Joseph Malik is one of Scotland’s most undersung singers, taking his time to craft thoughtful, timeless releases. Relocating to Edinburgh from his native Glasgow in the early 1990s, this Nigerian/Scottish/Irish maestro first emerged as one half of hip-hop duo Blacka’nized (back when Young Fathers were young toddlers). But his sporadic solo career has been marked by a shift towards classic soul music with a social conscience, like a Caledonian Curtis Mayfield.
Malik was one of the speakers at last summer’s Black Lives Matter rally in Holyrood Park, crowd samples from which appear on his new album Diverse Part 3, the final part of a trilogy which has taken 20 years to complete but could not have emerged at a better time to provide some balm for the soul.
“As soon as lockdown started, I began watching news clips from around the world and was moved by the enormity of peoples' suffering,” says Malik. “Channelling my feelings onto paper, I wrote without stopping until I knew I'd created an album that conveyed my message. I then rallied a core of Edinburgh musicians, and set to work organising the recording process. The tracks were laid down in three studios around Edinburgh in order for everyone to remain compliant and safe. Even under these unusual arrangements, the results were phenomenal.”
Malik and trombonist Chris Grieve provide a taster of those results with this Scotsman Sessions rendition of album track Looking Right Back at You Part 1, filmed in Elvis Shakespeare record and book shop on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk.
Spurred on by the challenges and opportunities of the past year, Malik has plans “to continue being an activist within the community to truly get things done at street level, set up a Diversity Foundation for young artists to help them find their place in music in Scotland, and to continue my role as an A&R scout in Scotland for Ramrock Records.”
Diverse Part 3 is released by Ramrock Records on 25 June
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