Steven Malcolm Talks About Landmark New Album “Tree,” Working With Snoop Dogg And More

Steven Malcolm

Steven Malcolm discusses how he got his start in music, his biggest influences, how he landed in the church, collaborating with Snoop Dogg, his forthcoming album “Tree,” and more!

Steven Malcolm is here to change the stigma of Christian Hip-Hop for the better. Amassing over 58 million streams across all streaming platforms and 13.1 million views on YouTube in 2021 alone, the rising star prides himself in making authentic, heartfelt music, true to him and everything he stands for. 

Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, aka the Midwest, Malcolm fell in love with music early on, as he eventually became a member of the hip-hop church in his hometown. With his father deported to Jamaica for selling drugs when Steven Malcolm was 9, the recording artist had to find solace in something positive… and music would be his calling. 

Fast forward to 2022, Malcolm returns with his newest project titled Tree, with his wife and son on the album cover. Serving as the third full-length album, the project speaks volumes about his current state, touching on everything from his personal life to his rise as a Christian rapper. 

Plus, he has a standout collab with Snoop Dogg on “Summertime” that will forever go down in history as one of the greatest moments of his professional career.

AllHipHop: Being from Grand Rapids, you grew up fatherless. What was that like?

Steven Malcolm: My dad decided to sell drugs, so he got deported back to Jamaica when I was 9 years old. Mom grew up rough in the system and group homes. She developed alcohol problems, so it pushed me into a situation where I had to raise myself. I chose to go the dream route as a young dreamer trying to pursue a basketball career. I went to the parties, danced, pretty boy in high school, doing my thing. I was just living my life, coolin’.

I just graduated high school, and I was on my way to college, pursuing a law enforcement degree. I kept trying to do the whole basketball thing and just trying to figure out life. I grew up with no dad, no mom. I had no guidance, no identity, no nothing so I was searching to find out who I was and what I wanted out of life. Next thing you know, everybody invites me to this hip-hop church. I’m thinking “hip hop and Jesus? What y’all talking about?” That mix didn’t make sense to me. 

AllHipHop: What was your experience with church before that?

Steven Malcolm: I stepped into a few churches because I stayed the night at a friend’s house. They’d look at me weird: tell me to take off my hat, pull up my pants. So, the church rubbed me the wrong way. Okay all these people talking about this hip-hop stuff, let me check this thing out and see what everybody’s talking about. I stepped in seeing young black and brown people that look like me, that talked like me, but they loved God. Their worship combined hip hop music, dancing, and spoken word. 

I’m seeing this cat on stage krump dancing, he gets off stage I say, “bro you just slayed!” He said, “all glory to God.” These young people are living for the Lord, and they still got that hip-hop culture in it. I had so much going on at home. My sister was stripping, doing cocaine, and sleeping around. Mom remarried and moved, all my friends and my older cousins were in the street life. I never wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to be successful and pursue my dreams. I was looking for an identity. I walked into this place; it was my first-time experiencing peace. No chaos, no gang banging, no fighting, no craziness.

It swept me off my feet, I surrendered my life to the Lord. Started going and growing in my faith for a year. After a year, the pastor said “yo, it’s time to get up off your butt, serve people and be a light to this world. So, what do you want to do?” I said “well, I can rap a little bit. Let me hop on the worship team and start rapping for service.” I started doing that then boom, God took it from there and made it a career. Now I’m a Christian hip-hop artist traveling the world, doing full-time music, and working to impact millions of people by letting them know about the love and forgiveness found through Jesus.

AllHipHop: Was there a turning point where you had a moment that boosted your career and your following?

Steven Malcolm: I was grinding independently. The pastor and I got a grant to teach high school students how to record and engineer ourselves. We built a studio in the church. I’d live at the Church, teaching high school and middle schoolers how to record and be artists. With that, I was doing my own recording at night and making my little projects. I was putting out free music on SoundCloud, grinding for five years. I was doing shows independently and still working at Nordstrom retail.

 Finally, I did a contest. An A&R rep at a major label got his hands on the video like “yo this kid’s a star.” He hit me up on Twitter. This dude is somebody, he saw it. He told me about this imprint he was starting on this major label. They flew me out to Nashville, and I realized it could change my life, that was late 2016. I signed to the label and got to leave Nordstrom and pursue it full-time.

