Maliibu Miitch is a 22-year-old Bronx native who is well on her way to becoming one of rap's most honest and inspirational success stories. In the past year, she has turned down multiple offers from record labels and noted names in order to start her own all-female label, Hood Foreign. So, we are super excited to premiere her debut EP, which also goes by the name Hood Foreign. Give it a listen on the VICE SoundCloud player below:
After bumping her banger, "Valid," all summer, we chatted with Maliibu about being on tour, boy bands, and some of the trials and tribulations that come with being a female MC in a predominantly male genre. Her outspoken nature makes it pretty clear that she subscribes to the tried and true hip-hop m.o. of giving zero fucks. Although it seems a bit aggresive, she assured us that she knows exactly what she wants and how she's going to get it.
VICE: How did you come up with your name?
Maliibu Miitch: I was watching Paid in Full for the first time and I really liked Mekhi Phifer's character and his aura. So I just went by Miitch at first and added on Maliibu later cause it sounded good.
How do you feel about all this newfound attention?
It’s cool. I think I got used to it after social-networking on Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook. People started noticing me and from there it just basically heightened to where I am now.
How did you first start rapping?
My best friend Molly Mccoy got me into it. About three years ago she called me up one day and she started to freestyle to Gucci Mane's "Wasted." After I heard her freestyle, I told her I wanted to try rapping too. So, I started freestyling over the phone. She was really into it, so I just went with it.
Besides your friends, who else has influenced you?
It’s funny because growing up I didn’t listen to rap. I know I shouldn’t be saying this right now, but I listened to Spice Girls, ’N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, and Christina Aguilera. It was weird because I was living in the Bronx and there was a lot of rap coming out of there then, but I wasn’t into it. I started listening to rap in middle school around the time that 50 Cent released "Wanksta."
Photo by Miyako Bellizzi
You turned down two major record labels and started Hood Foreign, which is generally unheard of in an industry that's saturated with people looking for their big break.
Well, I originally started it because I wanted to make a name for myself. When I first started rapping, my name was built up around everyone else and I didn't like that. So, I just picked up and left that situation. I didn’t care who they were and I didn’t give a fuck how big they were, I just wanted to do it on my own. So, when I had those meetings with MGM and RCA, I felt like I wasn’t ready yet. I wanted to start my own thing, so I started Hood Foreign, the first female-only label. We have the A$AP boys and that’s all dudes, so I thought to myself, You know what? Why can’t there be girls rapping and singing about female empowerment? So that’s where that came from. I just wanted to have my own thing. Something that's built off my name and not someone else's.
How do you think women are represented in the hip-hop scene?
There’s a big misunderstanding because we’re supposed to rap about sex, be more sexy, and be more naked. My music is blunt and in your face and I want people to see that before people peg me as just another female rapper. I want to be an artist—that’s it. I don’t want to be labeled as a rapper or a female rapper for that reason, I just want to be labeled as an artist in general.
When do you think you'll be truly successful?
Success will come to me when I'm able to move my mom, my sisters, and my brother out of the Bronx. That'll be a big accomplishment for me.
Is there anything you learned about yourself when you were recording Hood Foreign Mixtape?
I learned a lot actually. I vent a lot, and I used to vent in the wrong way. I would do something stupid or act on my emotions without thinking. A lot of things happened to me last year and that really affected me, and so that’s what I put into the album. On the EP, one of my favorite songs is “Face Down” because I got to vent and say everything I wanted to get off my chest. I learned how to channel my emotions into my music. I also think my stage presence has improved, because I never used to perform like I do now. Making Hood Foreign Mixtape gave me a lot of confidence.
Photo by Miyako Bellizzi
Is there anything in particular that you want your fans to take away from this album?
That I’m not going anywhere, and that it’s OK to be yourself. It’s OK to express how you really feel and not worry about someone coming down on you for it, or someone saying, “Hey, that’s not right.” To me, if I’m right, I’m right. If I say something, I think I'm right no matter what anyone else says, and that’s how my music is. I say some off-the-wall shit on Hood Foreign and that’s OK because it's how I felt. It’s cool to be yourself, and it's OK to say what you feel.
Who are your dream collaborators?
50 Cent, hands down. There are a lot of people I would like to work with, but I want to put myself out there first. Sometimes a rapper wants to jump on your song and they tell you that's it's gonna be big. I don’t want that. I want to promote myself until I'm in a good position where it would make sense to work with more established artists.
Any words of advice for young rappers?
Take your time with it because you only get one shot. Take your time with your decisions, and make sure you have a strong team and come from an authentic scene. Don't be afraid to get creative and just run with it. Don't worry about what anyone else has to say as long as you believe in what you're doing and it feels right.
More music from VICE: