Sometimes, one event can change a person’s life, and for multi-cultural hip hop artist Steven Malcolm, that event was a church service. Raised in western Michigan and coastal Florida, Steven grew up in search of a sense of identity. When he was 10, his father, a native Jamaican was deported back to the Caribbean and his then single mother left town a few years later, leaving Steven to fend for himself as a young college student in Grand Rapids, MI. When a friend invited him to a church service one day, one which incorporated hip hop, dance, and worship, Steven found a supportive community and started making message-driven music. The experience gave him the sense of identity he needed and changed the course of his life. He soon released his first album, the independently released Monster’s Ink, as was signed to Word Entertainment, becoming the first ever rap artist on their roster. Established as a hip hop newcomer to watch, he then released his self-titled major label debut album, which caused him to soar in popularity. Having evolved his sound over the course of his albums, 2019’s The Second City, which focused on messages of hope, redemption, and ambition, became the album with which Steven found his sound as an artist. With songs that blend commercial rap, pop, Christian rap, and reggae, and which reflect his faith and contain fiercely-delivered rhymes, he has received 5 Dove Award nominations and more than 31 million on-demand streams. In 2020, Steven had the opportunity to collaborate with Grammy-winning reggae/dancehall artist Shaggy for the remix of “Fuego”, allowing him to tap into his Jamaican roots. On July 23rd, Steven released his brand new EP All Is True. In April, he released “Glory On Me”, the first single from the EP which saw him collaborate with Childish Major and Taylor Hill. The track was also produced by Grammy award winner Street Symphony of Track or Die (Nipsey Hussle’s “Hussle & Motive”). For Steven, All Is True is his truth. Every lyric and every song is his truth. A new father, as well, he hopes to lay a foundation of stability, hard work and a better life for his son. He sees himself as the breaker of generational curses. With the drive, ambition, and vision to create his own reality and to keep his music and brand growing, Steven Malcolm believes in himself and strives to be a household name. With plenty of momentum to make his dreams come true, Steven Malcolm is an artist to keep on your radar! You can connect with Steven Malcolm via the following links:
You had a tough childhood and had to fend for yourself as a young college student in Grand Rapids, MI. What can you tell me about being introduced by a friend to a local church service that incorporated hip hop, dance, and worship? You have said that prior to that, your life didn’t really have a clear direction. How do you feel that experience changed the course and direction of your life?
Yeah. Honestly, it gave me identity. Any young man in this world, specifically growing up in the context of being without their dad, there is a lack of identity. I don’t care what anybody says. Any boy or young man needs a dad to help steer him and try to find his identity as a man. And me, I didn’t have that and so when I was introduced to and thought about my friend’s church, it’s like “Ok. Hip hop and then church. How does that even mix? How does that even work?”. But walking in there and hearing the word and diving into scripture and knowing who our Heavenly Father is, like I really dove into that. And I found my heavenly father due to the lack of my earthly father.
What can you tell me about releasing your first album, Monster’s Ink, independently and then about signing with Word Entertainment and becoming the first rap artist on their roster?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! So Monster’s Ink…I’m surprised you even know about it. Usually, like, the day 1’s know about that, before I was even poppin’. But yeah. That was fun man. That was, like, my project when I was indie and was just like “How can I start branding myself? What is my sound?”. And that’s all that was. It was just me trying to find my sound, so I locked in and mixed and mastered that whole thing and put it out. Then, when I got signed…honestly, one of the biggest reasons why I got signed is because I did everything myself. I was a real big hustler, when it comes to, like, doing my own thing, everything myself, and booking my own shows and just staying busy. Like an entrepreneur, basically. So it was super cool and super dope. And then I got signed and the shit took off.
You released your major label self-titled debut album after signing with Word Entertainment and followed that with The Second City. What can you tell me about the evolution of your sound with each album and about finding your sound and identity as an artist with The Second City?
With The Second City, that’s where I really taped into, like, “Ok. The branding is important. The story is important. I have to just do something more than just rap.” And so, the transition from the debut to The Second City was just less experimental and more zoning into who Steven Malcolm is and what my sound is going to be. And thinking of The Second City, I really wanted to incorporate my heritage and who Steven Malcolm really is and one big part of my story is that father piece and my dad, he’s Jamaican. And so, The Second City is actually Montego Bay, Jamaica’s nickname.
