New York, NY – Yung Mal hails from the Zone 6 area in Atlanta, GA, a breeding ground that has produced a prolific group of artists like Gucci Mane, Future, and 21 Savage. Coming under the tutelage of Gucci, Yung Mal does not have a single doubt in his mind about being the next big rapper out of Atlanta.
The confidence Yung Mal exudes is a result of his time growing up in East Atlanta where he says you have to catch your moment and run with it while you can. “A lot is going on in the 6 at one time, good and bad,” he tells HipHopDX. “You have to watch how you move in the 6 because you don’t want to get lost or get your head knocked off.” The wild surroundings of his neighborhood could have boxed Yung Mal in, but thanks to his energetic spirit and steadfast dedication, the rapper knew he had to work harder than everyone else to survive.
The 24-year-old emerged on to the scene through the mixtape circuit, making a name for himself with his gritty, trap-inspired rhymes. He formed a group called Mal & Quill in 2017 with his longtime friend Lil Quill, and the duo turned heads for their relentless work ethic dropping three mixtapes in two years. After catching the attention of Gucci Mane with their EP Kids of the 6, which paid homage to the Zone 6 legend, both rappers found a home with Guwop’s 1017 Eskimo imprint through a partnership with Alamo Records. From then on, the group prospered under Gucci Mane, but the real test would be waiting for Yung Mal as Lil Quill was unfortunately incarcerated in 2019.
Knowing he had to keep the momentum going with how busy and cluttered Atlanta’s Hip Hop scene is, Yung Mal put in the work needed to propel his solo career. He released new material every Friday, whether it be a new song or video, and earned the title Mr. Friday from his fans as a result. In August 2019, Yung Mal unleashed his debut album Iceburg, a strong introduction that featured Gucci Mane, Gunna, Pi’erre Bourne, Lil Quill and more. The 15-track project captured Yung Mal’s fiery energy and took listeners on a journey around East Atlanta with his vivid narratives of life in Zone 6.
The next chapter in Yung Mal’s blossoming career is his latest project, 6 Rings that features Lil Quill, Lil Keed, Lil Gotit and Doe Boy. Teaming up with Baltimore producer Pyrex Whippa, Yung Mal delivers a 12-track onslaught of heavy-hitting trap records that showcase his hasty flow and storytelling ability. Standout tracks include “Cocaine Freestyle,” “What’s Popping,” “La Cienaga,” and “100 Missed Calls” where Yung Mal wastes no time riding all over Pyrex’s bass-heavy beats.
Before fans can sit and fully digest 6 Rings, Yung Mal has plans to open the flood gates and continue releasing music at a rapid pace. “I already have everything mapped out,” he says. “I’ll be back in 60 days. I’m not going to the studio to do one or two songs, I’m sending six or seven songs two or three times a week.”
HipHopDX continued the conversation with Yung Mal at the Alamo Records offices in New York City to talk more about 6 Rings, his unwavering work ethic, the best advice Gucci Mane has given him, his ruthless recording process and more.
HipHopDX: Everyone knows how much of a hotspot Atlanta is when it comes to Hip Hop. What’s the formula to survive in Atlanta as a rapper?
Yung Mal: Atlanta you have to catch what you catch when the time is right. It’s a time thing with Atlanta I’ll say. Atlanta is like Hollywood now where everyone wants to act but its just everyone wants to rap. If it’s for you it’s going to happen but for some folks, it doesn’t. There’s a support system in Atlanta but you have to make sure your business is good. All that on top of the competition in Atlanta where everybody is rapping you have to stay on top of it.
HipHopDX: How do you try to stand out from everyone coming out of Atlanta?
Yung Mal: I just do my own thing and I have my own style. I never really made my style off of somebody else. Even in rap, I’m not going into the booth to sound like anybody. Ever since I started people always said I didn’t sound like anybody. I guess it’s my voice because I was always told I had a great voice. I used that and knew I was already different from anyone else. It helped me especially with the Atlanta scene because, as you said, everyone is packed on top of each other with the same swag and all that. There’s a lot of people that come up under others, guys who don’t know how to rap, who follow their favorite rapper and watch them then feel like they can rap. It’s like a monkey sees monkey do type of thing.
