Rising from the South of Dublin is young Hugh Mulligan who has been busy making waves under the moniker Malaki for well over a year now.

Finding the words to express his frustration seems to come effortlessly to Hugh, as he explores topics most speak of with bated breath. The frailty of masculinity is dissected effortlessly throughout ‘Chrysalis’, with bar fights and reliance on anti-depressants just some of the topics that the 21 year old manages to wade through. 

A single piano note grows to a synth-driven masterpiece on opener Paper Prophecies, as Hugh speaks of the subject of the song being “19, gave his mind to the Sertraline, chasing dreams in a magazine, it seems he’s just craving that evergreen.”

These kind of deliveries are prevalent throughout the entire album, touching on topics like toxic masculinity and outright escapism from dark corners of the human mind.  Cavalier, featuring Dublin rapper Jeorge II, kicks off with a bar fight.

Two quick-tempered men scrap over very little as one character speaks of the desire he has within to make himself seem hard-shelled to everyone around him while inside, he is the farthest thing from it. An ecclesiastical opening sees Hugh shows off his rapping chops while the guest vocals of Lucy McWilliams act in stark contrast to the aggression shown by the two men. 

Another major selling point is the other half of Malaki, Matthew Harris. The talented musician and producer brings the glue to stick everything together, as well as lending vocals on tracks that elevate them to another plane entirely.

In Cuppa Tea, Hugh’s rapping on the verses dissolves into Matthew’s soft vocals for the chorus and the infectious hook of “All of the days and the changes they go too fast // all the faces and places through the hourglass // And chances, romances in a distant land// well how we gonna get there? We’ve got blood on our hands”.

Chrysalis proves itself to be a cognisant collection of reflections on a country that in many ways, is failing its youth. Malaki weaves these narratives through well-thought out beats and a myriad of expressions to create eleven tracks that tick a lot of boxes. And with new music from the young man just over the horizon, there’ll be even more to look forward to soon.

Read out Plec Picks 2021 interview with Malaki here