In what ways have you aimed to incorporate faith-based rhymes with modern hip hop and merging the two? How would you describe the Christian hip hop music scene currently?
With merging the two, I would just say being myself. All my career, when I started really making Christian hip hop music, I’ve got a lot of homies who ain’t saved. And family who ain’t saved. And so, I play it for them. When I’m in the gym, I throw my tunes on and I always get the comment “Like, yo. This is Christian, yo? This is Christian?”. Me, like, I rarely listen to Christian music. I just really don’t. But I’m just inspired by real hip hop. That’s what I grew up on and so I think the sound, it just comes automatically. One thing too, my pastor had told me, like we’ll just be having a bible study and I’ll see some scriptures and I’ll explain it. And my way of explaining it is just, like, a hood way of explaining. Just the terms I use and how I would translate things. Somebody on the block can understand it and somebody in the church pews can understand it. And I feel like the lord really did that on purpose, for me to be able to walk that line of really merging the two. And the state of Christian hip hop right now…I would say it’s getting back on it’s feet. I would say it kind of had, like, a rocky time a year or two ago, but now with this young generation of young cats and this new young wave, people are really taking back that mantle of being really unashamed of Christian hip hop and really taking that name and that title and being unashamed of that title. It’s getting back to a good spot.
You’ll be releasing your new EP All Is True on July 23rd. What the creative process like in writing the EP and what inspired the songs? What kind of message do you hope people take away from it?
Yeah! So, All Is True is my sound and my why. This is where it’s just like, “Ok. Now ain’t no more games. I know what I want to say. I know what I want to do.” The creative process was…shoutout to Street Symphony. The homie who I used to literally…when we first met, I would pull him aside and just be like “Yo. Give me some wisdom.” He’s a super ill producer and really connected when it comes to the streets and his wisdom is just out of this world. But yeah, with Street Symphony, to be able to go from getting wisdom from him to him literally producing a whole project for me, I was super, super geeked. We locked in in West Palm Beach, FL for a week and literally we was recording, like, every day from like 4 PM to 6 in the morning. It was the first time I was like “Man, some cats have me on some real rap stuff. On a real rapper routine.” So the creative process was real industry and I loved it and we was up all night. And, man, I was with a creative genius and a legend. Shoutout to Street, man. The message is really just, honestly just being proud to know that everything I said and all my lines, it’s all true. That’s the blessing in it. That’s the blessing of it, is that what I say and what I have to say is the truth. Every song and every lyric all is true.
You released the lead single from the EP, “Glory On Me”, in April. What can you tell me about collaborating with Childish Major and Taylor Hill on the track?
It was dope! I’m a huge fan of Childish Major. You know, that whole Dreamville, J.Cole sound. The conscious flows. I was a fan. And so, to work with him was dope. But me, it was just like “Let me meet this cat”, so on the video shoot we got to meet and got to chop it up and he’s a great human being and a solid individual. To me, that’s the most important thing with who I’m collaborating with. Are they solid? Are they real? I don’t like that super star act. You know what I’m saying? So, with Childish Major, the vibes was super dope. He came on the record and ripped it and he’s a true believer in the lord and in the gospel, so it’s super dope and he’s a super dope hip hop artist. As far as Taylor Hill, he’s just a genius and a ball of talent wrapped in flesh (laughs). He’s always dope. We worked together on The Second City, as well. So shoutout to Taylor Hill.
You also collaborated with Shaggy last year on a remix of “Fuego”, which allowed you to tap into your Jamaican roots. What was that experience like for you?
Man! That was crazy. It was surreal too. We all grew up on Shaggy! Everybody, at some point in their life, was singing “It Wasn’t Me”. So, yeah, with me being Jamaican and him being a legend in that space, but also with me growing up on his music back in Florida, I had a fan moment where I told him that on the set, right before my man said “Action”. I let him know this is crazy. That was a surreal moment. I’ll always remember that moment.
