Versatility, originality, and vision, Bajan producer and rapper Haleek Maul confidently exudes all three as he delivers raw, unfiltered grit and style with his new track “LOOT.” Underscored by a bright, Afro-informed beat, Haleek’s flow effortlessly moves like strokes across a canvas as he paints with deep, brooding tones which create a captivating juxtaposition. “I’ve got different modes, and this one is really aggressive,” says Haleek. “We need multiple perspectives, and it's okay for things to be a little raw. “LOOT” is really heavy and kind of fun, too.”
Having developed his sound over more than a decade–a distinct marriage between Afro Caribbean culture, hardcore hip hop, and melodic influences–Haleek’s music is emblematic of his whole being. “I've become more and more comfortable with all that I am. So now my music is a really fluid transmission of where I’m at, what I'm doing, or how I feel. I'm making more interesting, formless things–songs that are more like paintings and feel more fluid. I’m distilling the music down to a more pure form.”
Growing up in Barbados, his first exposure to music came from family. “My uncle had all the rap albums–Life After Death, Ready To Die, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, so I listened to all those albums by the time I was eight or nine. My sister was more on the smooth vibe. She used to listen to a lot of Jill Scott, Amy Winehouse, stuff like that. So I had hardcore hip hop and more conscious, melodic, feminine perspective music playing growing up.”
Haleek started rapping in high school where he began to consider music as a career path. “The school I went to for high school, you needed good grades to go there, and there were more privileged people there. That’s where I got exposed to the idea of being an artist as a profession,” says Haleek. “People there were rapping, and it was a competitive thing. It became a little scene.”
Starting to release music under the moniker Haleek Maul at age 15, he leaned into darker, more experimental hip hop. “I recorded on a webcam mic for a while, and then I met Strat, who had studio time for me. So I started going there every night and he helped me refine my style,” says Haleek. “It was real heavy, some crazy fucking music. I was on some really dark times but it was good though, because it was real creative. That was the fun part.”
His 2012 album Oxycoteen turned heads and gained the attention of major music blogs such as Fader and Pitchfork. “Early on I met a lot of really cool people, got to get in a lot of rooms, and experience music for real at 16.” Over the next ten years he played shows, signed with various labels, released multiple albums, and moved to New York and London. Now back in Barbados, Haleek has reconnected with his roots, integrated all he’s learned with all that he is, while returning to the childlike wonder of why he started making music in the first place. “I had to do a full circle. I went from, ‘Oh, this is fun,’ to, ‘Oh, this is serious,’ to, ‘Oh, this is fun again.’ Ten years later, my style has changed. My perspective has changed. I want to make art in a way that makes me feel good.”
Having spent the last year in the studio, Haleek’s found his rhythm in an instinctual creative approach and newly energized confidence. “I think I'm in a really good flow, I've made hundreds of songs in different styles, all super original, in my opinion.”
Adding web3 to his tool kit taking a multi-dimensional approach to sharing his work and creating in community, Haleek founded HOLDERSLAND in 2022–a music and media incubator focused on African and West Indian multi-hyphenate artistry. “HOLDERSLAND is a response to me being signed to a record label and not really feeling like they provided all the services that I needed,” says Haleek. “The perspective on how to monetize music was a bit one dimensional. And it's not their fault, it's just how the music business has worked for a very long time.”
Focused on amplifying and chronicling artifacts from the new Carribean, HOLDERSLAND’s mission is to build bridges and break down barriers by taking a holistic approach to distribution. “People don't care about music alone anymore: it's output. What’s inside this person's brain?” says Haleek. “People immerse themselves in the way that you think, how you dress, your slang, your story. Music is the nucleus, it's one of the purest forms, I think. But it's all these other things that come around it, too,” says Haleek. “HOLDERSLAND is about embracing that, distilling it, and building the wider identity of Caribbean and African creativity.”
Haleek’s 2022 release “VERIFIED” is a compelling example of this potential. A web3-community project, the “VERIFIED” music video is a stunning, and truly gigantic feat in visual execution that has since garnered over five million views. The phenomenon of the video’s resonance with African and Caribbean communities and its exposure worldwide is only a glimmer of what’s possible. “We're doing a lot more shoots in Barbados and working with a lot of artists in the Caribbean. With HOLDERSLAND we’re really trying to build out the Caribbean and Africa in that way–create new connections and present them to the world in a fresh way.”
Brimming with new material and energized by his community, Haleek is well positioned to continue making his vision reality on a global stage. His leadership, creative perspective, and raw talent forging the way.
HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1 is a compilation album curated by NOISE, with 16 tracks released on Sound. The album features new songs from artists we believe represent the values of web3 and whose work will be essential to every music NFT collector’s set in the future.
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