Malique Ibrahim (born August 21, 1977), is a Malaysian rapper, record producer, lyricist and composer. In addition to his solo career, Malique is one half of the hip hop duo Too Phat. Malique is one of Malaysia's best-selling music artists. Including his work with Too Phat, Malique has achieved six AIM winning albums, twelve AIM awards and 14 chart singles. As a solo artiste and producer, Malique's songs have sold over 5.4 million digital units cumulatively (as of December 2015).
LIFE AND CAREER
1977–98: EARLY LIFE AND BEGINNINGS
Malique was born on August 21, 1977 at Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He is the youngest of three children of Ibrahim Abdullah and Asmah Mohamed. Malique is of Malay, Thai and Arab descent. His father Ibrahim worked as an English teacher with MRSM. Malique's older brother and sister work in finance and law.
Malique spent his first few formative years living in the United States while his father furthered his studies in the field of Linguistics.
Upon the family's return to Malaysia, Malique attended SRK Ismail (1) in Muar, Johor. He was then offered a place in an SBP (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh) school. Malique attended secondary school at Sekolah Alam Shah in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur from 1990 to 1992, then was offered a place in MRSM Taiping's elite Special Education Program (Malay: PKP, or Program Khas Pendidikan). Malique graduated from MRSM Taiping in 1994.
As a child, Malique demonstrated talent in storytelling and essay writing and won writing competitions. In primary school, his essays were so well written that he was accused of plagiarism, and was called before a panel of teachers. His work was then proven to be authentic. Malique's interest in music and hip hop began in his teens, while listening to LL Cool J's Walking With a Panther LP, a gift from his family. He then moved to Kuala Lumpur to further his A Levels at Maktab Sains MARA, Cheras. Following that, he met Joe Flizzow and moved to Subang Jaya. During this time, Malique and Joe began performing as a group at underground gigs, pursuing the group's musical potential in what would soon be known as Too Phat.
1998–06: EARLY CAREER, TOO PHAT
On March 28th 1998, Too Phat performed their first gig at Malibu Cafe, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Soon they were offered recording deals from Ahmad Izham Omar at Positive Tone and also Strange Culture Records. Due to their "underground" mentality, the group chose to sign with the more indie Strange Culture Records and released two demos. The demos did not do well, and in 2000 Too Phat switched over to Positive Tone. Under Positive Tone, Ahmad Izham Omar gave Too Phat complete creative freedom and liberty to do as they wished, and production for Whutthadilly? began. Recording at Platinum Studios which shared the same building as Positive Tone was the first real studio experience for Too Phat. Whutthadilly? was released in 2000, launching the biggest hip hop act in South East Asia at the time.
2006-07: HIATUS & PRODUCTION OF 'OK'
After three successful albums, Too Phat released their last album together; Rebirth to Reality. Malique's last public performance was an opening by Too Phat for Kanye West in 2007. Immediately after, he took a hiatus from 2007 to 2008 to focus on the writing and production of his solo album OK.
OK (released in 2008) would be independently produced, and the first LP after his release from EMI Music. Malique made his co-producer D'Navigator a partner in his brand new recording label Qarma Musiq. D'Navigator was also musical arranger for almost all the songs in the album OK. The album took a year and a half to produce, including the inlay and cover artwork which Malique directed himself.
In order to fund the production of the album, Malique printed CD's with two unmastered songs; Assalamualaikum featuring Adeep Nahar and OK featuring Cat (Farish) Fabuloso. He then sold the CD's by hand with nothing but his signature on the cover. The CD's were purchased mostly by acquaintances in the hip hop community and music industry as well as a handful of fans as a show of support.
The final product was a 20 song double disc album, with 15 songs in Malay. However, the majority of listeners still wanted Too Phat and were doubtful about Malique's potential as a solo artiste rapping in Bahasa Melayu. As a result, he had difficulty marketing his album. Many major record stores refused to distribute OK, convinced that it would not sell unless it was a Too Phat album. Malique then approached small independent record shops, and decided to launch his album from The Super Sunday Store; an indie music and apparel store located near Sungei Wang Plaza. At the end of the launch day, only six albums were sold.
