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  • Writer's pictureEvan

A Talk with Rome Mallory

Fresh off the success of Winner Circle, North Carolina’s Rome Mallory is already setting up for the release of his next album. Teasing his first solo project of the year – The Breakthrough 2 – the MC is looking to break away from his signature style with some his most daring material yet.

After collaborating with Larrin for Eclectic Soule, Perseo for Brave New World, and most recently Numbz for Winner Circle, Mallory is ready to handle the reins himself for his next album, The Breakthrough 2. “That’s a monster project,” he said. “This one is 100% curated by me, bringing in different producers and different features.”

In full control of his artistic vision, Mallory intends to make The Breakthrough 2 one of his most vulnerable efforts yet. Acting as a sequel to The Breakthrough, he explained the choice to continue the series: “Breakthrough 1 is, for me, breaking through to a different level, musically and in my personal life. I feel like Breakthrough 2 is similar, in terms of breaking through to a different version of me. A different version musically, especially with how long I’ve been doing it and the traction I’m getting, still being a student and trying to sharpen my sword.”

 He went on: “It’s a personal album …  I’m talking about family and things like that; people are going to learn a little bit more about me. It’s one thing to get the rhymes off and the bars off, but it’s another to be an artist and peel some layers back.”

Teasing a more avant-garde sound to his usual, soulful style, Mallory is certain that The Breakthrough 2 will appeal to new and old fans alike. “There’s so many ways I could go with it. I’m debating whether I should make it a double album, or if it should be separate projects, since I’ve got so many songs for it. It’s going to be coming first quarter, early second quarter.”

Although no tracklist has been released, the MC has been teasing collaborations since work on the project began. Speaking on features for the upcoming album, he said: “Big shoutout to A.P. Da Overlord, Aaqil Ali, Numbz, Thought Provokah. That’s a lot – I don’t want to let all the cats out the bag, but if you’re tapped into the underground, you already know.”

Careful not to spoil too much, Mallory was less reserved about his latest effort, Winner Circle. A full collaboration with rapper-producer Numbz, the album marks their second project together, following And the Winner Is last year. The MC spoke on their dynamic as a duo:

“He’s a similar style in terms of boom bap, soul samples, and all that. We reached out, made a few tracks, and the chemistry was there. Real recognise real … It’s one thing to be a talented artist; it’s another to be a genuine person in real life. We just clicked – we have great chemistry musically, so we decided to do an album, and it’s been in the works for a while.”

Across both collaborations, Mallory has delivered some of his most motivational and passionate verses to date. Reflecting on his positive outlook, he said: “Living my life, I’ve been through a lot of tragedy and a lot of triumph, and music is really a soundtrack to it. Everything I put in my music is me, day to day. The people around me, and all the stories that people who aren’t here can’t tell, that passed on. The people who are here but don’t got a voice to tell them. All of that is a reflection of me – my life and times. I want to put that into the music. I think it can be used as a tool to reach people and touch their soul.

“It’s a peek into my mentality, my perspective. You’ve got to have a winner’s mindset; the cup has got to be half-full, it can’t be half-empty. You can’t have a victim mentality. Taking responsibility for where you’re at and where you want to go. It’s affirmations as well – I put that out there for myself, and people can relate to it.”

Beyond Winner Circle, the MC has a host of collaborations in the works, with various projects planned for 2024. Teasing Eclectic Soule 2 with Larrin and an EP with producer Blank Thought among others, Mallory also hinted at a more ambitious collaborative record. “I’ve got a project called One Nation. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it’s really going to bring the underground together and highlight some of the best artists in the underground of this generation. I’m excited about that.”

After collaborating on And the Winner Is and again on The Breakthrough 2, Mallory is ready to link up with rapper Thought Provokah for a full EP later this year. “The thing about Thought, you listen to his project and it sounds like a movie, man. It’s one thing to rap but it’s another to paint a picture, so that’s the type of vibe that we’re going to cook up.”

With multiple collaborations on the way, an exciting solo record in the works, and the promise of physical merch coming soon, 2024 is looking to be Mallory’s biggest year yet. Having spent years honing his craft, the MC is satisfied with his rising status in the underground. “I’ve been putting a lot of work in. I’ve been doing music for a minute. Just putting out mixtapes at gas stations and performing at open mics when there was barely anybody there to having fans an supporters in 61 countries. I’m not Jay-Z, but for someone that started ciphering in the hood, around the way, where I’m at, it’s a blessing.”

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