INTERVIEW: Malik Burgers, San Diego's Homecoming Hero
Forward by Andy Internets. Interview by Mondi.
In February 2014, I received a message from our websites old contact form. It read:
"Hi. I checked out the Warehouse Takeover last night and it was mad real. The vibe was great and the music was nice. I would be interested in having my team and I perform at any upcoming events. Hit me back. -Malik."
Within two years, the same kid who sent the message, and his team, were racking over tens of millions of plays on YouTube and Soundcloud and touring the world as part of the renowned San Diego collective, 1207. The sender, obviously, Malik Burgers.
Since before the quick burst into stardom, however, Malik Burgers has always presented himself as a fully-formed artist, stoic and wise beyond his years. At well over six feet, he’s a towering presence in person, and his way of speaking is always kept collected and smooth. In his music, his raps and production-style reflect it.
Inarguably one of the most versatile and eclectic music artists out of San Diego, Burgers has since catapulted himself as a stand-alone figure capable of taking on all trades and excelling at each of them. Whereas the pressure of stardom may often eclipse those incapable of escaping the periphery, Burgers took the attention like a challenge and worked even harder. The work produced gave us Malik Burgers the rapper, Sam Sega the DJ, and Lick Mob the brand, among many other things.
Of course, the work still hasn’t ended. Just in the past year, the 21 year-old talent could often be seen in-front of the camera in Instagram livestreams, posed proper while teaching himself to play chords on a keyboard. Within months, a magnificently shot music video of the artist surfaces with him playing grand piano keys and rapping along without missing a beat. In Malik’s world, every action is a testament to his ever-growing talent.
Now on his first headlining tour, and making his homecoming San Diego stop at SOMA in just a matter of days with MOBxCG, Acetakesmillions and Sustivity, our field correspondent God Body Mondi got the chance to talk to the young rapper and catch up on how the road has been, life back at home, and overriding the pressures of success. Tune in and read below.
Mondi: How’s tour been?
Malik Burgers: Tour’s been solid. Been a good learning experience. This was my first time setting up my own shows like this
M: What is this like your third tour?
MB: My fourth. Second with my own set. First headlining.
M: Damn, you’re not even 21 yet, right?
MB: I turned 21 in June.
M: Four tours under your belt by 21, that’s crazy. From what I understand, you put your own headlining tour together yourself, how was that?
MB: Haha hella, people still don’t even understand why I feel the way I feel about certain shit. It was cool, though, it all went smooth. It took years of genuine networking and making relationships to be able to put together a DIY tour route. By far a personal milestone.
M: Can you explain what you mean by people not understanding how you feel about certain thing?
MB: Like me already being on the road this much by 21. People out here—mostly from home—try to treat me like they’re putting me on to something or helping me out. But in reality, I could teach people some things if they’re willing to listen to someone a few years younger. A lot of the time they’re not willing to listen, though.
M: I see. Is this what your recent frustrations have stemmed from? I’ve see you a little more agitated on the socials recently.
MB: I’ve been frustrated for a while, but just kept it pushing and continued to work on myself and my team. Now I’m just calling everything and everyone on their bullshit. I remember every time someone tried to play me, or kept me under the radar, knowing I deserved more.
M: Honestly, just sounds like people are scared. I assume people see you as a threat. You rap, produce, design, DJ and now booking your own tour. I just find it odd that we can’t all celebrate that. It seems like people are quick to tear each other down for nothing.
MB: That’s the realist shit bro, that’s exactly how I feel it is. A year ago, I just felt like I couldn’t be all trying to air everything out online—just because no one owes me anything. I just had to not need them, and that’s been my motive. At the end of the day, I really help compliment the city. Whoever doesn’t agree, we can argue it.
M: What do you think it is about people at home that makes them want to tear each other down? Of course, there’s no problem with competition, but people in San Diego seem to just wanna see you fail if they can’t join the ride.
MB:I don’t think it’s that anyone wants to see anyone fail, I think it’s just that people want to be the top motherfucker in the city. So at any given chance, they’ll put themselves or their group in a higher position, instead of post or share or give any type of hometown support. Everyone wants to be so ‘for the city,’ but that’s all cap.
M: Yeah that makes sense. Another big thing I notice is people’s sense of entitlement, almost of as if people don’t wanna put in the work yet want to receive the same praise or admiration as others. How important do you think it is to lose that “I wanna be the one to put the city on” mentality for us to progress?
MB: Man that shit is dead bro, niggas gotta stop that dumb shit. To put the city on you gotta be on. Niggas tryna put the city on to the city—to the same motherfuckers at every show; to the same motherfuckers that follow each other on socials. No sense of growth, just working in circles, in my opinion.
M: I feel it. Has touring opened your eyes more to this or made you more aware?
MB: I think just traveling and seeing new things hve opened my eyes. People work differently in different places.
M: Did growing up in Lemon Grove and the punk scene out there push you to be more DIY? In hip hop, the term and concept of DIY doesn’t really get tossed around a lot as it should be.
MB: Yes fully. I was going to the punk shows in Lemon Grove before I was even rapping, before I was even going to hip hop shows honestly. I didn’t know rap was different, I just thought that was how it was supposed to be.
M: Why do you think more people don’t follow that do-it-yourself ethos in rap?
MB: I don’t know. It might just seem a little quicker. People spend time doing that, and when the time comes, they’re tryna play catch up cause they got where they wanted to be, but weren’t working or establishing anything solid. If you’re building it up yourself, you’re working along the way of getting to where you wanna be, and when you get there, it’s gonna be hard to come back.
M: In your particular situation, being apart of 1207 and witnessing the rise of “Chill Bill,” I feel like most people would just sit back and expect Rob $tone to put them on, but I feel like the opposite happened with you. You just started working even harder. How important was it to establish Lick Mob and your own identity, and not just get caught up in that whole moment?
MB: That’s real. I just knew i had to have my own identity, period. I grew up on Odd Future and I genuinely fucked with all of them, but seeing how everyone couldn’t fully establish their own identity was the worst part. I never wanted that to be us. Even if that was the case, I at least wanted to have something of my own, something where I can feed all my ideas into and still be able to have people perceive it as its own and not a stem from this or that.
M: Did you feel any pressure being around the success of “Chill Bill” and trying to make something on your own?
MB: Not at all. I saw it as an opportunity to sit back and learn.
M: How has being around Rob helped in your progress as artist?
MB: He showed me how important it is to keep a work ethic even with everything going on and moving around a lot. Making music is gonna keep you able to move around, and you just get better every time.
M: Do you ever feel like you have too much on your plate? Not a lot of people are rapping, producing, DJing etc., let alone at such a highly productive level.
MB: Everything I do really serves one purpose.
M: Is there something else you’re tryna get into or become better at this year?
MB: I just wanna keep growing, keep creating. Seeing what else is possible for me. Getting whatever I put my mind to.