HipHopDX: How’d you discover Hip Hop?
Yung Mal: I’m actually from New Orleans so it was basically Lil Wayne and the Hot Boyz. When I was 9 years old I moved to Atlanta and I was listening to Gucci Mane, Future, and Rocko. When I was in middle school Young Thug was coming up so I was rocking with him too.
HipHopDX: When did you know you wanted to become a rapper?
Yung Mal: I had a computer in my house that had a whole bunch of music on there. Sometimes, when my mother paid the internet bill, I could get on it but when I couldn’t I always had music on there. I used to rock with a library full of songs and it went from listening to everybody else’s music to me writing to their beats. I was using the same exact flow as them but just like putting my own words in there. I was putting in words that rhymed with what they were saying. It went from there and I recorded a song on a karaoke machine and I was shocked because this nigga named Maestro played it outside in the car and people were rocking with it. I was really young but it was crazy for me.
HipHopDX: You have one of the biggest rappers to come out of Atlanta taking you under their wing. How did you link with Gucci Mane?
Yung Mal: I remember Quill and I made the EP Kids of the 6 and I had a song that sampled Gucci Mane’s “East Atlanta 6” on there. We used that whole tape to get his attention and when we posted it we had everyone tag him. One of my old managers told me I was about to get signed but I didn’t believe it. Two weeks later I’m on the phone with Gucci myself and talking to him like it was crazy. I let him know he didn’t just sign a normal person, he signed the real deal from the bottom.
I met him in person at a video shoot and it was my first time kicking it with superstars like that. I think I had like $20,000 in my pocket like I’m actually a rapper now. I had to get over that phase because I was stuck in that for a long time where everywhere I went it was all about Gucci Mane. It took me a minute to step away from that and figure things out so that I could go crazy.
HipHopDX: We don’t see a lot of rappers these days who are aware of what could happen if they let the limelight swallow them.
Yung Mal: There’s a lot of artists whos label makes it easy for them and that’s why they don’t do as much. They get spoon-fed the whole way and they find themselves not even working. The label buys them a house, has them in the studio where they’re not even rapping and other things but I use that as an advantage.
HipHopDX: What’s the best advice Gucci Mane has given you?
Yung Mal: He honestly told me how to move and I’ve been through a lot even before being a rapper. The main thing is you want to be safe because this is your life. You’re a target and it’s just how it is. The main thing you really have to understand and do is know how to move because if you don’t know you’ll be locked up or dead and none of this will matter then. That’s one thing he always got on me about. He always asked and made me think about why I posted a certain thing on social media.
HipHopDX: Do you feel you have an advantage with somebody like Gucci giving you advice like this?
Yung Mal: Definitely. To be honest, even with my peers, I’m on them the way he is on me. I’m not the type of person to go through something and not learn from my mistakes. All it takes is one time and I learn, I promise. I won’t do things two or three more times because I know how life is. I try to be on top of everything and with my brothers I let them know not to make any mistakes. If they do, they’re going to fall back on me so the main thing is just how to move.
HipHopDX: What’s the inspiration behind 6 Rings?
Yung Mal: I don’t even know but I know I wanted to have the number 6 in it. After I dropped Iceburg the label was on me to get back to work and we were trying to find a producer that would do it. I ended up linking with Pyrex, and mind you we were only locked in for a week. I completed the project in four days and the other days Pyrex didn’t even come. The first day we locked in and he cooked some beats on the spot. I don’t remember which day he wasn’t there but he sent over beats and I went in by myself that day. I didn’t take any time with this project, I was done with it like last year. You can ask the label because every time I go into the studio they get an album back from me. In a week I’m sending like five videos when the songs are finished being made. I’m not playing around.
HipHopDX: I mean you have the opportunity to work as hard as you do.
Yung Mal: I’m going to the studio tonight. I’m going to shoot some videos while I’m out here. I have to keep the ball rolling and keep going. I might be 10 steps ahead but I’m trying to take 20 more steps. Everything is already laid out and that’s how you have to do it if you’re serious about this.
HipHopDX: We don’t normally hear young rappers these days have a work ethic like this or have their future plans laid out the way you do.
