A Minute With Mainstream: Malik "Leek" Inniss
If the music industry has taught me anything, its the fact that not everyone is cut out for this business. Through good times and bad, it's about your resolve that will get you to the upper echelon of entertainment. It's the ambition of a ridah mentality. Someone who embodies that, and has literally become of the most ambitious people I know, not only became a good friend, but also my right hand during the tough times. A man whose seen the good and the bad of the business. Malik Inniss.
Mainstream: Malik aka Leek da Freak as coined by Lay Lay, what's good bro? Thanks for doing this Minute With Mainstream
Leek: Anytime my brother. What's going on? You know what's funny? I have like 3 nicknames. I have to add that to the list (laughs)
(Laughs) Same ol' man as always we've worked hard for our name. But for those who don't know how did you get into the business and earn your name?
|Leek and Memphis Bleek|
That's no easy feat. I remember coming up, it was a lot of self-promotion, self grind, hell.. even being in the right place at the right time. When was your moment that you realize "shit, I am in the right place right now and I could do something with this?"
Yeah, it was all that for me everything had to be earned. Well years ago, I was working with probably the biggest underground promoter in NYC. I was one of the core group of main promoters/hosts that she had at the time. I was young, hungry, and full of ambition. I had all these ideas for the team and I brought to her and I said before I fully commit to this. I'm one of your best, I want to be your partner and let's change the game. Her exact words were, "Malik, you're a good promoter, but you aren't ready to be a boss if I am being honest. I put you in these positions (and) you haven't earned it and I don't know if you'll be more than you are now". After that conversation, I left that team and I learned not too long after that she was taking money from her promoter. And that wasn't easy for me. That team did a lot of great work and had the potential to do even more.
Wow, so you learned from early in the game how ugly this business can be. But it wasn't always bad. When was the moment you felt at least, "Shit I can do this forever"? Or maybe at least till your sitting on stacks (laughs)
It was probably right after that because I realized how much money I could make and now that I could do it my own way I wouldn't have anything holding me back. So me and one of the other promoters who worked with her, a guy who you know named Zeke Jaye, started A.R.T. Entertainment. He was an artist with a vision and I was a promoter with a vision so we started off.
Similar to myself and DJ Mastermind, same team same dream kinda scenario which is dope. The great part is that same vision you and Zeke had that lead you both to WVMR New York and having one of our early top-rated shows, Live In Da ART House. But you added a comedic and realist dynamic to the show. Where did that timing come from?
Umm, to be honest, that’s something my uncle taught me. We always traded jokes back and forth but at the same time, he taught me when to be serious. He opened my eyes to a lot that I still see to this day. I’m the type of person that believes you should try to spend the majority of your life laughing and happy, which is why people tell me I ‘see everything as a joke’ which isn’t the case. The things that most people take serious I just don’t.
See I can understand that because most say I take things too serious which kinda balance both of us as you made your way to Voiceless Music. But before that you had a falling out with ART Entertainment and even was apart of a brand known as Third Eye taking more of a leadership role. What was, if any, the challenge between being part of to leading at that point?
Well here’s the thing, with ART I was a leader. But I found myself in another restricted role. And the way that man… I was in a dark place as far as being an entrepreneur. I guess you can say I was over it at that point. But then I met Carlyne St. Jules, someone I will always be thankful for being in my life because she brought this fire back out of me I haven't felt in a long time. And my role in 3rd Eye Nation really taught me how to move from player to coach. It was rough at times because I was always learning how to lead but that time really showed me how it felt to be an effective leader. An impactful leader. A role I thrive in.
Lessons learned can easily be turned into guides for the future. But even that position with 3rd Eye didn’t work to your liking. Were there any differences there or you just wanted more?
None (of the above). Carlyne just had some personal things she had to take care of which allowed me to work on and even put into action my own event. “The Ambition of a Hustler”, a showcase I organized, booked talented for, hosted, and provided catering for. And I sold out the venue. It’s something I had to prove to myself.
