Interviewing Mala Rodriguez

Born in Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz, Spain), Maria made her first demo tape at 18.

Two years later, she made her debut as ‘Mala Rodriguez’ and forever changed the face of Spanish hip-hop with her smash hit “Yo Marco El Minuto”, by becoming the first female to gain scene-dominance in a male-dominated music genre.  

‘La Mala’ also won Best Urban Song for her single “No Pidas Perdon” at the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards and has formed part of line-ups that included artists such as Green Day, Jamiroquai, Kanye West, The Killers and Fatboy Slim.

The music video for her single in collaboration with Nelly Furtado, “Bajo Otra Luz”, set a record as the #1 Most Viewed Video Worldwide with 2.7 million views in its first week.

UPDATE from 30th March, 2018: The lyric video of her collaboration with Juan Magán, “USTED”, has garnered to date over 83 million views in YouTube.

SRM: Mala, born María Rodríguez on February 13. It’s clear that the number 13 hasn’t brought you any ‘bad (mala) luck’, though. Are you or have you ever been superstitious? What do you believe in at the most fundamental level?

MALA RODRIGUEZ: I’m not superstitious, I believe in the power of each person, in their personal effort and of course in luck, but we each seek our own.

SRM: Your lyrics, as well as poetic, have always been incisively clever and ruthless in their commentary. At what point did you realise that music, and especially your great talent for rapping, would be your ally and your weapon? In short, at what point does Maria become La Mala (The Bad One)? 

MALA RODRIGUEZ: When I was little I loved dancing, writing and doing all sorts of fun things with my family. We are many cousins ​​… but in my teens I found hip-hop and from there it was that I really wanted to share my thoughts, my ideas, my way of understanding the world with other people. At that moment is when La Mala started to gestate. 

SRM: Many of the great female hip-hop artists of the UK and US scenes agree that this is a musical genre in which there’s a general tendency toward some kind of misogyny. Have you suffered discrimination for being a woman doing hip-hop, and, if so, does massive success make things better or worse?

MALA RODRIGUEZ: In the field of hip-hop there is a lot of immaturity… but hey there’s also maturity! What is crazy is the patriarchy that dominates the planet, creating a tremendous imbalance for all. And there’s nothing greater than the symbol of the yin and yang and what it represents: complementing each other. We should let ourselves receive help, have a positive, open and receptive attitude, all female qualities that no doubt many of the men who inhabit the earth can develop and thus achieve a more complete sense of being.

Success gives you your freedom, your time. I want to know more about everything around me, reflect, take a more critical view of everything, with more consciousness; it all depends on what your concerns are.

SRM: In 2000, you sign with Universal and the album ‘Lujo Ibérico’ (Iberian Luxury) sees the light with hits like “Yo Marco el Minuto” (I Mark the Minute), which was included in the
2001 Spanish film Sex and Lucia.

However, your second album, ‘Alevosía’ (Treachery), sees you meeting, for the first time, with the censorship of Spanish television, which prohibited the broadcast of the video for the single “La Niña” (The Girl). As an artist and social activist, how did you live this kind of censorship? What reasons were given for this prohibition and how would you refute them at this point in time?

MALA RODRIGUEZ : It’s all part of the great moral hypocrisy of our world. “La Niña” (The Girl) revealed something so enormous, it had so much ‘weight’ that not even that kind of censorship could sink it and it didn’t. I appreciate everything that happens to me. Good or bad always leads me to the right place and with the education I need in every moment.

SRM: Those are wise words and a healthy attitude, indeed. In ‘Malamarismo’, launched in 2007, we can perceive a more pronounced experimentation with different types of sounds and rhythms which adds to the quality of the whole album. We also find a Mala concerned about domestic violence, an issue that, sadly, takes the headlines of everyday news. And a visionary Mala, too, by launching a message which, at the same time as being blunt, is also filled with hope. What do you think of what has been called ‘the Spanish Revolution’? Do you foresee a permanent change in consciousness taking place?

MALA RODRIGUEZ : Everyone should do what each should do. If the students of this generation don’t take over and make their voice heard no one else will. They are fighting a giant … Did we really believe that what we had here or in any other country was real democracy? Positive thinking is a major force that we should use to achieve that long awaited change by all of us. 

SRM: You’ve collaborated with 
many high-profile artists but perhaps the best known are Akon, Nelly Furtado and Julieta Venegas. Who is number one on your list of those with whom you wish to collaborate but have not yet had the opportunity to do so?

MALA RODRIGUEZ : I deeply admire Lauryn Hill. She would undoubtedly be the person with whom I’d love to share a rhythm and make a great song. All artists with whom I worked are wonderful and are great workers because success is not achieved any other way than with talent, hard work and discipline.

SRM : ‘Dirty Bailarina’ (Dirty Dancer), starts with the powerful “No Pidas Perdon” (Don’t Ask for Forgiveness) in which a sexier and more lethal than ever Mala shows us the dead end of a violence circle. What has made La Mala stronger on her path? What inspired this work and what single of those contained in the album better reflect your current mood?

MALA RODRIGUEZ : Dirty is my most ‘feminine’ album and I’ve poured everything in it. I have shown the kind of time I was living through and wanted to share everything that I felt with anyone listening … I show my emotions, my feelings, opinions, ideas, dreams… I transmit the force that fuels me to keep doing what I do. Definitely EVERYTHING inspires me: a conversation, a detail, a sunset, a time in the past, death, life … I’m working on a project that will soon see the light, is called the Train of the Witch…

SRM: Where are we going to find La Mala on tour soon, revolutionising her audience?

: Southern Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, enjoying the good vibe of the people who come to my concerts and building a bridge between my audience and I. And happy!!

That’s all wonderful to hear. Thank you very much for sharing your time and great talent with us!

MALA RODRIGUEZ : Thanks to you! I love you!