Haiku Review: Notorious - Malaa

by Henry Maher

Many people often come to music review sites or forums for just that: music reviews. What people often don’t realise is they secretly yearn for the old Japanese poetry medium, the Haiku. With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to resolve the issue. Welcome to the Haiku Review. Come for the Haikus, stay for the reviews but then promptly leave as they’re both terrible.

Haikus be best

Biggie remix, very fresh

Don’t judge me

There are not many things that The Notorious B.I.G. and I have in common. As far as I’m aware, he didn’t publicly release any haikus and I am not often referred to as Big Poppa. The recent remix of Going Back To Cali by Malaa is in a similar vein. It contains the start of the first bars as a sample, but after that the remix deviates heavily from the original source material, while still staying true to the character of the piece, albeit, in an abstract manner.

The track itself originates from new kid on the block French producer, Malaa, who has been closely linked to established French producers such as DJ Snake and Tchami; their collaborations can be found on Malaa’s SoundCloud. Having made such waves in the dance music scene, the sole question being asked currently is “Who actually is Malaa?” – something that is playfully joked at on Malaa’s SoundCloud in the series of mixes entitled Who Is Malaa? Regardless, the producer is definitely an individual to watch in the near future, with a new material coming out seemingly on a monthly basis.

Taking Biggie Smalls and trying to make your own mark is a hard enough job. Completely stripping it back, removing the calm beats and mellow flow that Smalls was known for and replacing it with deep bass, tranced-out synth and harsh snare is an exceedingly bold move indeed. Going Back To Cali donates vocal samples for the new track. From Biggie’s posthumous album, Life After Death, released after he was shot in California.

“Biggie isn’t dead! He’s on an island married to Tupac,” I hear you scream from your illuminati blog. Well dead or not Biggie Smalls has yet to complain about Malaa’s usage of his vocals. Fortunately, Malaa has managed to transfer the meaningful, frequently dark lyrics Biggie was known for from tracks such as Suicidal Thoughts in to a beat that hooks you in, from start to finish. That’s why, unlike a lot of remixes, it’s able to survive the transition between two juxtaposed sounds and can be touted as a success by both fans of Biggie and Malaa alike. That’s probably the finest part about this remix, it can be enjoyed with or without a deeply entrenched knowledge of the B.I.G. himself.

Signed to Confessions, a label whose extravaganza of free music I extol here, the album is available for free. You can find it here.