing along to. 'Conversations With God' is another hot track, even with its prayer-like chorus. On this cut, Malik is accompanied by Makaela and Mr Mirajj, who together deliver their version of the world through God's eyes.
'The Great Chicago Fire... A Cold Day In Hell' is more of an alternative rap album; if you're only interested in the 50 Cents of this world, then this is not for you. On the other hand, if you're open to all interpretations of rap music, then you should definitely check this out, for Chicago's Malik Yusef is set for big things in 2005.
Look out for Malik Yusef's 'The Great Chicago Fire... A Cold Day In Hell' out on Zoawe/Nice Tunes in June 2005.