AllHipHop: Do you think it’s hard to be a Christian rapper today?

Steven Malcolm: Absolutely. I wouldn’t say hard, hard is the wrong word. It comes with its pros and cons just like everything else. The pro is I get to do what I love and tell people about God and what he can do every day through my music. People are always trying to put you in a box. One song isn’t “Christian” enough and the next one is “too Christian” Man, some of the fans, they’re confused about who Jesus was and the mission we’re on. Jesus tells us to share the message with everyone, not just those who already found him. Man, that is what I’m trying to do.

AllHipHop: Who are your biggest influences? Artists that you listen to that made you want to do music.

Steven Malcolm: My top three? Michael Jackson, I saw one of his concerts on TV and I thought “oh my gosh, how can he move his body like that?” So, I started dancing and learned how to dance. Then, Bob Marley, that’s all my pops would listen to. Growing up in a car, playing cassette tapes, growing up on Bob Marley. Coming of age and growing up as a teenager, Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne was always on my iPod. The Dedication’s, Da Drought’s, The Carter’s! Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and Lil Wayne are my top three influencers musically.

AllHipHop: You just released “Ain’t Playin'” with Social Club Misfits.

Steven Malcolm: Social Club Misfits man, they’re homies of mine in the Christian hip-hop space. They’re OGs in the game who have been doing it for a long time. They have 12 albums out; they did their independent thing and they got signed at Capital. I got to tour with them in 2017, they’re really good friends. They’re those artists you meet who are genuine. You listen to their music; you meet them and find out they’re dope people. Shout out to Social Club. Uncle FERN and Marty, those are my guys.

AllHipHop: Is there a video coming?

Steven Malcolm: Nah, man. I got that collaboration with Snoop, we had to pour the big-budget into that Snoop video. I couldn’t do any videos, I had to focus on where the home run was at.

 AllHipHop: How’d you end up linking with Snoop Dogg on “Summertime”?

Steven Malcolm: Oh, my goodness, legendary alert! You know how he does all the TV stuff? One of my songs called “Summertime” got placed, he heard it and vibed with it. It’s real West Coast. His team hit my A&R up like “yo, this record is crazy. Who is it?” It’s Malcolm, boom. “Y’all trying to do a remix?” Absolutely. They said, “Give us 24 hours.” Snoop’s team said bet. They hit us back the next day with the vocals.

It was the easiest verse to get for the project, as crazy as that sounds. They asked him about the video, and we ended up in Tulsa. He and Cube were out there doing the Mount Westmore tour in Tulsa. They said, “pull up.” We pulled up with a 64 Impala, popped it up, and said “let’s go!” We shot the video, the link-up was crazy. It was a God thing for sure. He is who he is on TV, that smooth personality. The first thing he said when he came in on a little electric scooter was “the Dogg has arrived.”

The coolest cat, man. He vibed with the record, I could tell he was into it. He knew the words and was vibing with it. That was important because I was thinking “aw, he ain’t gon’ know the words. He’ll be in and out really quick.” But nah, he took his time. He was intentional with everything that he did with the time that we had him for, it was dope.

AllHipHop: Did you make that “Summertime” record with him in mind?

Steven Malcolm: Nah. Honestly, thinking back to when I first got my hands on the record, there’s a scent in it that reminds me of the movie Baby Boy. You know Snoop played in Baby Boy. There are sounds in the record that reminds me of that West Coast, Snoop Dogg growing up feel. To have him on it is surreal and it makes sense at the same time.

AllHipHop: What can we expect from your new album, Tree?

Steven Malcolm: You can expect absolute greatness because it’s an amazing album, front to back. It’s one of those joints where I locked myself in an Airbnb for a whole four-day weekend. Had a folder of beats, went to work, and poured into it. They always say as an artist, by your third album, you figure out your why. I figured out my why for this album. Me being Jamaican, we pronounce three, tree. One, two, three. This being my third album, man let’s name it Tree. I’m a family of three.

