Jessi Malay, a talented, passionate urban-pop singer and dancer from Los Angeles, may be a newcomer to most, but she’s actually a veteran performer who began dancing at 2, joined a professional ballet company at 6, started singing at 9, entertained the crowds at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, at 12, had a hit single with her all-female teen-pop group No Secrets by 14, and now, at 19, is recording tracks for her solo debut album (title TBD) on Reprise Records.
Having spent one’s entire life in front of an audience, it can be trying to keep one’s composure amidst the chaos. Luckily, Malay has found the balance between the stage and self – to demand respect and never settle on one’s integrity. Think Janet Jackson, one of Malay’s favorites, circa “That’s the Way Love Goes” – confident, sexy, and while we’re at it, thoroughly in control. "Janet is a female artist who has gotten the message out that you can be a commanding woman without losing your femininity and sexuality," Malay says. You can have both.
That empowering message is boldly conveyed on the songs Malay is currently recording for her album. For example, the anthemic song, "King," is a potent response to male bravado. Check this for the opening verse to “King”: “How strange your life would be / If you were on your knees / If I was your lord and you called me Majesty / Next, if I took off all your clothes / would you feel just like a ho? / Standing oh so naked there in front of me.” Then, Malay delivers the defiant kiss-off: “Repeat after me: I am king / Kiss my ring!”
On another, the flirty “Topsy-Turvy,” Malay warns her male listeners that girls can be moody but, "this is how we are, so take it or leave it," she says. She switches gears on "The Whole 9," proving her versatility with a love-struck ballad that encourages girls to hold out for a guy who treats her right. Then there’s the mesmerizing, naughty club track "Hypnotiq," which Malay describes as a guilty pleasure. "Girls want to be taken seriously," she says, "but they also want a night out where they can have fun and get crazy."
Malay, who works a playfully provocative blend of sultry R&B vocal stylings, hip-hop edginess, and indelible pop smarts, delivers a club-friendly single "Gimme" featuring Lil Scrappy. "Gimme," co-written with Malay and Jonathan "JR" Rotem (Rihanna, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg), blends classic R&B pop styles with the fresh beats and sounds from one of today’s hottest young producing talents. She also brought on Mateo Laboriel (Jamie Foxx), “Jay E” Epperson (Nelly), and Stiles of Dangerous, LLC (50 Cent) to round out the sound. "Today’s music appreciates the songs of yesterday but incorporates a modern day flavor. I love that about music right now," Malay insists. For old school inspiration, Malay collaborated with legendary hit-makers Bruce Roberts and Andy Goldmark — who have written and produced for such mega artists as Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, The Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.
For Malay, who helped co-write four of the current tracks, it has been a whirlwind of writing and recording. Adding more heat to the debut, the release features guest appearances by such fresh new talents as Trey Songz, and East Coast rapper Gravy. One of her main focuses now is rehearsing for her live show with choreographer Mikey Minden (Pussycat Dolls). "I think people will get what I do when they see me perform," says Malay of her live show. "It’s a really good balance of smooth, urban hip-hop choreography and seductive, authoritative moves that suit me really well. I want people to get that strong female message from me, but I also want them to have fun with my music." Get ready for Jessi Malay, coming soon.
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