A Conversation With Malik Yusef On Kanye’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’ & Common’s Upcoming Album


(AllHipHop Features) I had the chance to speak with noted spoken word artist Malik Yusef. After discussing his contribution to musical work by Vic Mensa, Beyoncé, and Kanye West in the first part of our conversation, the second installment has Yusef speaking further about Ye’s The Life Of Pablo.

The product of Chicago’s South Side also gave some insight into the follow-up to Common’s 2014 LP Nobody’s Smiling. Yusef shares his views on his hometown’s current Hip Hop wave as well.

[ALSO READ: A Conversation With Malik Yusef On Supporting LGBT Rights And Working With Vic Mensa, Beyonce & Kanye West]

You worked with Kanye on his latest album. One of the things I like about Kanye – and what I think a lot of people appreciate – is that he reinvents his sound with every album. At what point in the creative process was the decision made that you’re going to go in this gospel inspired direction?

I think we’re always trying to get to that gospel feel. Kanye’s relationship with Kirk Franklin helped pushed that. Fonzworth Bentley, who’s super-duper Christian – they all have that Christian feel, sound, and desire. I think that had a lot to do with it.

I just came at and made it more hood. What do I bring to everything? I just bring hood sh-t. I’ve been on the street, gang banging since I was 12 years old. Everything I try to get to is hood.

I’m a poet. I got homies that ain’t never seen me perform in their life. When I first started doing poetry, n-ggas thought I was gay. They were like, “What happened to make you turn gay?” That’s what was said to me by my OGs. Like, “What did we do wrong that we didn’t save you from turning gay?”

I don’t know if you saw this, but Boosie did an interview where he said he believes TV is making kids gay.

I’m not a scientist, but I do think that you can become gay. Some of my friends that are gay think that you are born that way. Some of them think that it’s a choice. I think the gay community itself is polarized about the same thing.

When people go to prison and have love affairs with somebody of the same sex, is every criminal gay? That’s a big indictment right there. I don’t know if we want to go down that path – that everybody that has committed a crime and incarcerated is gay. I don’t think that makes sense to me.

We don’t have enough scientific evidence right now to understand what it is, but there has been a huge proliferation of people living a homosexual lifestyle. Maybe because we have more freedoms, but definitely some chemicals are involved.

Can you turn gay? I believe yeah because I don’t believe everybody that went to prison or every criminal just happens to have a predisposition to crime and to homosexuality. That’s a huge indictment. I don’t think we want to start going down that path – that every bad person, killer is also a homosexual.

That gets scary. That sounds like Nazi Germany, exterminate this group of people before they do a crime type sh-t. I want to be very careful in that area.

Some of my close friends that are gay say yes you can turn gay, it’s a choice. Some say, “I was born this way.” I don’t think either one is wrong or right. It’s what they feel. I can’t pass judgment from being Malik Yusef. All I know is that I’m not gay or feel the need to be gay.

Going back to Kanye’s album. Another thing that I found interesting is that he continues to tweak the album. He’s called it this “living expression.” Do you see that becoming the norm in the future?

It’s the norm for me because I’ve been doing it with G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night for five or six years. If you look through all of those, you’ll see different versions of G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night.

I’ve definitely been doing it. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I’m surprised that a mainstream artist like Kanye did it. I’m more like the independent artist, the underground guy.

Are you working on another version?

Yeah, I think this is the fourth version of G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night.

What about the Cruel Winter album?

We’re working on it now.

Do you expect that it will be out before the end of the year?

I have no expectations on release dates anymore. I learned my lesson on that with Yeezus.

So you have the Cruel Winter album and a fourth version of G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night. Do you have anything else in the works?

Yeah, Vic’s project obviously. I’m also working with The Band Perry right now. They left Big Machine, and now they’re at Interscope.

What about another project from Common?

Common is coming right now. He’s almost finished. It’s crazy. Common is a superstar now, so he can get away with anything. But he’s still making the best music. He’s a superstar. When you become that, you can get away with way more sh-t. He’s still like, ‘I’m not going to cheat my way through it though.”

It’s still kind of weird. I grew up listening to “rapper” Common, and now he’s “Academy Award winner” Common. That’s kind of crazy. [laughs]

That’s how I feel too. When we go to dinner, and people say, “Oh, Common’s here. Let Common sit right here.” He’s a b-boy for real, and I feel like they don’t even know that part of Common.  

He’s the Grammy award winner, Oscar award winner. He’s that guy now. To me he’s still Common but also that guy. I feel like it’s a weird thing to see your friend be such a superstar. You know that’s not who he really is, but he’s kind of forced to be a superstar.

I really love what the Chicago movement is doing right now. You can look at the legends like Kanye and Common, but then you also have Vic, Chance [The Rapper], and even G Herbo. The city seems to be in a really good creative space.

It is. I’m more excited about Chicago music than I have ever been. I see it as this real industry now, not just a bunch of guys that rap here or there.

[ALSO READ: Malik Yusef Brings Back G.O.O.D. Fridays With New Mixtape]

Purchase Malik Yusef’s music on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

Follow Malik Yusef on Twitter @malikyusef  and Instagram @malikyusef100.

Stream/download Malik Yusef’s G.O.O.D. Morning G.O.O.D. Night: The Lequel below.