The result was you could do this and you can carry a brand on your own which now places you with Voiceless Music. Which you never told me, what was the feeling when me and you spoke about coming to VM? And did you have options to go elsewhere?
Well you know I had a few different options. After the showcase, my phone was blowing up (laughs) but I wanted to be apart of something I knew would never go away… something I could bring to another level and most importantly I wanted the right team behind me that when I made the decision they would understand it'd be for the group's benefit. You know how I like to do things sold me on VM.
I didn’t sell you on anything you already seen me do (laughs) but the good part is we both have the same focus: the betterment of the world as entrepreneurs and it was that focus the lead you back on the radio and being a part of the leading radio show, Zoo Tuesday’s. How was that experience?
Man, I’ll always love Zoo Tuesdays. That came at a time where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be on the radio as a full-time career. But you told me to just come sit in on a show. I came and Smiley asked me to jump on the mic, and me, her, Lay Lay and 3G… our chemistry was instant. You would’ve thought we was on air for years together. I fell in love with radio doing that show. And I have to credit that show for giving me my most “noteworthy” moment (laughs), I guess that’s; what you would call it in this business, so far.
And I will forever be in debt to that show. You 4 made me love radio again and I took great pleasure in being your engineer. But now fast forward, and I want to get personal for a bit because WVMR was a different experience for everyone. How did you feel when the doors closed on the station?
Well, I went through a lot of different emotions when all that went down. The majority of it was anger. And disappointment. Because it felt like something was being taken from us that we worked hard to build. You remember how angry and recklessly I was acting around the time. It wasn’t the best mental state I was in. I wanted revenge if I’m being honest.
Me and you both. Deep depression. Separation. I resented myself for a while for letting things happen, however, with a lot of support from family and friends especially my wife I’ve learned to let go. But use motivation to come back twice as big and be utterly relentless and not let up. Which seems to be your same directions I hear you are taking leadership with your Misfit Mob brand. What’s the direction with that?
Well, my brand Misfit Mob Media… it’s me and a few individuals that see things that are lacking in this game and we want to fix it. I’ll be running my own show but right now I’m working on getting back on the radio and I’ll drop a little bomb on you (laughs) I’m leaving NYC for a short term move. I’ll be living and working out of Baltimore with my DJ G The Prince aka Prince G.
Nice! You two have always had a great connection so I am sure building in another city for a while not only help, Voiceless Music, which of course I am proud of but of course MMM and making sure you can grow out of this city. As we wrap up, I always meant to ask, and I am sure others are curious about a few things with you. One, why does HOT 97 and some of the major NYC-based artists not like you?
Well (laughs) I’ll say this about the artists in NYC... New York City is my city, born and raised. I fell in love with Hip Hop in NYC (from the) first time I heard “Rock The Bells”. I hold artists, especially when they're from New York City to a higher standard. And Like I previously stated I’m brutally honest. If you ask me to review your music and I think it’s trash I’m gonna tell you. Now Hot 97 (laughs) here’s the thing: I use to be a huge fan of the station and the moments in Hip Hop that it’s brought us. BUT… they have been giving us lackluster content and lackluster shows for the last couple of years. And just because you’ve done great things in the past doesn’t mean you get a pass on the BS you serve us today. Another reason they don’t like me is because I went on a very public rant live on air which ultimately lead to them telling me I “couldn’t attend” Summerjam this year. The funny thing is I have good friends over there: Hip Hop Mike, DJ Young Chow, DJ Wallah. I’ve worked with all of them and will continue to.
Good shit. As we end this, I’ve announced VM New York and we’ve been pushing to the future of VMNY and Voiceless Music. What’s one thing you hope happens in the near future for the brands or even your brand?
Just growth and expansion, I want us to be the catalyst for change in this industry and give it the kick in the ass it needs
Same here bro same here. Thanks for your time and let's get to work.
Anytime my brother.
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