By Jasmine Barta
No one can deny that music is powerful. It inspires us, motivates us, and can even help us overcome tragedy and heartbreak. Music is a vital part of our daily lives and it influences us from a young age. Despite all of this, there is still a lot of negative music – songs laced with obscenity and violence.
That’s why a #PositiveMusicMovement is exactly what this world needs. Father and son team Xola and Mattias Malik are at the center of this movement, and what they’re doing to help change the music industry is nothing short of extraordinary.
Mattias Malik (who goes by the stage name Kendi Fresh) is only 11-years-old, yet he’s already creating hip-hop music that’s meant to make a positive difference in this world. He decided to pursue music at age 9, and he hasn’t wasted any time.
“I used to always watch my dad perform and it looked really fun and like something I really wanted to do,” he said. “And I would always ask, so we finally made my first song, ‘Pass the Microphone.'”
The song was recorded with his father, the hip-hop artist formerly known as Kid Sensation, and is about leading by example, uniting the community, and knowing that the sky is the limit when you work hard. Kendi Fresh also released his first solo single to iTunes this year. It’s a tracked called “Lean” and is about his love of dancing, which started at a young age. You can find the music video HERE.
Mattias is only in the 5th grade, yet he already has wisdom that takes some people years to achieve. His debut album “I Can Do All Things” will be released in the upcoming months, and his songs have some pretty great messages. Among the track list is an anti-bullying song called “Cool With Me.” It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and accepting of others, despite appearance or differences.
“I want people to know that not all rap songs are bad and some have good messages, and I want people to be inspired by the good messages in my songs,” Mattias said, who believes he can spread kindness and positivity through music.
He also loves sharing his journey with his dad, and hopes they’ll continue to bond over creating music while aiming to make a change in the hip-hop industry. Recently Xola and Kendi performed at an Amazon event, which was broadcast in over 16 different countries.
“There’s a lot of artists who rap about [negative] things and I want to make it different, and maybe even people can rap like me someday,” he said. “Cursing doesn’t have to make a song good. You can have a good song with a good beat if you just have the right lyrics and mindset.”
Mattias says he likes to keep a “positive and never give up” mindset, and that’s gotten him pretty far! Just last week, he was presented an award at the Right Now Today 2017 Humanitarian Awards alongside three other inspiring kids who have each made a huge difference in the community. It was presented to him by his father, who couldn’t be more proud of his son’s selflessness and desire to give back to others.
“He’s always loved music and it’s really exciting to watch him blossom,” Xola said. “I think his ceiling is so much higher than mine. He’s really good at what he does, and he got it a long time before I got it.” He hopes that he and his son can not only make a positive change through music, but also in the way young African American men are sometimes negatively viewed in society.
Xola sold over one million units during his hip-hop career as Kid Sensation, but he said there came a time when he outgrew that part of his life, and changed not only his stage name, but his legal name as well. “The name means ‘stay in peace’. It’s African, and at that time there was a lot of turmoil in my life and I kind of needed more peace,” he said. “And I loved the meaning of the name.”
He admits that his music wasn’t always so uplifting, and while his career used to be about what he could get out of hip hop, now it’s about what he can give. And that’s where he found his true self and authenticity.
“I grew up and I didn’t have a whole lot. So of course you’re striving to have more and you’re trying to become something. And you feel like whatever your accomplishments are or the money that you earn, that’s where your success is at,” he said “But then as you begin to get more of a worldview you see a little bit more and understand that your success is not all about you. Its about giving back to others and changing lives. So you just learn to be more selfless.”
Xola believes that music with a strong message can provide hope and bridge the gap between generations. He also wants to change the community’s perception of what a hip-hop artist is, and let the world know that hip-hop music can be positive and inspiring.
“The love in my heart and the selflessness in my heart – I hope that it permeates through my music and people can feel that. And I hope they’re inspired by that to love and to give a little bit more,” he said. “And that everyone does their part to try and make the world a little bit better.”
So, as a community, we have to ask ourselves: Do we want to support music that inspires love, kindness, and acceptance? Or do we continue to support music that evokes hatred and violence? It’s our choice, and our opportunity, to change the world for the better and uplift others.