When it comes to my faith, I feel so rooted in what I’ve done. I’ve been a Christian now for over a decade, and I’m still here standing firm. I still serve at my Church, I’m still the same person. I’ve never let anything taint me, waver me, or anything like that. I’m seeing my life bear fruit. I’m changing the course of my family tree with having my son. I visited my dad’s gravesite, his tombstone had errors on it. My dad left me no legacy as a son. I’m breaking that curse; my family tree looks a lot different now. It just all makes sense.

AllHipHop: What does it mean to have your wife and your son on the cover?

Steven Malcolm: That’s my life and who I am. I’ve always been searching for what I’m passionate about, other than music. I found that I’m very passionate about being a pop, leaving a legacy for my son. By the time my son’s grown, he’ll have a relationship with God and a respect for me that I wish I could’ve had for my pops. To be able to look him in his face today and be proud of the life God and hard work have given me.

AllHipHop: Does he have a favorite song of yours?

Steven Malcolm: He’s only one. It probably all sounds the same to him. [Laughs]

AllHipHop: Why was it important to put your Jamaican roots in the album?

Steven Malcolm: It’s who I am. I realize I must put my identity in my music. I can’t just rap about what’s cool or being on fire for the Lord, I want to put my identity and who I am in my music. I had Jamaican in me, that’s my heritage. I was in the studio one time when I was making my debut album. The producer said “let’s do some reggae stuff. Aren’t you Jamaican?” I said yeah. He said, “You should do that a lot more.” Because in this space of Christian hip-hop, there’s nobody that’s Jamaican other than me. He said “own that sound. Coin that Christian hip-hop and reggae, bring it together. That’s you.” I’ve always wanted to incorporate it, it’s a must.

AllHipHop: Three things you need in the studio at all times?

Steven Malcolm: Oh man, I need candles. I need highlights playing from Jordan, Jackson, and Tyson. Plus, cereal. I’m a seasonal guy with cereals. I got my favorites now. Right now, I’m loving Honey Nut Cheerios. It’s on point. Then the milk is like honey milk at the end, mmm. [Laughs]

AllHipHop: Talk about also linking with Shaggy on the album, I recently interviewed him as well.

Steven Malcolm: He’s the coolest, he’s just a cool dude. The link-up was dope, it was in New York. We were shooting the video. When you meet stars like that, you’re quiet. Maybe starstruck or shy, whatever. We were in between takes, he leans over to me like “hey man, you’re a little too quiet. You need to come to my dressing room and have some drinks with us. Get loose man.” 

I started cracking up. He invited me to his dressing room, and we had a couple of drinks. He was sharing stories about his music; I’m asking him questions. It was a vibe; he was super cool. He continued to have a couple more drinks. [Laughs] By the end, my man couldn’t remember some of his words, which was hilarious. Shout out to Shaggy, I love him. It was such a fun time. He loved the record. First, I’ll be honest. Somebody from his team and my management showed them the record, they loved it and wanted me to do a remix. It took me a while to even try to find a Reggae style to put on it, but we got it together and made it happen.

AllHipHop: How’d it feel winning Best Hip Hop Collaboration at the 2021 Kingdom Choice Awards? Childish Major is my guy. 

Steven Malcolm: It was fire. He’s a cool dude, reminds me a lot of myself. He is just a regular cat. I got to link with him for the “Glory on Me” video. It was cool. I need to link with him more often. I’ve got to make my way to Atlanta. The song is dope man, super dope.

AllHipHop: Do you have any goals for yourself?

Steven Malcolm: Absolutely. I was thrown into the music industry, so I’m that guy who’s finding himself as he goes. It’s album three, so I know my why, branding, what I want to do with my music, and whom I want to speak to. Now I want to grow as a businessman because my business is Steven Malcolm. I want it to be as successful as a Tesla or a Walmart. My goal is to grow as a businessman and level up in that aspect.

AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?

Steven Malcolm: Tree is coming June 3rd. It’s going to be a crazy album. Imagine having the best of CHH, then having Uncle Snoop, then having one of the illest rappers from the Midwest all on one album — that’s talking about something real. It’s going to be a blessing for a lot of people. Tree coming soon!