Not long before the release of his new EP, A Friendly Introduction to Saund, I sat down with Lagos producer and artist Cracker Mallo to talk about his “Saund”, journey into music, and collaborations. Over the past couple of years Mallo’s flavoursome beats have been graced by the likes of Mayorkun, Fireboy DML & Tiwa Savage. Now he’s ready to introduce the world to his sound and position himself as an independent artist.
As the project title, I felt it was important to understand what Saund actually is – Saund with an A, not an O. “Saund is futuristic, I can’t explain it…it’s something that doesn’t really exist right now…I was in the studio with a friend playing about and the name just came up, it’s just a vibe”
Cracker’s sound may be from the future, but I was interested in what he’s listening to now. “My favourite song right now is Watermelon Sugar, and then Wizkid’s latest release – I’m a Wizkid fan…”– Wizkid is on Cracker’s list of artists he’d love to work with & that’s something I can definitely hear. “…I’ve also been listening to Khalid, Oxlade, Fireboy and different things.”
Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Cracker Mallo’s primary musical inspirations are close to home. His father was a jazz enthusiast who played records all around the house. Initially, Cracker got into music as a DJ, playing at friends’ parties, then he fell into production. “I had a friend Mojazzy, he’s a producer that I looked to…and then I used to listen to Sarz a lot, you know Sarz is like one of the hardest Nigerian producers…I’d also listen to Juls…”. Slightly further afield, Cracker also looked to producers such as Timbaland and Kanye West, “I watched them to understand how beats were put together”. This range explains Cracker’s ability to produce beats across a number of genres with Afrobeats at the core. The bulk of his releases have been afro-fusion; however most recently his Tiwa Savage track, Dangerous Love, is clearly heavily influenced by RnB. “I have a lot of songs that don’t even sound African, they’re like rap or trap or hip hop, and r&b...most things that I’ve heard before I can just replicate…”.
Although he has production credits on a number of projects, A Friendly Introduction to Saund is Cracker Mallo’s first EP. The 5-track project features collaborations from DJ Enimoney, DJ Neptune, Olamide, and long-time collaborator Fireboy DML. I asked how it all came into play and Cracker revealed that the songs weren’t even made with an EP in mind; “The only ones I created specifically for a project were Do Better and The Hardest.”. Cracker continued, “I was creating music at different times, so one day I felt like making house music or another day I’ll feel like I wanna make something slow, so it just depended on what’s going on around me or what I was feeling or who I was creating with.”.
This definitely took me by surprise, as the opening track felt constructed to be the introduction to a solo afro-house-fusion project with no vocal collaborations, just vibes.
This vibe was almost confirmed in the second track (my favourite) The Hardest, Cracker spoke a bit about the track and expressed: “This EP was supposed to be me collaborating with DJs and like, house producers so I tried to make a beat that could blow into a song on its own that people would gravitate to” – it all began to make sense.
Some artists have a track on their project that’s super close to them; others treat them like their kids – no favourites. When I asked about his favourite track, Cracker was proud to say Do Better was his favourite on the EP – “Hard to pick but I have to say Do Better; that’s the only one that’s just me and I did the vocals.”. I didn’t have him down as a vocalist, but Cracker made mention that neither did he at first – “…later on I started singing because I was hanging with singers, they made me want to sing too. I tried and recorded it one day and was like: dope, wow, I actually can?”.
As a producer, Cracker Mallo has worked on numerous collaborative tracks, I was curious to know if or how his creative process changes when other artists are involved. Cracker confessed, “At times I have the vibe and I like, get it in my head like, yeah I know what I want already and how to make it happen. Most times I have to think first, it depends, sometimes miracles can just happen”. When other artists are added to the equation it’s a real collaborative effort, “I’m open to what artists want to make, I just have to try and understand the direction they’re going in and what they want to portray with the song.” This synergic process is what has aided Cracker Mallo in producing seamless tracks, such as Fireboy DML’s 2019 breakout tune Jealous. The song came about after both of their individual sessions with other artists fell through “we almost didn’t have the session…when we got there, I started making the beat and he just wrote to the beat there”.
By my understanding, and looking at Cracker Mallo’s numerous influences, Saund is a mixture of so many things you can’t quite name it yet; it’s got to be from the future. A Friendly Introduction To Saund is a fitting title for the project that guides you through Mallo’s mind in musical form.
A Friendly Introduction to Saund is available on all streaming platforms now!