Hip hop artist Malik Gita survived 9/11, the US army and the Navy Seals – and now he’s stormed onto the South African music scene.
Malik was born in Cape Town, but moved to America with his mom in the early 1990s.
“I was actually at Fairview Primary School with (SA cricketer) JP Duminy. We played on the same school cricket team, maybe if I stayed I’d also be a sportsman today,” he jokes.
The former soldier turned musician’s latest single is called Kullablind, a hard-hitting track about race aimed at coloured people.
Malik, who is in his early thirties, admits that the USA was a culture shock for him, and the only way he survived was through music.
“My mom was a nurse, so she worked hard, and when we were in California I was also helping to raise my brother,” he explains.
“I went to a thrift store and bought a tape deck and then soon after that my mom bought me a boom box for my birthday, and I would record the songs from the boom box on my tape deck and make my own tracks.”
He nearly became a drug and crime statistic in the States, but then that fateful day came on September 11, 2001.
Malik says seeing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre collapse was a turning point for him.
“When 9/11 happened, I thought that I would either be dead or in jail soon, so I thought I would strip myself of my freedom before a judge or a bullet did,” he says
He signed up for the US Marine Corps and ended up serving six years in the armed services.
“I wasn’t the toughest or the baddest, but I held my own… I have been to 22 different countries and I don’t regret it. It was an ego check and I went there to lose my ego,” he says.
He says the local hip hop scene puzzles him.
“I speak to the hip hop guys and they sound like they’re from New York and they’ve never even left South Africa. They hold a foreign culture more dear than home,” he explains.
He says his song Kullablind aims to empower bruin mense.
The track begins with the anti-apartheid anthem Senzeni Na, followed by lyrics like: “It’s your hate that builds till you become Kullablind. The colours will blind your mind, you’re trying to control my mind with your colour lines.”
Malik adds: “My problem is, the coloured community have been told for so long we don’t have a culture and we’re misfits. All the culture is our culture.”
Get your free Kullablind download here.