(AllHipHop Features) Over the last four decades, countless rap stars have parlayed their musical success into multi-million dollar business careers. An eventual move into entrepreneurship opportunities has become a more important objective for some musicians than earning a platinum certification award.
Malcolm “Malcs” Manswell actually took an opposite course. The Columbia, Maryland native first made a name for himself as the founder of SneakHeat before gaining recognition as an up-and-coming emcee.
“It’s a very interesting route I’m taking because nobody really does that. I feel like sometimes you get boxed in as an artist to just do music," Malcs tells AllHipHop.com. "But then you hear Drake signed a deal with Jordan Brand. Obviously, that’s corporate. Kanye signs a deal with Adidas. Obviously, that’s corporate.”
He continues, "They're all doing businesses. I just feel like I did it the reverse way. I started a business and then introduced the music afterwards.”
Manswell launched SneakHeat at just 19 years old, and he managed to turn it into one of the most interactive sneaker communities on the web. The company dubbed itself as the premier buy/sell/exchange sneaker platform.
SneakHeat has over 158,000 combined followers on social media. The BasedGod Lil B, Hot Boys member Turk, and Hip Hop journalist Rob Markman are among the blue-checked tweeters that follow the SneakHeat account on Twitter.
SneakHeat was even listed on Complex’s “25 Must-Follow People for Sneaker Release Info” list. His gains within the sneakerhead digital space eventually led to Manswell earning a position as a contracted employee with Nike. However, the former star Howard County high school soccer player always intended to pursue a path in the rap world. Manswell adopted a moniker given to him by a female friend as his stage name, and he began releasing songs online.“Malcs is just a nickname that I kind of picked up in middle school, and it stuck with me. It’s not somebody else's name,” explains Malcolm. “I feel like a lot of artists go with a name that’s not theirs. I wanted my name to connect back to me. Everything I talk about is pretty much what I really think. I wanted to stick with that idea.”In 2014, Malcs dropped a body of work called The Project. Numerous production minds provided the wide-ranging soundscapes. The 15-track mixtape was served to listeners as a stew of different styles.“Really Wanna Know” utilized elements of jazz instrumentation reminiscent of East Coast acts. “None Of My Business” was picked up straight from the traps of the South. “Interludin’” felt as if it landed from beyond the atmosphere.It all fused together to present some of Malcs’ favorite influences shared from his perspective. The tracks were then layered with stories based on true events from his life that he has either experienced or seen firsthand.“The Project was really an experiment, obviously with the title being The Project. That was the first project I ever put out,” states Malcs. “I dropped one song, ‘On The Map,’ to see if people were even listening, then that ended up being my number one song, so I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll just put together The Project.’”Since The Project hit LiveMixtapes two years ago, Malcs has continued to post new songs to his SoundCloud account. He also uploaded videos to YouTube, including the visuals for “Shipping/Pull A Fast One.”The respective names of the two records fit perfectly into the back story of how the clip was made. Malcs and director BrianFilm pulled a fast one by orchestrating a guerrilla shoot at a United States Postal Service location in Hollywood. The unapproved effort nearly landed the team behind bars.“I almost got a federal charge for that. You’re not supposed to be back there, and you’re obviously not supposed to be filming back there. It was the only thing that made sense for the video. So I was like, ‘F-ck it. Let’s just hop this fence,’” recalls Malcs. “We went through it about three times. We got everything we needed, so by the time they told us to leave we were already done.”Malcs is not finished sharing his diverse Hip Hop approach. Up next is The Rest Is History, a new collection hosted by Swishahouse Records co-founder and OVO Sound affiliate OG Ron C.After the on-air radio personality discovered Malcs’ Slaps EP, the two later met in person after a showcase during the 2015 SXSW Festival. Ron C supported Malcs’ music on 93.7 The Beat, and the Chopstars front man ultimately signed on as an official sponsor of the rapper’s movement.“He was showing mad love. He loved ‘All Day.’ He played it on the radio down in Houston,” says Malcs.Ron C adds, “I loved working with Malcs, because his music to me has somewhat of a southern vibe to it.”The Rest Is History could possibly get another large-scale endorsement from the house that Drake built. OVO Sound Radio may be where the tape first gets introduced. That outcome is very plausible considering Ron C has provided mixes for the Beats 1 program in the past.Besides OG Ron C's involvement with OVO, Malcs’ family history seems to be closely aligned with the YMCMB superstar’s brand as well. Malcolm is the son of a Canadian mother and Trinidadian father. Drake is the current voice of Toronto, and his Views LP was laced with West Indian references.With all these various connections, does Malcs have an interest in inking his name on an OVO contract? He is not opposed to signing a deal with Drizzy’s imprint or perhaps another record company such as Lyor Cohen's 300 Entertainment.“I would have no problem doing that. I feel like I have a great understanding for what would be the best fit for my music and who can take me to the place I need to be,” responds Malcs to the question of whether he would consider joining a label. “I feel like OVO is one of the top ones that I would sign to. I feel like my music is similar to the OVO sound.”As Malcs prepares to deliver the most recent representation of his musical direction, the Towson University graduate expects The Rest Is History to make a measurable impact on his trajectory as an artist. In addition, he hopes the project assists in shining a larger light on the entire DMV Hip-Hop awakening taking place.“I feel like this project is one of the things where I get a lot of eyeballs on me. I feel like it's the project that’s going to be the breakout, because before it was all organic. I almost touched a million plays on SoundCloud with no blog help,” Malcs declares. “You guys are going to see the work is there already. I’m making moves that will help make the area pop, not just myself.”
[ALSO READ: #DMVOnTheMove: Tate Kobang Wants The World To Know He Won’t Be Placed In Any Musical Box]
Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #DMVOnTheMove series here.Follow Malcs on Twitter @TheRealMalcs and Instagram @therealmalcs.Follow SneakHeat on Twitter @SneakHeat and Instagram @SneakHeat.Stream Malcs’ The Project below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Trash Hand