Six-Time Grammy Winner Malik Yusef Uses Liberal Arts to Enlighten Communities
Six-time Grammy winning artist, poet, songwriter, and producer Malik Yusef (
@malikyusef) is the Director of Arts and Culture for Hip Hop Caucus. At the Hip Hop Caucus, Malik directs organizational and campaign strategies that utilize the arts and culture to make communities and move them to action. He brings his unique talents music, fashion, film, television, poetry, and fine arts, and organizes his peers to contribute their talents to help set a real example in the community. In addition, he has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Beyonce (Co- Wrote Sandcastles) featured on her album “Lemonade“, co-writing & producing 15/18 tracks on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, NE-YO, Elle Varner, Karmin, Raheem DeVaughn, Crystal Waters and more.
The Hype Magazine recently sat down with the multi-talented quadruple threat to discuss a variety of different topics from his poetry influencers, contributes to Kanye West double-platinum album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“, and even dropping jewels for the independent artists and the youth in the community.
Finally, speaks on what he and the rest of his colleagues at The Hip Hop Caucus, advice he would share with his younger self, and the type of music that inspired him coming up as a young adolescent. Malik Yusef Interview with The Hype Magazine can be seen below.
Was music something that you have always wanted to be a part of growing up or was it a passion that you developed over time?
When I was a shortie I was good at making melodies. I liked doing that for fun, I didn’t consider it making music, though. I would just hear things and turn everything into a melodic cadence or flow for myself.
Being that you are also a poet with a heavy influence from the likes of Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, Haki Madhubuti, Malcolm X, and Phillis Wheatley. Who were some of the musicians you enjoyed listening to growing up?
I listened to a lot of Country music – I liked Red Sovine, I also liked Classical music like Grigory Romanovich, and of course being from Chicago I was heavily influenced by the Blues.
You have already earned 5 Grammy Awards and up for 7 more nominations this coming weekend. What will mean to you to add some more hardware to your current collection and what are some of the next goals you want to achieve?
It was huge. I was just determined and kept telling myself that I was going to win. Nobody likes to lose consecutively and continuously and that goes for anybody in anything. As far as next goals I want to win an Album of The Year for myself, and I want to re-create the poetry category in the Grammys to include Spoken Word albums.
Can you describe to us what it takes to help create a Double Platinum, as you were a heavy influence as a writer on Kanye “Album of the Year”My Dark Twisted Fantasy” released on November 22, 2010?
It’s extremely difficult. So much so that not many people can do it.
You have worked with some of today most influential artist such as Katy Perry, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, and Adam Levine, and the list goes on. Which project to date do you cherish the most as a music poet and composer?
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
If you could give your younger self any advice at all what would it be and why?
Set goals and set standards at the same time.
You currently are the Director of Arts and Culture of The Hip Hop Caucus. Can you tell us what your daily responsibilities consist of and what are some of the events we can expect this year?
My goal has been to guide the youth and be the pulse for what it means to be a creator in this day and age and then use that influence & power to make changes in our local communities.
Have you thought about having a recurring spoken word and open mic events to allow the independent artist a platform to showcase their talents?
Yes, and I am currently working with like minds and creatives around the country to do so.
What are some of your business aspirations outside of the entertainment business you want to explorer?
Education across all fronts. I feel like we can and need to be doing so much more.
You co-wrote Sandcastles on Beyoncé’s album Lemonade and produced on legendary band “WAR” on their first studio album in 20 years, released in June 2014. How hands on are all those individuals during the creation process?
What is the best advice you can offer to an unsigned artist looking to get their music out there on a budget?
1) Everyone has a budget it just depends on what you choose to spend it on.
2) Don’t just create music and put it out. Just like firing a weapon, make sure you have a target.