Haleek Maul: “I Created This Record With An Agenda And A Purpose “
It was about three years ago when I first heard about Haleek. It was in the wake of his Oxycoteen EP release and FADER Gen F feature where the then 16-year old was touted as one to watch. After checking out his music, I really wasn’t a fan of the dark content – making me one of those Bajans that, according to him, didn’t really fuck with his music. But I would still check out the stuff he would release from time to time during his three year “hiatus.”
In early November, Maul dropped Prince Midas and I was finally sold. The diminutive teenage-rapper, who had a hand in majority of the project’s production with frequent collaborator Shy Guy, delivered one of the best rap mixtapes/albums that I have heard for the year.
I reached out to Haleek via email to get his thoughts on the project, getting back into producing, and why he no longer worries about people who may not like his music.
Images via Instagram | Interview by Carlos Brathwaite
Carlos Brathwaite: It has been three years since your last release, Oxyconteen EP, how does it feel to be putting out another project again?
Haleek Maul: It’s pretty awesome, because I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of positive experiences with my music. Also, because I’m putting it out on my own, there’s not really much pressure to perform on my part. I just get to make whatever I want, whenever I want.
How much have you grown as an artist/person since?
A lot. I think you can tell in the subject matter: it’s a lot less ego-centric and a lot less self-loathing. This record is more or less a record of my growth over that time period.
When did you start working on “Prince Midas,” and how long did it take?
I started working on Prince Midas as soon as i finished Oxyconteen, the outro was actually written in December 2012. I always knew I wanted to expand on the whole “Prince Midas” thing. I wasn’t sure how to make it just right. But it worked out, I think [Laughs].
What is the meaning behind the title?
Prince Midas is essentially an analogy which directly compares millennials to their parents’ generation in the sense that we’ve come into a world that has been crafted in such a way that media and material holds absolute power. The status symbol that is the dollar has brainwashed us into throwing away our own humanity. That’s what this is about: reclaiming that, becoming more sensitive, but at the same time just transcending it all and understanding true purpose.
Looking at the tracklist, I see you co-produced 7 songs on the tape. What made you get back into production?
I never really stopped, it was just a matter of what I let the public see. Right now I have about 300+ unreleased beats that can probably be songs, but I make them out of a need for catharsis. It’s like a painter or something. It’s not like you’ve seen all of Matisse’s doodles.
“Dreamin’” is the one song I’m looking forward to hearing. How did you get Jah Koda for that?
Koda is the man, so obviously I reached out. And in late 2014 [and] we cut the demo at Strat Carter’s studio when I came home to visit my gran. It was quick and beautiful. He’s an amazing person and is going to go very far.
What do you want your fans, and casual listeners alike, to take away from this?
Everything or nothing at all, doesn’t matter to me. I created this record with an agenda and a purpose, but that purpose is also very much personal. I do understand a lot of people will not connect with the work on an intellectual level, and that’s fine. At the end of the day it’s just about how it makes you feel. I feel eventually the teachings would seep in.
Switching gears: How surreal is it that you can back home and basically be unknown despite having such a fruitful career so far overseas?
I think that’s just how Barbados is and people will eventually gravitate once they see we’re making waves. I don’t search for fans, but when they do come I love them unconditionally. I’m not worried about it. You can’t force someone to like something if they aren’t mentally prepared for it.
You once said “No one [in Barbados] really fucks with my music,” – and I must admit that I am one who warmed to your sound (mostly your recent stuff) – Is this something you still care about, though?
As I said, it’s just nonsensical at a point to worry about it. I usually say stuff like that as a joke but I really don’t care. People will do whatever they want and I’ve come to accept that and love it. It’s a challenge, I love to fuck with people [Laughs].
If you had to pick your Top five songs from the project, which ones would you choose?
“Maintain”, “Sinking”, “Money God”, “Return” & “Dreamin” I’d say are my favourites but honestly I love this record so much [Laughs]. So it’s really not even like that for me; I just like performing those songs the most. I hope I feel the same way about the next record, I’m pretty close to finishing it.
Listen to Prince Midas in full here.
Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.