Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MOLA1 - The new face of Detroit hip hop..."Boom."

Photo Taken by: Steve Galli
Hip Hop is alive and breathing again in Detroit, but this time it is taking new forms and new approaches to the old formula. Artists in Detroit are stepping outside the box and trying something new, even if it’s just taking Hip Hop back to its roots and away from the auto-tuned, overly sampled, radio played hits of today. Right now my favorite local Hip Hop artists are Tunde who performs in full costume with stage dancers (his album drops December 21st) and an Albanian American named Martin Malota whose newest release,  “Boom.”, has been stuck on repeat on my player ever since he sent it to me on Facebook. 

I saw Martin a few months ago when he opened for Action Bronson at The Crofoot. He had a great stage performance and got the room moving while his band, The Definition, played live with him. At the time, I told him when he put out some music to send it over because I loved what I heard and saw that night. When the record appeared in my inbox I was pleasantly pleased because it lived up to his live performance. 

The EP “Boom.” has the same energy that he conveyed to the crowd that night. It is 6 songs in total and tells the story of Malota's life, the good the bad and the ugly. I love the smoothness of Malota’s voice and the meter to his rhymes. Martin is a perfectionist and his attention to detail comes across in the album. This release was a long time in the making and the man himself is not only well-spoken on stage, but also well versed in print; he gave some of the best answers I have ever received in an interview. Take a second and read a little bit about MOLA1. After you fall in love with his personality make sure to download the record at http://mola1.bandcamp.com/. I guarantee that you will be playing this for months to come.

Hip In Detroit - There are not a lot of Albanian Hip Hop artists out there today, how do you think this shapes your music? Do you think it makes you different? How so? 
MOLA1 - "Well, there are definitely a lot of Albanian rappers, but there aren't many signed or extremely popular Albanian rappers out there, aside from Action Bronson, who is half-Albanian. In Europe, it's a whole different story. There are Albanian rappers doing shows with tens of thousands in attendance. In being Albanian, we take great pride in our culture to the point where we support one another, regardless of religion or geography. Many of us come from different nations, but wave the same flag. We have a rich history, dominated by the desire to be a free people. We just celebrated our 100 years of Independence on 11/28/12, after being oppressed by Ottoman rule for 500 years. While it's more peaceful than it's ever been for Albanians in that region, 1912 is pretty recent. I know people died so I that I could be here today. That's heavy. We Albanians have a chip on our shoulder...but we're proud of having a rugged past. I know a lot of us Detroiters can identify with that as we are constantly defending ourselves from the tired old jokes about our city, not to mention constantly having to "bounce back" economically. I'm also a first generation American, so that ties in to my psyche. Between being Albanian, American and a Detroiter, we are fighters. There is an overwhelming sense of pride and revolutionary ideals we hold on to. I think that the oppressed usually make pretty cool music. There's usually a certain passion that comes with the territory. I think that lends itself perfectly to hip-hop music."

Hip In Detroit - You were living in California before you came to Detroit. What brought you here? What kept you here? 
MOLA1 - "It's a long story, but I was born in Detroit and raised in Los Angeles. After my mother and father divorced here in Detroit when I was 1, my whole family, aside from my father, moved to Los Angeles. I have two older sisters, Katrina and Tereza. We had a very rough upbringing. We were very poor. I know it was hard for my mother to raise us, especially after my sister Tereza passed away due to Cancer. Soon after, Katrina ended up moving back to Michigan to live with her father. My Uncle Peter (My father's brother) and Aunt Lisa moved back out to Michigan to start a new life. As I was there, in Los Angeles, as a kid, I took full advantage of my mother not being around and I ran wild until my high school years. Eventually, my uncle and aunt had me move out here to live with them, where I could be raised properly. I was like the Fresh Prince. I went back and forth from Canoga Park High School in California to Troy High School here in Michigan, but I found myself lost again during my college years and my uncle and aunt afforded me the opportunity to come back to Michigan, where I've been ever since. My sister's here and my Uncle and Aunt are here...the three of them have been my parents, ever since I can remember. The main reason I'm here is because they're here...I mean that figuratively also."

Hip In Detroit - Your bio says you started writing at 9 and you just released your 1st piece of recorded music this past November entitled “Boom.”. What took you so long to put something out there for people to take home and listen to?
MOLA1 - "I started writing when my sister Tereza passed away. I remember writing poetry in class when I wasn't supposed to. My sister loved The Beatles and taught me how to play guitar and piano, but nothing stuck with me like her love for poetry. She loved Robert Frost. I think in trying to hold on to her...or what I could understand at that age, I delved further in to songwriting and poetry. Robert Frost was known for his simplicity, but I think he was a lot more complex than people realize. He was practically rapping, himself. He said, 'Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.' Soon after, my poetry made an easy transition to writing rap songs after I heard Slick Rick and the Fresh Prince. I thought they were so imaginative. I've always been interested in music that tells a story...I think most people are. I went through the rap battle circuit and also put down a mix-tape or two, but never released anything to the masses. As the years have gone by, putting out music became intimidating because I wanted it to be flawless. I had this crazy idea that it had to be perfect. I became infatuated with the idea of coming in to the music business and making noise right away. That's one of the reasons why the EP is called "boom." I called it that because it was time to get something out there. I use "boom." in slang all the time as in, It's done. Check it out. "boom." and the other, is that I'm saying hello, as in; I'm making some noise over here. "boom." I'm here now."

Hip In Detroit - I saw you perform live about a year ago at The Crofoot and the energy in the room was palatable, how would you describe a live performance to someone that has not come out and seen you before?
MOLA1 - "I'm passionate. I LOVE this. I live for this music. This is my life. When I'm on stage, I feel like all is right with the world and I'm there to entertain. I promise to give an honest performance, every time. I don't ever "try" to show emotion...I just do because it's me. I'm not putting on a mask or becoming someone when I get out on stage. I'm still me. I'm just louder and easier to see."

Hip In Detroit - I love your tumblr feed, you post a lot of quotes and pictures on there. Do you find inspiration for your writing from visuals? Do these help you create or are they just a way for you to show what you’re interested in?  
MOLA1- "Thank you. I appreciate that. I mean...all of it is relative. I post things on that feed that I'm inspired by. I create things to post to evoke that same emotion in others. I think I'm just expressing myself visually. It's a great outlet for creative people. I like Facebook because it incorporates the verbal side of twitter with the visual side of Tumblr. Everything is there, but there's something cool about Tumblr. It's simple. It's pleasing to the eye and a great way to get lost for a moment."

Hip In Detroit - What does the future hold for Martin? Where do you see yourself and your music 2 years from now?
MOLA1- "In 2 years, I'm hoping to have made a mark in this business. I have some visuals for "boom." in the works, in addition to a full length LP, some singles, collaborations and some more EP's. By that time, I see myself making music and movies, full-time, which is what I consider "making it" in the show business."

Hip In Detroit - What is the best way for people to find you online? Do you have any upcoming shows and, if you don’t, where can people stay in touch with you to find out when a show is booked?
MOLA1 - "www.MOLA1.com holds all the keys, but I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. I'm definitely in writing mode for now, but for shows, the best bet is to Like the Facebook Page and stay tuned."


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