Some say that big things come in small packages, and while it’s certainly not true for your disappointingly below average hookup last weekend, the adage finds truth in the pint-sized body of Maliibu Miitch. Standing at just five feet tall, the rapper from the South Bronx has made a name for herself thanks to her larger-than-life persona and bars as hot as a five-alarm fire—seriously.
That the 26-year-old rapper has already become a fixture in New York’s music scene is no fluke. She’s steeped her music in a thick mix of ’90s rap and hip-hop and warped it into a sound that’s as conflicting as her stage name. “I just randomly thought of it,” she explained. “Mitch came from [the movie] Paid in Full. So, Mekhi Phifer’s character is named Mitch and Malibu I just got it from playing around one day.”
It’s an explanation that mirrors the rapper’s own, often hilariously blasé personality, one that is shining at full wattage when I meet her in a dimly lit, downstairs dressing room in the West Village’s Sound of Brazil music venue. As staff hurry to set up fans in the one room devoid of A/C, the rapper responsible for our late night MTA anthem “4 AM” is focused on applying makeup and slipping into her outfit. As the crowd pours into SoB’s for Hot 97’s Who’s Next series, Maliibu seems to radiate sun like the city she’s named after (and yes, she’s visited there) despite being in a musty side room in the basement.
Later in the night, Miitch would make her way to the stage to slay with a performance of some of her recent hits, but before she dropped her fiery bars, we caught up with the singer as she talked about smoking fingers, her rebellious and fast paced 7th grade lifestyle, the joys of being a Pisces, and more.
So, you have tons of tattoos. What’s your most recent one?
I got a tattoo of my face on my hand.
Why your face?
After Steve-O! When he got his back tattoo of his face, I thought that was mad cool and wanted to do that. Somebody actually drew this on Instagram for me, some random artist did it. I was like, you know what? I’m just going to put it on me.
What’s one of your favorite tattoos?
I have “add blunt” on my hand because these are my smoking fingers.
That’s great. You also have the full sleeve here as a tribute to your dad.
Yeah, it’s just all Asian-themed because my dad was adopted from Vietnam, and that’s a side of me I’m never going to really know, so I wanted to put all of these tattoos on my arm.
Where is your mom from?
North Carolina! So, my mom’s black and my dad is Vietnamese and Filipino.
Would you get a tattoo inspired by North Carolina?
No, no I wouldn’t. Wouldn’t go that far! It’s funny because I was living out there for three years and then came back. I got into some trouble in New York so my mom sent me down south, but I definitely wouldn’t get a North Carolina tattoo.
You got into trouble when you were younger?
Yeah, I was doing so much. I was in 7th grade smoking weed, fighting, [and] breaking into schools. But I turned my life around!
In some of your videos, you’ve got a continuous story going. Would you ever want to do a concept album with a full storyline?
Actually, that’s what I want to do on my first actual project. Maliibu is the softer, fun, and bubbly side of me, and Miitch is the gritty, South Bronx side of me. I want to make it look like I’m fighting against myself, you know? Some songs will be pretty and other songs will be hood as hell and ratchet as hell.
Definitely. What was it like growing up in the South Bronx?
It was fun! There were cookouts and block parties all the time. We used to open up the hydrant and the water would spill out—imagine being young and growing up like that. It was fun, but of course you have your bad times, too. Going outside comes with trouble. It was an experience.
You still live in the South Bronx, too. Do you have plans to leave?
Yeah, I do. I want an office in the Bronx on 161 Yankee Stadium. I need my office there. I’m trying to run for mayor of the Bronx one day!
You’ve talked about politics in your music before, but would you ever do a song about the president?
I would never give him that much clout. I would never ever, ever, ever.
You’re very heavily influenced by the ’90s. Do you have a favorite trend from the ’90s you want to bring back?
Being naturally yourself because I think that’s what the ’90s was all about. Everyone was just naturally being themselves. Embrace yourself.
You’re a Pisces. Does that influence you at all or do you not pay attention to all that?
Yes, I’m totally into signs, I’m a spiritual person. I look up all the stuff like that and I go off of vibes. So, yeah I’m a Pisces. We’re hard workers but I can be lazy here and there. I’m mad creative. Rihanna is a Pisces!
You’re still dating Chase Money Marz. Are you ever going to release music together?
We’re going to drop a song very, very soon called “Facts.” It’s going to be fun!
Is that your newest track you’ll have come out?
No, I’ve got another one called “Guacamole,” but I’m balancing that and one called “Real Love.” See, I first told you that so you’re the only one who knows that. So, either one of those will be the next single.
Perfect! So, I’ve got to ask. Do you like guacamole?
I actually don’t! It’s so disgusting! It’s my favorite color—green—but I can’t stand looking at it or putting it in my mouth. I’ll try it though, one time only.
For more of our interviews, take a look at our chat with rising grime star Novelist right here.
- Interview: Chris Thomas
- Cover Image: Douglas Segars
- Live Shots: Sharisse Daley