Hip-hop undergoes a renaissance. Right now, the place is The Bronx. This time, the voice belongs to Maliibu Miitch. Wielding rhymes sharp enough for close quarters combat, sporting uncompromising attitude, and holding absolutely nothing back, the MC challenges the game to move forward by recharging the very art of rap itself. Within seven years of first picking up a mic, she went from battling on neighborhood corners to prompting Pitchfork to ponder, “Is Maliibu Mitch NYC’s best new rapper?”

So, is she?

“I’m just blunt and in-your-face,” answers the artist. “My bars come from me venting. I’ve been through so much and seen so much that I just talk about it. It’s basically my point-of-view. I feel like our culture is getting diluted from a lot of fuck shit. I want to bring it back to real rappers who write their own shit and keep trying no matter what obstacles they face.”

She most definitely overcame her fair share of obstacles and put in the time to reach this point. Born to a Vietnamese and Filipino father and African-American mother in North Carolina, the family moved to New York by the time our heroine turned three.

As the marriage disintegrated in a haze of violence and “things we should’ve never seen,” trouble followed her at school with regular fights and physical confrontations as her mother struggled to make ends meet on Section 8. At 14-years-old, mom shipped Maliibu off to North Carolina to live with dad. Dropping out of high school, she went from “modeling” to “selling drugs” to “being in a gang” to finding her true calling in 2011.

“Rap was a way out,” she admits. “Finally, I didn’t have to do anything crazy. I didn’t have to constantly watch my back every second. I reapplied what I learned in the streets to how I move and strategize everything. The Bronx prepared me for my career.”

Inspired by 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, and Jadakiss, she began uploading music online and stirring up a buzz. After splitting from a high-profile production deal, she recorded under a major label contract in Los Angeles before taking a two-year-break. 2017 saw her drop the breakout mixtape Maliibu Miitch Top 5. As she unleashed the one-two punch of original singles “4 AM” and “The Count,” the spitter notched acclaim from Paper, The Fader, XXL, Complex, Pitchfork, and Hypebeast who claimed, “Maliibu Miitch is the realest rapper in the game right now.” Revolt aired a doc on her as shout outs came from K. Michelle and Nicki herself.

Along the way, she signed to Atlantic Records and readied her 2018 mixtape, The Count.

“It’s a countdown to when I blow up,” she grins. “I’ve been putting out projects and music for so fucking long that it was all just steps for me. I’m getting closer.”

You can hear it on the first single “Give Her Some Money.” Airy production gives way to brash bars and wound-up wordplay that climax on an unshakable and empowering chant.

“It’s about women going out there and getting money,” she exclaims. “No matter how you grab your money, just do it. Don’t wait for a guy to back your dreams up. Back your paycheck up for you. I don’t wait on a motherfucker to do anything. Being a gold digger got glorified these days. Fuck that. Be an independent woman. I’m taking the word ‘Head’ back too. It means you got a good head on your shoulders and go after that money, girl.”

“Do Something” [feat. Jeremih] tempers a throwback beat with a sizzling and spirited lyrical flurry between a hypnotic hook. “My old rappers from back in the day taught you something,” she says. “That’s why we still listen to their music. This is for the new generation. I’m schooling them. I want you to still be able to play my shit three, five, or ten years from today. It’s old school and today.”

“Keys” captures that New York state of mind, while Wiz Khalifa drops by “Nice & Slow,” which she qualifies as “a gangsta love song.” Ultimately, Maliibu Miitch’s movement is officially underway.

“I’m not going to quit until I move the fucking culture and start a lifestyle of people who aren’t taking shit,” she leaves off. “The door got closed in my face so many times, but I didn’t give up. You don’t have to either. Never stop trying. I hope you feel that from my music.”