Yung Mal: It took me a long time to have to go back and get my mind strong enough to handle work like this. Your brain and brain cells have to be strong enough to push you through it. Everybody might want to rap but make sure you have it all together the whole way through. You’ll be like me going back a whole year to get everything right if you don’t. After I dropped Iceburg, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders. Iceburg was my first project and when that dropped I was amped to work on the next one. I was so eager to get started on it because I was having too much fun doing this rap thing.
I’m waking up at five or six in the morning shooting videos. Ask the label, they don’t even talk to me anymore like that. They let me do what I do because they know I work. I haven’t gone to sleep since I got off the plane this morning and before getting on the flight I was in Atlanta staying up all night getting everything right back home. The first thing I did when I got here was check-in, shower and I was right back out after that doing interviews all day. The label begs me to get some rest and go to sleep and I tell them ok but it’s really like they know I’m not doing that. I let them do what they need to do on their side and I’m doing what I need to do. I work so hard people may think it’s all the label’s work. The label isn’t worried about me.
HipHopDX: What do you want 6 Rings to be for you as a rapper?
Yung Mal: 6 Rings feels like a championship to me. We made it to the pros, we dropped the tape, we knocked this next one out so fast and we put in more work. Even though we didn’t really win yet this is the championship. This is my eighth tape and I’m at the point where they’re hearing my name. I’m going to celebrate this but two months from now I’m back in.
HipHopDX: How did you link with Pyrex Whippa?
Yung Mal: I didn’t know Pyrex. It’s actually crazy because we’re so tight now. I think I met him at the studio one night and we did “Toothpaste.” We didn’t really put any effort into it, he played the beat, I liked it and when I started rapping on it I was chilling. After that, it was history between me and Pyrex. There are a few songs on the tape that’s like that. He would play the beat and I didn’t have to go in there and think about my rhymes. I just went in there on my chill shit like I was in my zone. We knocked it out so fast and sent it back to the label a while ago and we’re just putting it out now. Iceburg came out in August and by October or November, I was already done with 6 Rings.
HipHopDX: How many projects do you have stashed away in the vault?
Yung Mal: It only takes 10 songs to make an album. I can make 10 songs in two days I swear to God. I’ll do 10 songs in two sessions and each session is six hours. Each song is about two or three minutes and that’s not adding anything extra to it. Even with this project I only recorded in all maybe 15 songs and 12 of them made the cut. Do you see what I’m saying? Once I send those 15 songs I’m not even worried about them because I’m spending another two days making 10 more songs again. If I send 16 tracks one day and 16 another day, at least 10 or 12 songs will get picked from that bunch. There is no way at least 10 songs won’t make the album.
Even with Iceburg, I had a lot of songs that were supposed to make it but didn’t. When I go to the studio I don’t sit there and just chill or waste time. The minute I go in there I tell them to pull up the beat and we go. I’m not trying to go in there and take all day trying to find a beat or be in a session for six hours and only make one song. The only way that happens is if the engineer isn’t right and if the engineer isn’t right I’m going to kick their ass out. I don’t go to the studio to play.
HipHopDX: Where do you see your career going?
Yung Mal: I’m going off honestly. This is like my third or fourth time in this office and I can tell you the different feelings I’m getting this time around. Every other time I’ve been in here it’s been a slow progression to where I walk in now and they all know me. My plans right now are to get everything going again in two months. It’s inevitable what I’m bout to do.
HipHopDX: Do you see yourself being a rapper still 10 years from now?
Yung Mal: To be real I’m really breaking my mind into seeing myself doing other things. I know for sure my plan is to sign other artists mainly from my hood. Once the money gets heavy, it’s going to be trouble because I’m not just going to be spending my money just to spend it. If there’s a barbershop or car dealership for sale, we want it and my name is going to be on everything. I want to buy back one of the neighborhoods I stayed in if I can and build a whole complex. But 10 years from now will I still be a rapper? I won’t sit here and say that because 10 years from now you know how many more rappers will be out? I do want people to look at me 10 years from now as Big Mal like I’m the big bro.
Follow Yung Mal on his Instagram page @yungmal_15 and stream his new project 6 Rings down below.