Beginnings in North Philly and "Luv is Rage"
Maaly grew up on Southern rap and took a special interest in the producers who now stand as the forefathers of trap -- Zay and also guys like Lex Luger and Drumma Boy. The music resonated with him not for the lyrics but because of the production, often the more important element in bringing a trap song to life. "When I listen to a song, I listen to the beat," says Maaly. "If the beat's not hot, I probably won't like the song."
He was introduced to beat making by his cousin B-Jones, a veteran producer in Philly. He'd long been fascinated at the sounds coming out of his cousin's computer, and one day, Maaly decided that he wanted to learn Fruity Loops for himself. He claims that he was able to get a handle on the basics of the software in two minutes. "Ever since then, I never stopped," he says. "Literally, two minutes. I basically taught myself."
That was when he was 17 and by the next year, he landed a beat with a locally esteemed street rapper named Quilly Millz. "That's what started me off, getting on his mixtape," he says, referring to HSH V, which also featured Philly talent like Kur and Redi-Roc. "Back then a placement with Quilly was pretty big, for Philly."
After his first placement, Maaly hit the ground running, eager to become the go-to producer for the most promising artists his city had to offer. Basically unknown at the time, Lil Uzi Vert was managed by the fiancé of the renowned DJ Diamond Kuts, who gave him his first look by playing him on Philly's Power 99. At first, Maaly thought Uzi was from the South, and upon discovering that he was a local, he decided that his own Southern-inspired productions would be a good match for Uzi's decidedly innovative approach to trap.
Before Uzi, Maaly was able to link with the aforementioned Uptown rapper Kur, who's just now getting his due recognition. As luck would have it, Maaly would soon find out that Kur had recruited Uzi to guest on a song that he produced, entitled "I Don't Give a Fuck." Both Kur and Uzi were teenagers at the time, and both rapped with a bracing sense of abandon, clearly a result of their impoverished surroundings.
With his music, Maaly seeks to bring the energy that has always lived in the Philly streets into a sonic world fit for the IMAX. He would soon find that Uzi shared in his adventurous visions, and the two have since created otherworldly music that somehow never forgets its street-level birthplace.
After hearing Uzi on his beat, Maaly asked his manager, also from North Philly, to put them in touch. This was when Uzi had been working on his breakout mixtape, The Real Uzi, hosted by Don Cannon. Maaly ended up producing 5 of the final 7 tracks that appeared on the tape, which touched down in the late summer of 2014. A lot has happened in the two years that have since passed. "It seems like just yesterday I was picking him up from the projects in North Philly, taking him to the studio," Maaly reminisces. "Back and forth to his grandma house. It’s crazy, now he just sellin' out shows everywhere."
After The Real Uzi, Maaly watched as Cannon brought Uzi to DJ Drama and signed him to their Generation Now label, which they started along with acclaimed engineer Leighton Morrison. Another deal was soon inked with Atlantic Records. Uzi went on to become a buzzing name in certain taste-making circles before much was known about his music. He officially solidified his presence in the game when he got put on Carnage's "WDYW," responsible for the opening verse and the hook on the monstrous anthem that also features A$AP Ferg and Rich the Kid. And he officially blew up with his Luv is Rage mixtape, released in October of last year -- the source of immediate clamor throughout the industry.
He got less placements on Luv is Rage than he did on The Real Uzi, competing with Atlanta stars like Sonny Digital, FKi, and TM88, but Maaly's two songs were among the biggest on the tape. He set the tone of the project -- strange, dangerous, and intoxicating -- with the intro track, "Safe House," which features additional production from Cannon. Maaly makes a flute melody dance around crushing layers of techno synths, executing a blend of sounds both playful and threatening, much like Uzi's flow itself. Later on the tape, Maaly dropped off another beat, "Enemies," that's brimming with similar machine-driven intensity, featuring careful builds that climax with quick floods of racecar-like synths, eliciting goosebumps each time.