To coincide with the launch, Malique released a single from the album called Mantera Beradu featuring composer and folk singer Datuk M. Nasir. Mantera Beradu went straight to radio charts in Malaysia, topping it for three consecutive months. After the success of Mantera Beradu, Malique was approached by Warner Music Malaysia and offered a distribution deal, which he accepted, and which was to become a long-term partnership. Distributed by Warner Music, OK was placed at all major record stores and finally available to the masses. Ahmad Izham Omar, former executive of Positive Tone, reviewed the album and said "OKis one of those albums that have managed to combine superb artistry with a deliberate and focused mass appeal. And that's not easy to do."
"'OK' the album is like a buffet of insights and stories." - Trix, of Dose Two.
"OK is definitely better than OK. It is both seminal and a must have." - Emceedavid
The album OK also introduced several new singers including Najwa Mahiaddin in Kau Yang Punya, Chi Qa in VVS1 and Elvira in Pergi Jauh. The single Mantera Beradu has sold over 1.2 million in digital units to date. Kau Yang Punya, a remake of The Roots song You Got Me, did well in Indonesia, making it to the top 10 on radio charts.
Two thousand physical copies of OK were sold and the album was never reprinted, turning existing copies into much sought after collector's items. OK also won best Hip Hop Album, Best Hip Hop Song (Mantera Beradu) and Best English Song (KL Streets) at the 2009 AIM awards, in which Malique was also nominated for Best New Artiste.
2009–10: K.O THE MIXTAPE
In early 2008 Malique was approached by old acquaintance DJ Fuzz of Teh Tarik Crew and Bum Squad DJ's and the meeting led to the production of a mixtape titled K.O The Mixtape. Co-produced by DJ Fuzz and Malique and distributed under Warner Music, K.Ocomprised of 19 songs, mostly remixed versions of songs from Malique's OK album. The first single to be released from K.O The Mixtape was Cerita Kedai Kopi featuring Salam. Cerita Kedai Kopi was a remix of Malique’s existing song Rahsia. The song followed in the footsteps of Mantera Beradu, remaining in the charts for nearly half a year. K.O The Mixtape won Best Hip Hop Album, and Cerita Kedai Kopi won best Hip Hop song at the 2010 Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) awards, earning DJ Fuzz his first two AIM accolades and Malique his tenth and eleventh awards. Two thousand physical copies of K.O The Mixtape were sold and again, no reprints were made.
2010–PRESENT: TKO (RELEASED 2016)
In 2010 Malique began production on the final album in his trilogy of releases, titled TKO with several completed singles released throughout 2010 to 2012. The first was the double launch of Senyum and Perang Dah Tamat. Senyum was Malique's second collaboration with Najwa Mahiaddin after Kau Yang Punya (2008), a song he tributes to his wife and eldest daughter. Perang Dah Tamat is a pro-peace anthem featuring nasyid group Rabbani. Senyum outdid Perang Dah Tamat, earning a top five spot on radio charts for four months. Soon after the release of Senyum, Malique's co-producer and longtime business partner D'Navigator decided to pursue his own business venture, and the two parted ways on good terms.
Having earned the music industry's attention as a producer, Malique was then commissioned by third parties to produce songs. He partnered with Tripdisz as his new music arranger and co-producer. The first was a song for singer Amanda Imani titled Cemburu, in which Malique was featured. This was followed by satellite media network Astro who wanted a soundtrack for their TV series Jangan Ambil Padang Kami, the song produced was titled Bangun Harimau Bangun. Soon after, a government agency commissioned Malique and Cat Farish (of the Fabulous Cats) to produce a remake of the 1990's propaganda song Setia.
In 2011 Malique was also approached by comedian, actor and TV presenter Zizan Razak who was interested in his demo for Bawaku Pergi, which was previously commissioned for rock singer Ella. Bawaku Pergi was released under Qarma Musiq and sung by Zizan and Kaka Azraff. The song never made it to the charts, as it's lyrics were misinterpreted by the Ministry of Culture who called for the song to be banned. Despite the little to no airplay, Bawaku Pergi still managed to generate a substantial amount of digital sales and the official video has over 8.3 million views on YouTube (as of January 2016).