You became a father last year-congratulations! In what ways do you feel that your struggles in life have shaped you into a family man? You have talked about how it taught you the difference between your calling and your purpose. What can you tell me about that distinction?
Yeah. That’s a good one. Man, I would say honestly, when my son was born, I learned that there’s a difference between my calling and my purpose. My calling is to spread the gospel through my hip hop music and to tell people about truth and to be an impactful person in the world. But my purpose in life, I feel like truly, my upbringing with the absence of my dad and mom being addicted to alcohol and drugs growing up, I have the opportunity now to be a father and literally break the generational curses. I’m the only one who went to college in my family. I’m the only one who got married in my family. I’m the only one who had a child in marriage in my family. I’m the only one, I think, with one baby mama. You know what I mean? Everybody else got multiples. So, I’m a curse breaker in my family. And I don’t depend on anybody and I take care of my family and my responsibilities. I’m not addicted to any substances. And so, with my son, I look at him like “This is the guy who’s really gonna take the family to the next level”. It starts with the foundation of me, leading here and continuing to be that foundation of saying something great for the name Malcolm. That’s my purpose. I feel like that right there is my purpose. That’s bigger than any song, any record, any million streams, any million seat venue. To put my son in a position where he can win and he doesn’t have to struggle and doesn’t have to walk into a bank and ask for a loan and have them say “Well. Can your parents help you? And they be like, nah, because I ain’t got no parents here for me.”
You train as a boxer and love to play basketball. What can you tell me about your hobbies outside of music?
Honestly, like, I’m addicted to the boxing. So I’m in the gym if I ain’t in the studio or with my wife. I love to shop, as well, and go to the movies. I’m a big movie head. And going on dates with my wife. We always go to the movies or to the mall and shop. So I would say shopping and the gym and hitting up the movies. That’s all I do.
That doesn’t sound so bad!
Oh yeah. It’s fun! I have fun.
In your music, you talk about your message of redemption and hope. With everything going on in the world right now, what gives you hope?
Yeah. Just knowing that God is still in control. At the end of the day, he knows what’s going on. We have our opinions and our thoughts and analysis and our fake narrative news. But God knows what he’s doing and I trust in that and at the end of the day, he’s still in control. So that gives me hope.
A lot of artists incorporate hip hop and activism. Along those same lines of everything that’s going on in the world right now, do you strive to use your music as a means of activism and get that kind of message across, however that might look to you?
Yeah. Absolutely! To be 100% transparent, I’m still working on the right…how can I say it? The right…I can’t say intention. I have a bad past when it comes to experiencing racism. I always tell people that I learned how to fight growing up because I lived in this town for a couple of years that was, like, mad racist. Me and my sister were like 2 of the 5 Black people in the city and that’s where I first heard the N word. Somebody called me the N word and I punched him. And so, when it comes to, like, racism and justice and police brutality, it’s touchy subject for me. I struggle with getting angry still and tweetin’ what I shouldn’t tweet (laughs). So, I pray about it all day and it’s not as bad as it used to be, but I have to find a calm headspace where I’m not bashin’ anybody, but just being a voice. You know what I mean? Because I’m quick to want to give somebody the hand instead of being positive. So I’m still workin’ on that.
Who are some of your favorite hip hop artists right now? Are there any new artists that you’re getting into?
Man. Right now…trying to think of any new artists. It’s hard. Jack Harlow. I got his debut album, and it was super nice. I’m a huge Big Sean fan. I’m from the Midwest…Michigan. So I’m big on him. The Migos album is super hard. I love how they’re actually, like, making good records now instead of just good singles.
What’s next for you and what are your goals? What are your hopes for your career going forward?
Honestly, just to keep the music growing and keep the brand growing. I’m a live show monster, so I’m trying to tour and sell out venues. I’m really trying to go all the way with the music thing. I really believe in it and believe in the sound and the message. But most importantly, I believe in myself. So, we gonna do it up. I’m trying to be a household name, not only in Christian hip hop, but in hip hop period, and try to make a stamp and impact in that space, as well. We gonna keep it rockin’!