Babyface Mal speaks on his process leading up to Festival X & his progress leading up to now
We spoke with Melbourne’s Babyface Mal to break down his career to date, becoming certified within the Australian hip-hop scene, and his process leading up to the infamous ‘Festival X’.
Photo by @misterdesmo
Turkish-Egyptian MC and songwriter Babyface Mal will be performing at Festival X alongside global superstars Don Toliver and Megan Thee Stallion, with the first leg starting this Saturday 26th November. In 2022 alone we have seen his hit single ‘Ya Rab’ rack up nearly 250K Spotify streams and heard his collaborations with nationally-renowned acts such as Nerve and fellow Acclaim All-Star Mason Dane.
These days, it’s easy to see the abundance of success that Mal has had. Nevertheless, we didn’t want to forget what it truly cost him, as Babyface Mal approaches what will be “the biggest solo performance of (his) career”.
Photo by @jrbfilms
Malway Malrose Malik’s story is one of natural selection and perseverance. Better known by his stage name, Babyface Mal, Malway took big steps into the Australian hip-hop scene two years ago but has been creating music since before 2017.
In Grade 7, he had been jumped at school by a couple of kids which prompted him to release his first song and diss track. It wouldn’t be long before he transitioned into rapping, donning his first name as his then-artist name.
On some of his earliest public tracks ‘Ghosts ‘n Goblins’ and ‘Same Same’, Malway relays his experiences surrounding the streets, money, and women. These themes turned out to be the focal point for Babyface Mal’s art to date, as he explains to us how the inner-Melbourne suburb of Windsor had changed throughout his adolescence.
“Back in the days, Windsor wasn’t as developed as it was now. They re-did the local parks because there were kids posted up in corners - Melbourne is always overcast, grey skies and that’s what I wanted (to reflect) with my music”
The then 18-year-old Malway had used his unforgiving surroundings to his advantage, by naturally gravitating towards the raw and unfiltered trap sound, which eventually turned out to be his specialty after changing his name to Babyface Mal in 2020.
Photo by @georgiahaynes
Growing up, Malway named Skepta and 50 Cent as musical influences, which can be heard in Mal’s cadence and content in tracks like ‘Click, Click, Click’ feat. BBG Smokey. Although these artists both have numerous hit records that reflect prolific street dilemmas, their influence on him now stems from something different - values of timelessness and high distinction. This is made clear as Mal recalls widening his musical palette as a consumer after becoming established as a musical artist:
“Growing up, I listened to Skepta because he’s a figurehead and certified in the grime scene. I only started listening to different stuff (Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye) once I started doing music. They’re the greats and pioneers, I listen to this stuff to learn.”
Now at 23 years old, Mal states the importance of keeping it close to your people and living through the natural vibe of life, ensuring that values of loyalty, authenticity and stimulation are prevalent within his music and day-to-day life. As is the case for artists of a similar ilk who opt for originality in a culture of musical trends, Mal describes his music so far as “authentic to what’s going on in my life as we speak.”
Playing devil’s advocate, we also spoke to Babyface Mal about ‘cancel culture’ and how some could argue that his art promotes misogyny, toxicity and violence.
Drawing on authentic morals once again, Malik states the importance of awareness as a consumer and declares that his music isn’t for everyone. When we asked what the dialogue would be like with cultural flag raisers and advocates of cancellation, Babyface Mal had this to say:
“Don’t listen, simple as that … when I’m writing, it’s an internal dialogue. You’re just listening to the vibe that I’m on. If I’m angry or whatever, you’re listening to how we talk. You’re listening to the culture.”
Regardless of agreeableness, the self-awareness and perseverance it takes to be original is honourable. Freedom of speech is undoubtedly vital in a world where people are afraid to have an opinion.
Further adding to his discography, Babyface Mal’s latest collaborations ‘Water to Wine’ feat. Mason Dane and ‘X-Games’ with Nerve & Badrapper see the dynamic artist explore pop-rap and techno sounds. Mal’s main reasoning behind the diversity of his creative portfolio stems from values of legacy and distinction.
“I value legacy - I want to make music that will last the ages … Usually the hook comes to me first, but I’m very particular with beats. We need to make something iconic”
With an abundance of confidence and the backing of Melbourne City on his shoulders, Babyface Mal is evidently more than ready for Festival X. Keeping in mind an audience this size and diverse, let alone performing alongside the likes of Don Toliver, Megan Thee Stallion and Calvin Harris; Festival X will be Mal’s most significant solo performance to date. We asked what the process in preparation for Festival X looked like for him.
“I just try to keep a level head. I’m not really stressing about it but because it’s a festival, it’s still very different … I’m trying to think about how I can make it interesting, and how I can get people rushing to the stage”
Babyface Mal's current ambition is to become an artist that lasts the ages - an icon. An artist that keeps it interesting, authentic and real.
With these values seeping into an abundance of art, it is undeniable that Babyface Mal will go above and beyond at Festival X, propelling him to surpass his current aspirations and thrive in every moment after.
Words by Dexter Saemo