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Malcolm London and Dally Auston talk music and activism

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DePaul had some buzzing Chicago hip-hop artists stop by their college radio station on Jan. 14.

The second week of the winter quarter ended with Malcolm London and Dally Auston paying the campus a visit — not off to a bad start. Both being two artists from Chicago, their fanbase is already huge in the city and is currently growing beyond the city’s limits.

Although they both rep the group SaveMoney, which includes artists like Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, the group also has a second wave of rappers ready to push their talent beyond the Midwest.

Every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Radio DePaul is filled with hip-hop, pop culture and entertainment. Led by graduate student Adan Figueroa, “The Fifth Element Hip Hop Show” has had big names like Mick Jenkins, Towkio and Saba.

Dally Auston’s first visit to the DePaul radio was back in 2014 and now he was back to discuss his up-and-coming album, “Roses,” which is set to release Jan 20.

Malcolm London who is a prominent activist in the city in addition to him being a musician kicked off DePaul’s hip-hop radio show with his interview. With a new Billboard produced documentary out and his first mixtape released at the end of last year, his new year was off to a busy start.

How does it feel to release your first mixtape?

Malcolm London: It feels surreal, it feels good though. What’s crazy is it feels like a long time ago but it was only three months ago but I’ve been so thirsty and ready for 2017 and in the studio everyday. The reception has been good, we hit Billboard and were in the centerfold of that.

“Opia” (the title of his mixtape), it means the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eyes and you can feel both invasive and vulnerable, and hopefully folks have been able to see who I am and can look me in my eyes by listening to the project.

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Chicago native Malcolm London released his first mixtape, “Opia,” at the end of 2016. (Photo courtesy of DNA INFO)

What type of creative direction were you really aiming for with this project?

M.L.: I’m an organizer and an activist and I have some type of history, so I think people expected a certain kind of music from me and I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to make revolutionary hip-hop off top, I really wanted to show people the versatility.

What are some of your personal highlights of 2016?

M.L.: Definitely the release show at Chop Shop, we practically sold it out — it was beautiful.

When did your activism begin?

M.L.: I guess my activism began with a rebellious spirit. Ultimately, I understood that high school, or the institution, was messed up to say the least. For me it was being outside the system and the regular narratives. I grew up in the West Side and went to Lincoln Park High School down the street. Seeing the differences in the neighborhood and seeing the resources distributed unequally, you become rebellious and become like ‘what’s the point?’ I wanted to make enough money and do enough things to change where I came from.

How did you first get into music?

Dally Auston: My junior year in high school, I was really getting into listening to my teachers around that time and getting into really what I wanted to do with myself. At this time, I was really into poetry and writing, so at this time I was really into the arts in general. I just kept writing and stumbled into recording.

Was there any specific person you looked at and wanted to create music like that?

D.A: I just knew I wanted to do something different. I just knew that’s how I had to come at it. My junior year of high school I just wanted to be honest in music and then I started being vulnerable in my music and I started living and I was able to tell that. Where I’m from definitely sparked that. I had a voice.

You have a particular voice, what do you feel distinguishes you from everyone else?

D.A.: I don’t know, it’s very authentic. I know that I’m different, but my friends would say I would write a certain way or I wouldn’t necessarily be rhyming, but it would still be pleasing to the ear. I just didn’t try to follow no line of no particular things.

The name, “Roses,” is there any significance?

D.A.: Yeah, my first tattoo was a rose. The last time I was here in 2014 I said that and planted that seed and I’ve just been watering that seed. I was my own rehab and I was lost but, I was able to see the beauty in things.

The Fifth Element Hip Hop Show is every Saturday from noon- 3 p.m. at radio.

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