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Hear Oakland Rapper Mahawam

Courtesy of Mahawan/ Malik Mays

The music of Malik Mays, who performs as Mahawam, is “about resilience, it's about power, it's about beauty, it's about sex,” they told Out in the Bay.

Mays grew up between Arizona and Texas with a single mother.  In their early twenties they settled in Oakland, where they’ve lived since 2013. Like many in the Bay, Mays shares living space with six other people, including their partner. 

There’s a chicken coop in the backyard and a garden where Mays grows mugwort. “I got it because I wanted to try to be a psychonaut and kick up my dreamspace,” they said. “It’s supposed to induce vivid dreams if you make a tea of it, but ... apparently ingesting large enough quantities can be dangerous.”

Mays released their first EP, Is An Island, two years ago, giving them the confidence to take their artistry to the next level and embrace aspects of their personality they had rejected. Previously, “wanting to be recognized as good took precedence over wanting to be recognized,” they said. “You weren’t seeing my queerness, my queer nature, you weren’t seeing the comedy, you weren’t seeing Blackness.”

The intersection which Mays lives makes their work inherently political, but they say they “also just want to be a dope rapper.”

Hear Mahawan’s music and about their next project and more on this week’s Out in the Bay. You can watch one of Mahawan’s artistic music videos on YouTube (and hear and read the lyrics we couldn’t broadcast on terrestrial radio).

Year-end request: Out in the Bay is an indepedent production. Please help us keep bringing LGBTQ news, voices and stories to the world by making a tax-deductible donation to Out in the Bay now. We've been pledged $2,000 from an anonymous donor who will fork over the $2k if we get that much from other donors by December 31. Please click one of the links in this paragraph or on any donate tab on Out in the Bay's website, OutintheBay.org. Thank you!