You probably won’t make it a minute into album opener “Outcast” by the time you realise that this album feels like an event. Don Malaa, the debut album from anonymous French producer Malaa, feels big in every way. From the guestlist to the booming production, this album doesn’t do anything by halves, and “Outcast” is the perfect example of this.
The balaclava-clad Parisian recruits New York sensation Fivio Foreign for a boisterous feature over an equally stomping instrumental. Malaa takes Fivio’s NY drill sensibilities, morphing and stretching it over a woozy house beat whilst it builds and builds into a gritty and driving breakdown.
The album doesn’t let up from there. It takes you by the collar and pulls you into the Malaa thrill ride. “Hypnotic” is just that, an entrancing club floor filler whose rhythms and bubbling tension draw from classic house tunes.
“Deep,” which features DJ Snake and Yung Felix, continues in this vein. Malaa and DJ Snake are a tried and true tag team of EDM heavy hitters and “Deep” is almost a victory lap, showcasing what two masters can produce on the same wavelength. Add in Dutch trap maestro Yung Felix and you have a blend that would set any dancefloor alight. Whilst the trio of artists don’t reinvent the wheel here, the track is an impeccably crafted piece of work showcasing the very best of modern house. That it already has over a million plays on Spotify is a testament to this.
DJ Snake is far from the only iconic presence on this album though. Ghostface Killah helps to close out the album with “Die Hard”, a track that blends Malaa’s electronic influences with some classic hip-hop. Not to mention some immaculate turntabling from A-track. Another New York idol Jadakiss also shows up to intro the frenetic “No Panic”.
Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t a collab album, the features each add their own dimensions to the Frenchman’s mercurial soundscapes, but when he’s alone on the track he flourishes whilst showing off his virtuosic production. The frenzied energy of “Gangsta” feels like it could have already been in any club’s rotation whilst “True Friends” starts with the most soulful of samples, before shifting into what could easily be a classic piece of Detroit house.
What’s clear is that Malaa isn’t just drawing inspiration from these differing genres, sounds, and time periods, but paying reverence to them and their foundations. House, electronic, classic hip-hop, and more all play a part in the sounds on the album, and all are repaid with Malaa’s contribution to them.
It would be easy to forget that is Malaa’s debut full-length effort given that he has been a mainstay on the touring circuit for a number of years. On his first foray into the art of crafting a full-length project he shows those out of the loop just what everyone else already knew, Malaa isn’t just a Don, he’s a star.
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