When Money Malc was still swaddled in diapers, his mom kept him quiet by placing the radio in the crib. Now he's grown up, a big man who sports even bigger T-shirts, and after a lifetime of displaying an uncanny ability to memorize lyrics, he decided it was time to write some lyrics of his own.
He spent his savings on recording and pressing CDs, and made the rounds, handing them out at every block party and club in his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey. And after dispensing about 9000 of them, Malc began getting gigs. He opened for Ja Rule, Memphis Bleek, and Jadakiss. Fans knew his name all over Jersey, and soon in Brooklyn and Queens too. But Malc's most important fan was not a big-name rapper or a big-city tycoon. The fan who turned out to matter most was his barber.
Jason Amado, who quit New Jersey a couple of years ago and moved to Miami, went from shaving Money Malc's head to shaving Dwyane Wade's. And when Wade decided he wanted to invest his newly acquired wealth in a record label, Amado introduced him to his old client from Jersey. Now Malc will be the first artist featured on Wade's new label, M3Z Entertainment, which the basketball star founded with 24-year-old Marcus Andrews; the two have been best friends since they were in the fourth grade. Malc's album is still in progress, but his single "Where Your 22's At?" a drawled but bouncy ode to Cadillac rims, made its debut at a Heat game.
Money Malc is polite in person and versatile in sound. He says his first album will have a little bit of everything: "It's a roller coaster. Fun joints, tearjerkers, songs for the ladies."
Wade and Andrews were working with some other artists in Chicago when the barber's introduction to Malc altered their focus. "He made me believe in his craft," says Andrews, who multitasks conversation and text-messaging. "Some artists can't even come up with the hook ... Malc's an East Coast rapper who sounds good on a Down South track."
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Launching record labels has become something of an NBA hobby: Ron Artest (Tru Warier), Lamar Odom (Rich Soil), Shaq (Twism), Alan Iverson (Cru Thik), and Carmelo Anthony (Cross Over) are among players to undertake the endeavor. As of yet, none has rivaled the chart-topping success of moguls like Jay-Z, but Andrews, Wade, and Malc are hopeful. M3Z Entertainment's name is shorthand for "money comes in threes."
"Because everything in my life is in threes," says Andrews. "I have three brothers. Me, Malc, and Dwyane make three. Dwyane is number three. He got his championship in his third year."
And maybe Money Malc will follow Trick Daddy and Rick Ross to become the third Miami rapper whose name everybody knows.