Mali Jo$e embraces self-acceptance in the midst of chaos on ‘Hours b4 Sunrise’
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
With ‘Hours b4 Sunrise’, Perth artist Mali Jo$e has delivered a project that traverses a superbly crafted genre-less approach which represents him entirely to a tee. Fittingly, the project sustains that desire to produce something wholly unique that has been an ever-present factor in Mali's music from the beginning, and the impressive manner in which Mali has continually sought to evolve his sound is fully on display here. His sophisticated approach across an intersection of sounds on the EP highlights his desire to push to make something which represents him entirely and authentically.
The release of ‘Hours b4 Sunrise’ marks Mali's first official EP and follows the ‘DU:SK’ mixtape which was dropped on Soundcloud in October 2020. Further enhancing the project is a production and engineering team comprised of JCAL, Xiro, Abraham Tilbury, Max Black, Outlnd, DXPTH and OJC43. The outstanding synergy Mali has with the production and engineering team can be felt across the EP, with each track a layered platform for Mali to immerse himself wholeheartedly into.
The way ‘Nightlife’ immediately draws the listener in is astounding. Warping 808s and wavy trap production elicit a warmth that fills the listener to their very core, with Mali further elevating the track through his refrain that acts as a self-reminder to be content with the process at hand: “Realise things take time” he assures. Mali’s braggadocious second verse is seriously impressive and as always, frank in its honesty. The track’s dreamy production reflects a recurrent ephemeral aesthetic that undeniably leaves the listener hooked across the whole project, with the surreal ending leading into ‘Portals’ in a satisfying fashion. What a start.
I’ve had the intro to ‘Portals’ running through my head since its March release. The looping vocal sample adds a brilliant urgency to Mali’s bars that reflect on the deeply relatable dilemma between pursuing his dreams and finding contentedness in the world around him. Mali’s flow is breathless alongside the well-layered production, and bars such as “Been going through metamorphosis” and “Trying to open doors but its hard when they stay closed” embody the dichotomy of Mali’s mental state.
Delicate keys and a sombre delivery open this track which equates the pressures of trying to be someone to being stuck in a fire that engulfs one’s everyday living. ‘in Fire’ is significant in speaking to Mali coming to terms with the chaotic and cruel world around him: “Satisfaction never happens in a world full of menace and uncertainty”. Mali is trying to balance the often-difficult line between embracing spiritual self-acceptance and achieving his dreams, with the explosive finale reflecting the intense clash of these mentalities that Mali has endured.
3:59:59 AM ft Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Abraham Tilbury
If ‘in Fire’ is the clash between Mali’s desires for his life going forward, ‘3:59:59 AM’ is arguably the outcome of the very same personal turmoil. Abraham Tilbury’s chorus offers sage wisdom against a backdrop of earnest keys, reverberating bass and a cathartic tone which further allows for Mali to express gratitude for what’s good in life, rather than searching for what’s not there. Furthermore, Mali speaks to refusing to shift who he is for anyone, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi builds on this by offering an emphatic verse that encourages resilience in the face of an oppressive and distorted world.
‘i ain’t scared to die soon’
‘i ain’t scared to die soon’ eloquently displays a raw transparency that reminds me of why Mali Jo$e’s music is something I’m drawn to. The therapeutic track utilises echoey enhanced vocals to create a surreal effect whereby Mali considers never taking in the world around him and finally becoming fearless in the pursuit of what he wants: “I ain’t really scared to die soon, as long as I’m dying for something”.
A reassuring melody: “Don’t be scared, baby be calm, be brave” is sung by Mali over delicate instrumentals in order to illustrate the importance of remaining steadfast and assured in the face of anxiety and uncertainty. The track, whilst seemingly dedicated to someone specific, is a pertinent reminder to listeners that every being undergoes their own struggles, it is simply a matter of understanding and empathising with one another to facilitate personal growth: “The plan is to make sure we all evolve, try to solve the mysteries of life one day at a time”.
‘Be Yourself, Best Of Luck’
‘Be Yourself, Best Of Luck’ offers a gorgeous conclusion to the project which appears to embody Mali’s current outlook on life unreservedly. Within this song it becomes abundantly clear that like all human beings, Mali is still finding his own way; but his one heartfelt piece of guidance to the listener is to be unafraid to be oneself along their own journey. Undeniably, there’s something greater to all of this than what we see in the short-term. The track’s final moments uses a voicemail outro to reflect the importance of a good team and surrounding yourself with the right energy. Fittingly, it is a reassurance in the dark times to back yourself and to remain steadfast through the chaos.
‘Hours b4 Sunrise’ personifies Mali Jo$e’s approach to making music which gravitated us towards him from our start as a platform. Not only does the EP comprise a multitude of sounds, raw lyricism and emotionally-driven vocals, it is an exciting, dynamic and refreshing body of work which inherently defines Mali Jo$e up until this point. The struggles, setbacks, learnings and cathartic realisations; all of it has built Mali to be who he is and where he is at this moment. By continually working on himself personally it is felt in his art, something which speaks to the authenticity in his message.
The technical nous of the production team behind ‘Hours b4 Sunrise’ is fully on display here, all the while never getting carried away with the vocal layering and autotune. To put it simply, the project is excellently measured and balanced. Thematically, the EP reminds one to prioritise happiness and contentedness in the face of supposed urgency. It is essential to trust one’s journey and everything that comes with it. All of the hours before sunrise spent by Mali and his team no doubt juggling their personal anxieties with an acceptance of their realities makes for a truly bold listening experience. Mali Jo$e are unwavering in his honesty, and it is essential that the world is honest with themselves too.
Photos by Dylan Guy (@dylan.guy)
Words by Matthew Badrov