Malci Credit: Remsy Atassi

In 2017, Chicago rapper-producer Malci dropped his impressive third album, Do You Know Yourself, smoothing cacophonous shards of samples into outre-pop songs with an oddball charm. Malci has plenty of comrades in the local scene, some of whom he’s turned into collaborators too: he produced almost half of Mykele Deville’s February record, Maintain, and he appears on Ruby Watson’s April album, Balance, on the group cut “Royalty” (along with MVK3R, Rich Jones, Davis of Udababy, Rahim Salaam of Sex No Babies, and Watson’s Free Snacks collaborator, Joshua Virtue). In early May, Why? Records (Watson, Davis, and Virtue’s label-slash-collective) put out Malci’s fourth album, Papaya! But while Malci has proved he can play well with others, his solo work remains anomalous—though I wish more rappers would follow his lead and blur together noise rap, spiritual jazz, and verbose verses packed with mundane ruminations and deeply personal confessions. The album’s song titles help contextualize Malci’s music: some name-check boundary-pushing artists (“Marina Abramović,” “Stan Getz”), while others seem like references to contemporary acts who might be his distant cousins (“Money Store” shares its name with a Death Grips album, and “Anxiety Raps” is part of the title of an Open Mike Eagle track). For Papaya!, Malci leans less on samples and more on analog synths and field recordings, creating a less-hectic aesthetic overall—but his music still feels like it could take a thrillingly bizarre turn at any moment.   v