#ATLRiseUp: Malachiae Warren’s “Ghetto Smooth” Sound Is Merging Atlanta’s Hip Hop & R&B Traditions


For the last decade, Atlanta, Georgia has been one of the nerve centers of Hip Hop culture. But prior to the ATL dominating rap, the city birthed some of the leading contemporary voices of Rhythm & Blues.

Chart-topping performers like Usher, TLC, Monica, Xscape, 112, and Ciara cultivated their talents in the Georgia capital. In addition, legends such as Whitney Houston, Babyface, Keith Sweat, and Toni Braxton called Atlanta home at one point in their career.

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It’s from that cultural history that rising R&B representative Malachiae Warren emerges. Not only has he embraced the soul legacy of his hometown, Warren’s recent effort The Ride Out EP pays homage to ATL’s Hip Hop roots as well.

“We have a lot of greats that came out of Atlanta, and a lot of influential music that came from Atlanta,” Malachiae tells AllHipHop.com. “It’s more special when you’re from a city that specializes in that area. Atlanta is music, so to be from here is a blessing.”  

Beyond being raised in a metropolis soaked in music tradition, Malachiae has blood ties to professional musicians as well. His uncle is Grammy-winning music arranger Mervyn Warren, and his mother was once a vocalist.

“I started taking music seriously around 11 or 12. It runs in the family. My mother started in a group,” discloses Malachiae. “She was actually signed to a record label, but when she was pregnant with me she had to put it to the side to make sure I was nurtured and raised right. So now I’m living her dream and mine at the same time.”

The 20-year-old singer/songwriter has been building towards his dream of being a star for a great part of his young life. His early performances included a limited time providing tunes in church, but it was at-home experimentation that foreshadowed Warren’s undeniable drive to make it as an entertainer.

“My mother bought my first cheap little USB mic. I had the Logic Pro program on my Mac computer,” recalls Malachiae. “I said, ‘I want to record music, so I’m going to teach myself how to work this.’ I hooked the mic up, learned how to use the editing system, and started recording from there.”

Malachiae’s maturation consisted of posting covers to YouTube as well as attending the Dallas Austin Music Academy (formerly Don’t Stop the Music). The program provided the North Atlanta High School student immeasurable insight into the business side of the music industry.

“A lot of artists get in the game not knowing what goes on behind the scenes. They don’t know about royalties, percentages, splits, and stuff like that. [The Dallas Austin Music Academy] taught me how not to get screwed over,” Malachiae states. “I look at things differently. I move differently.”

Gaining knowledge about his profession from a program established by a successful music producer surely played a role in Warren’s decision to sign on with a record company. And he’s not just under a “ boutique label.” Malachiae is connected to the same brand that helped turn Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson into global icons.

“To be in the midst of those artists is definitely great. That means they see something in me, and not just for the moment,” states Malachiae about being signed to the legendary Motown. “All those artists on the label have had great careers. I just one to bring that to the table too, and let them know I want to be here for the long run.”

Warren’s campaign to possibly join other members of Motown’s roster in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could one day be traced back to his 8-track effort The Ride Out EP. The collection hit the internet in July, and it features an integration of his signature “ghetto smooth” sound, his love for Atlanta, and his respect for rap greats.

Track 3 on The Ride Out quotes T.I.’s 2003 breakout hit “24’s,” and Malachiae’s single “R U Down” samples 2Pac’s Top 20 record “I Get Around.” As Warren reaches back to honor some of the artists he grew up listening to, the crooner is simultaneously introducing his peers and fans to classic records from Hip Hop headliners like Tip and Pac.

“What’s so crazy is my generation sometimes skips over [the references]. They’re like, ‘I love the new song.’ They don’t know I referenced it from other artists,” explains Malachiae. “Some people catch ‘24’s.’ But a lot of people my age didn’t really get it.”

Warren is not even old enough to legally drink yet, but he is already setting forth a path to have future artists interpolating his music two decades from now. Even though he views having a major label behind him as a bonus, every piece of art presented to the public is cultivated in the mind of Malachiae.

“I was 100% involved. Every song that I do I have creative control,” says Malachiae. “I like to make music that comes from what I go through and experience. It wouldn’t be fair not to play a part in writing my music or producing it, because it has to come from me. I feel like that’s the music that people listen to longevity wise.”

He adds, “A lot of people think once you get signed, you’re going to blow up and become this huge superstar. But in most cases that doesn’t happen. Everybody that you see out right now has been through the grind process. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work hard and be self-motivated.”

Malachiae’s next project set to drop is an EP titled Heard You Was In My City, and a full length studio album is scheduled for the top of 2016. As his profile continues to grow, the media microscope will begin to focus on Malachiae Warren, which means he will be in a position to influence the young people that follow him. The “Thank Yo Momma” singer does not take that responsibility lightly.

“I make sure I go about things the right way. I make sure my attitude comes off in a positive way and through my music of course. Especially for our generation. I feel we’re so influenced by the music,” maintains Malachiae. “I feel like we need more love and positivity. All we hear nowadays is the club stuff. A lot of that is cool. I’m still young, and I still have my fun. But at the end of the day, people want to be inspired.”

[ALSO READ: #ATLRiseUp: Jarren Benton Is Turning Up The Volume On The Other Side Of Atlanta’s Sound]

M.W. In The Lab
M.W. In The Lab

Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #ATLRiseUp series here.

Follow Malachiae Warren on Twitter @Malachiae and Instagram @malachiae.

Stream/download Malachiae Warren’s The Ride Out EP below.