Malcolm Three McDaniel
By Kevin Zimmerman
Malcolm “Three” McDaniel : A New Kind Of Soul
Escaping the gangs and drug scenes of Houston … losing a record deal nearly as soon he got it … busting up his parents’ furniture … it’s been a sometimes daunting ride for young rapper/singer Malcolm “Three” McDaniel, but he maintains a sunny outlook on his career, confident that his undeniable skills and connections will win out soon enough.
“A lot of people seem to really like what I’m doing,” he remarks. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it, trying to keep coming up with something that’s fun, energetic, new and different. What I’m working on now is a new kind of soul.”
That broken furniture came when he was growing up, using broken hangers to bang on chairs, buckets and anything else that came to hand in an effort to replicate the beats he heard on his parents’ Earth, Wind & Fire and Isley Brothers records; in fact, the Isleys’ “For the Love of You” formed the background of his first recorded rap at the age of nine.
He kept making strides with his technique in his bedroom until an opportune moment at a junior-high party, when he convinced the deejay to let him freestyle over an instrumental.
Numerous appearances at open-mic nights helped him hone his craft and, along with a burgeoning football career that saw him through college, offered an escape from the nefarious elements of inner city Houston life. “It helped keep me away from crowds like that after school,” he says, “even though I eventually dropped football to make music.”
Relocating to L.A., he eventually drew the attention of Jonathan Yip, of R&B/hip hop/dance production team Stereotypes, and was signed to Def Jam, only to have his debut disc dropped during one of the label’s staff shufflings. However, none of them were ready to quit, and along with Yip and fellow Stereotypes Jeremy Reeves and Ray Romulus, Three started the group JON MCXRO (pronounced “John McEnroe”). After producing several mixtapes and singles, heavily featuring Three’s punchy lyrics, the group is now on hiatus, with Three now concentrating on another solo effort.
“I just keep going,” Three laughs. “The plan is to release something pretty soon, maybe a couple of EPs and videos, and see where that takes me.”