WHY I RATE: Skinny Malone

Selected by: Aaron Bishop
Photography: Alex Lambert

Name: Skinny Malone

Where He’s From: Hackney, East London

When He Started: “Maybe three or four years ago is when I decided music was my job and when I decided I wanted to do nothing but music. I don’t remember when I actually started making music, though. I’ve always kind of just made music, even in school.”

Genre: Alternative Rap

File Next To: Octavian, House Of Pharaohs, Jevon

Sounds Like: “I feel like if you put A$AP Rocky, Skepta and someone like Smokepurpp in a blender, you’d probably have me.”

First Track That Inspired Him: “Dizzee Rascal’s ‘I Luv U’. 100%! That tune was hard, man.”

We currently seem to be in an era where artists are lauded for being able to write a “hit” song in ten minutes, and quantity is often picked over quality, making it less common to see an artist think so deeply about their craft. But this in-depth nature is just one of the things that sets Skinny Malone apart from his rap peers. Even down to how he wants his fans to feel and interpret his music, if it has his name associated with it, be sure that Skinny Malone—with help from his team in the execution—was very hands-on in the process.

Fearlessly jumping on trap beats that would perhaps be closer associated to American artists, Skinny keeps everything else distinctly British, bringing his unique swagger and charisma into his music through both his bars and his videos, with his attention to detail marking him out in a lane of his own. It’s not just in music where his layered personality comes through, though. On his upcoming birthday (July 4), which he declares as “National Skinny Day”, he will be putting on a show for his supporters and holding a party to allow those around him to have the best, carefree time. Retelling the story, he tells TRENCH: “I hate my birthday! I don’t celebrate my birthdays but a lot of good things had been happening so if good things are happening for me, good things are happening for everyone. So that was the one day I called all my family and told them, ‘We are getting LIT!’ One random act of kindness can change the world.”

Although he may come across as having a grounded, clear-headed mindset amidst the chaos, things haven’t always been easy for the Hackney-born artist. At the age of 17, he was kicked out of his family home, later moving to Bedfordshire and finding himself in a hostel. But Skinny reflects on those times, recalling lyrics from his latest single “Jiggy Ninja Skinny” and breaking them down and referencing them back to his own life, as meaning that “being homeless isn’t a reason to drop nothing. You just have to go through stuff.” It’s this same never-say-die attitude and defiant mentality that has now seen him connect with the Havana Club to develop not only his upcoming EP, Hidden In Plain Sight, but also a documentary.

“Having a brand like Havana Club giving you a boost, it’s like I’ve learned these things and now I can implement this knowledge that I have, properly,” he says. Skinny Malone describes the EP as being inspired by unapologetically being himself, wanting to allow his fans to know him and laying everything on the table. It’s also set to house six songs with a Samuel Eni-conducted interview running throughout, explaining the deeper thought processes behind each track with Skinny self-describing it as being “open, honest and raw.” When talk turns to the documentary, he says that the ups that it covers would be “the shows, the travelling, the cool stuff”, and the downs would be about “the real stuff, the grown-up stuff that we don’t show the cameras”, highlighting his full commitment to showing all sides of himself to his fans.

Skinny Malone is a man with lofty goals and ambitions but carries himself with a confidence that makes you hesitant to ever bet against him. Having gone through more than most, his main drive and motivation still comes from helping others, showing the character of the man behind the music. When asked about what he wanted people to take away from the upcoming doc and EP drops, his answer is simple: “I'm not telling you what you should do. I'm just telling you that you can do it.”

TRENCH Highlight...

With a heritage born out of Cuban street culture, and a growing following in the UK, Havana Club have launched a program to give a little something back to the scene. By continually collaborating with up and coming talent from a variety of disciplines, the rum brand are providing a platform for rising stars to develop their craft. The recent partnership with Skinny Malone is the first of many exciting collabs with cultural creators. Watch this space.

Posted on August 23, 2019