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Meet Maaly Raw, the Rising Producer Behind Philadelphia’s New Rap Wave

After a prolific 2016, Lil Uzi Vert's go-to beatmaker is just warming up.

by David Turner
Feb 17 2017, 10:42pm

Photo by Urbanvisualss

Last year, Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert put out two energetic mixtapes, Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World and The Perfect L.U.V. Tape, which firmly established him as a newcomer to watch. His machine gun-referencing moniker comes from his rapid-fire triplet rapping style, but on those releases, he nimbly jumped between rhyming circles around his peers ("Money Mitch") to crooning love ballads ("You Were Right") to basking in near-tropical-house euphoria ("Ronda (Winners)," which THUMP named as one of the best tracks of 2016). While he got beats from well-known heavy-hitters including Metro Boomin, Nard & B, and Zaytoven, both tapes started with the same distorted drop: "That, that, that, that, th-that be Maaly Raw."

Songs like "Canadian Goose," "Money Longer," and "Do What I Want" captured the creative energy that exist between the two Philly natives, with the 22-year-old producer setting a perfect runway for Uzi's lightning-fast raps. Maaly Raw's FruityLoops beats burst with the thrill of a rocket blast, hewing closer to an over-caffeinated video game soundtrack than simply another trap production. Not surprisingly, he's since become highly in-demand, working with acts including Lil Yachty, A$AP Ferg, and most recently, PnB Rock on the Philly singer and rapper's debut album, GTTM: Going Thru the Motions.

Increasingly splitting his time between his home in Philadelphia and various studios across the country, we recently caught up with him on the phone from Atlanta to discuss his whirlwind year, earliest influences, and more.

THUMP: Looking back on 2016, how do you feel the year was for you as a producer?

Maaly Raw: 2016 was probably my biggest year so far. I had a lot of accomplishments, and in 2017, I'm just trying to expand more and work harder. One of the things that was crazy about 2016 was the [Air] Jordan commercial with [Russell] Westbrook had my beat in there.

How did you first find out about that placement?
[Atlanta DJ and producer] Don Cannon FaceTimed me and showed me the commercial.

What first got you into production?
I was first introduced by my cousin, who had been making beats his whole life, and I'd just be over there with his little brother. We'd be playing around, and one day I told him to teach me how to do it, and in like 20 seconds he taught me a basic step. After that I went home and it [FruityLoops] was already on my computer, because my dad downloaded it and he's a computer technician.

So there was a bunch of stuff on my computer and FruityLoops. It was always hard, but after that day I never stopped and every day kept practicing. I feel like music's always been in me, because when I was younger, I always wanted a drum set for Christmas. I played an instrument in school too.

What instrument did you play?
I played the clarinet, but that wasn't really what I wanted to do. I really wanted to play the drums.

Have you gotten a chance to take them up since?
Every since I started producing that's all I need, I don't even need to do the drums—that's how I do my drums is on the program [FruityLoops].

Who were some of your early influences when you first started producing?
My early influences were guys like Lex Luger, [but] even before I was producing, he was one of my favorite producers to listen to. Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy, all them down south producers.

I was going to say you're from Philadelphia, did you ever take any influence from producers like Jahlil Beats?
Yeah, I came up listening to Jahlil. He was on the Philly scene with Meek—that was definitely a producer at that time I was looking up to.

Could tell me about how you came to meet Uzi?
He's from Philly so it wasn't hard getting in contact with him. He grew up with my manager [Mean Righteous], and I heard him on the radio but I didn't know he was from Philly, I thought he was from down south. I heard him on one of my beats, he was freestyling on a song with Kur called "I Don't Give A Fuck." His verse was crazy and I hit my manager being like "I want work with him, let's get him." After that we started working together, he dropped his [2014] project The Real Uzi and that was our first work.

How it's been working with him the past few years?
Most of the time he's in a different city and I'm in a different city, so I"ll send beats, but if we're in the studio the vibe is crazy and energetic. You're never going to have a dull moment in the studio with Uzi. Just vibe out, throw on the beat, and if he likes it, he'll hop right in the booth and go off the top.

I've noticed a lot of producers are starting to do live solo shows and play their stuff, have you ever thought about doing that?
Yeah, I've thought about it, but right now I think that'd be good in the future when I'm more out there. Right now I'm just focussed on producing, because I think if I did that, it'd slow me down a little bit. So I'm just focused on producing and kicking down the door.

Do you have any projects coming in 2017 that you're really excited about?
Me and Kur, he's really buzzing right now, we coming out with a project just me and him. Got some stuff coming with [A$AP] Ferg. I got a lot of big singles, I'm just waiting for them to drop. I don't want to spill the beans too much. I don't want to just be known just for Uzi.

David Turner is on Twitter.