At the end of 2011 Malique released Aku Maafkan Kamu featuring legendary pop singer Datuk Jamal Abdillah. The song was again top three on the radio charts for four months and earned over 3.2 million views on YouTube before the release of Teman Pengganti, a duet performed by Malique and Black Hanifah of reality TV show Mentor. The song was commissioned by Monkey Bone Records, and written, produced and performed by Malique. Teman Pengganti topped the charts for an unprecedented six months and remained on most charts for nearly a year.
Black performed Teman Pengganti at the 2011 Anugerah Juara Lagu. Malique was absent during the performance and replaced by newcomer RJ and the song won an award for Best Performance. Teman Pengganti and Aku Maafkan Kamu were both nominated in the same category for Best Hip Hop Song at the 2011 AIM awards. The award went to Aku Maafkan Kamu, making it Tripdisz's first AIM award and Malique's twelfth. Malique and Black Hanifah also won the Flava Award at the 2012 Shout! Awards for their work on Teman Pengganti.
In 2008 after the success of Mantera Beradu, Malique realized the need for making his music more widely available and entered a non-exclusive distribution deal with Warner Music Malaysia. To date, Warner Music Malaysia has successfully marketed most of his best selling singles including Mantera Beradu, Cerita Kedai Kopi, Senyum, Aku Maafkan Kamu, Bawaku Pergi and Teman Pengganti. In 2009 Malique expanded by signing under Sony Music Malaysia in a similar non-exclusive distribution deal. Under both labels, Malique managed to market both popular singles and lesser known cult favorites such as Salut featuring his protegè Ariz.
For a short time between 2009 and 2010, Malique began giving rap classes under a workshop called the Qarma Musiq Rap School. Apart from coaching aspiring rappers about the art of rhyming and flow, he also dispensed invaluable advice about how to market a demo and how the recording process worked. Students would finish the workshop with a demo in hand, recorded and overseen by Malique. The purpose of the rap school was to produce quality rap writing, which Malique felt was short in supply. The rap school is no longer running. Amongst his students was Ariz whom Malique found to be most promising. Upon completion of the workshop, Malique signed Ariz as the label's second recording artiste. During his two years with Malique, Ariz released two singles; Bukan Untukumu featuring Kat of Mentor, and Yang Terbaik Dari Ladang featuring actress Liyana Jasmay and Malique. Both songs were composed and produced by Malique, while Ariz wrote his own verses. Malique also featured Ariz in his single Salut. In 2010, Ariz decided to pursue a career in a different field and was amicably released from his contract.
Malique is known for his elegant lyrics and flow. His words are often meaningful, touching on subjects like current issues, humanity and family. Malique's lyrics also reflect the depth of his love for knowledge, history, literature and world cultures. In the latter part of his career, he generated interest from the non-urban listeners for his lyrics in Bahasa Melayu. Malique is particular about grammatical accuracy, choosing to deliver his lyrics in bahasa baku (english: standardized language) instead of colloquial Malay, as he believes the beauty of the Malay language is best showcased in this manner. The only exception to this rule was the song Rahsia, in which colloquial Malay was used.
"...the real master strokes of the album has got to be in the poetry laid on top of these beats. Malique's words and rhyme slither effortlessly and charmingly into your ears, a most pleasing experience indeed. His choice of words and innovative rhyming meters is a work of art, as if chiseled into form from a swirling mass of seemingly-disconnected words that must be perpetually surrounding his consciousness. The fact that this progressive approach to rap and rhyme has been done mostly in the Malay language is a landmark event in itself. I daresay that this album deserves to be studied, not just by hip-hop fans, not just by music fans, but by Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka itself." - Ahmad Izham Omar
The success of Malique's music has been achieved with little to no conventional advertising. Malique is rarely seen in public and he does not own any social media accounts. He does not attend events and awards ceremonies, give interviews, do shows, or even appear in his own music videos. For the song Aku Maafkan Kamu, he cast comedian Zizan Razak in his place. Black Hanifah appeared alone in the video for Teman Pengganti. In the e-book Projek Buku, published by Adly Syairi Ramly, Malique explains that "visuals in a business of audio, is sheer suicide". In a separate statement, Malique said "I want to be known for my music rather than what I wore, what I ate or who I dated."
INFLUENCES AND TECHNIQUE
Malique typically penned his lyrics in a black Moleskine journal, however after his solo album OK, he stopped putting pen to paper and began writing and storing his lyrics completely in his mind. He is also known throughout the industry as a perfectionist, sometimes discarding entire completed songs and starting over from scratch because he was unhappy with how they turned out. He also frequently changes his mind about a featured artiste or musical arrangement, and pushes his colleagues and artistes to the limits of their skills. Early in his career, expectations often led him to lose his temper, and as a result, he did not always get along with people outside the line of music production. Only a few who shared his working ideals managed to maintain an extensive and productive working relationship with Malique.
"Malique's infamous perfectionist ways is evident in the quality of this indie effort and it's apparent upon unfolding the album sleeve itself" - Trix of DoseTwo
"Malique, as a musician is a perfectionist in every sense of the word. This can be seen in the Too Phat recordings and I have personally witnessed the man’s work ethic. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that when he decided to make a solo album, it would result in something monumental no less." - Emceedavid
"That being said, Malique’s intensity really did push us and kept us on our toes. Others might say that he was too much of a perfectionist, I say that he was someone I learnt a lot from." - Ahmad Izham Omar
During the writing and production of his album OK, Malique ate and slept very little, and in the process he lost a great deal of weight. Having previously been known for his muscular physique (in Too Phat), his weight loss spawned rumors about illnesses; none of which were true. Deep in the process of lyric writing, Malique has been known to have skipped one or two days of meals, even spending nights and weeks at Platinum Studios so that he could record directly the next day.
Malique used the alter ego Que Chill during his time in Too Phat. Later on in his solo career, he refers to himself as the General.
FEATURINGS AND PRODUCTIONS
Malique has featured over 50 artistes both as part of Too Phat and his solo career. The most notable of these include:
Warren G (Just a Lil bit)
(The late) Datuk Sharifah Aini (You)
Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza (Dua Dunia)
Inul Daratista (How Me Seksi)
Datuk M. Nasir (Mantera Beradu)
Akil the MC of Jurassic 5 (Assalamualaikum)
Datuk Jamal Abdillah (Aku Maafkan Kamu)
Dayang Nurfaizah (Pejamkan Mata)
In 2005 Malique met and began dating Malaysian actress Melissa Maureen Rizal. The couple kept their relationship out of the public eye. On June 6th, 2006, Malique and Melissa were engaged and set the date for their wedding two years later on August 8th, 2008. Malique and his fiancée were married in an intimate ceremony held in Nusa Dua, Bali. The akad nikah was attended only by the couple's immediate family and a handful of close friends; amongst them D'Navigator, DJ Fuzz, DJ T-Bone and Joe Flizzow. Malique and his wife have four children; Inca Medina (born 2009), Rumi Arjuna (born 2011), Chasca Maya (born 2013) and Ezra Aditya (born 2015). Malique and his family reside in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
Malique has been subject to rumors about his health, particularly after the release of the song Teman Pengganti. The rumors include a brain tumor, cancer and even death. To this date, Malique has had no major health issues.
The biggest controversy during Malique's career was the call for his song Bawaku Pergi (performed by Zizan Razak and Kaka Azraff) to be banned from radio airplay. The lyrics were misinterpreted to be misleading for youths, inviting runaway incidents. In a statement released via Qarma Musiq’s website, Malique clarifies that the lyrics were written as a sequel to his previous release Pergi Jauh. The banning of Bawaku Pergi caused an outcry about the hard-handed tactics of certain groups and authorities.