Chatter filled a large room as students slowly filled seats and awaited the day’s guest speaker. Deji Olusoga, a journalism senior, ran to the stage to calm everyone down and prepare them for the lecture. After a few more musical selections, played on a laptop, the music dimmed, and Olusoga introduced Malice to the audience.
Gene Elliot Thornton Jr., or Malice, half of the Virginia-based rap duo Clipse, spoke Monday at the Student Commons. The guest appearance was put on by VCU’s Student Hip Hop Organization (SHHO) as a lecture and discussion of Malice’s new book.
“Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked,” is an autobiographical account of Malice’s life, focusing on his years in the music industry. Although much of the book has Biblical references and discusses Malice’s newfound faith, the book is intended for all audiences.
After a successful career with his younger brother as Clipse, Malice took time off to find himself and find God. The book came out of that process.
“This book made me stop everything I was doing,” Malice said. “I had to get these thoughts out and share them.”
He said writing the book was a self-healing method, as well as a way to “repair the damage” he said the rap industry had done to his life. He took time off from rapping to write the book and tell outsiders about the other side of the music business that doesn’t involve the sex, drugs, money and materialism commonly associated with it.
“You don’t think about what you put into society,” Malice said. “But you have to think about what you release to more impressionable youth.”
He said that rappers become jaded and don’t realize how much their words affect and influence the youth who listen to it.
After three albums, multiple label and affiliation changes, and years of partying, Malice has recently dedicated his life to speaking to small groups of people about the changes he’s made. Although he’s not approaching his lectures and book signings as a preacher might, he does make his appreciation of God known.
Still, he never downplays the success his rap career has brought him. Hip hop organizations at several colleges brought him to their campuses to speak. Deji Olusoga, SHHO president and co-founder, said that Malice liked the book lecture at Old Dominion University for its SHHO chapter so much that he quickly agreed to do a similar lecture at VCU.
“I like how he ties his appreciation of God into what he’s talking about,” Olusoga said. “It lets people learn from his mistakes.”
Mia Burnside, a VCU SHHO member, was one of nearly 70 attendees at the event.
“I think we had a pretty decent turnout,” Burnside said. “I like the intimate crowd setting.”
Burnside, who said she is very religious, liked the book and presentation’s theme of “what’s done in the dark will eventually come to the light.” She appreciated Malice’s message and delivery. “It’s really positive that he acknowledges his role and purpose in life.”
He played the role of informer at the lecture as he gave information about his life and the book and answered questions during a Q-and-A session.
During the Q-and-A session, many of the questions related to his absence from Clipse and its effect on his younger brother, who goes by the stage name “Pusha T.” Malice said that he still does shows and can’t “divorce” his brother, but he has changed his content and venues.
He also had advice for aspiring artists: Know the business, and be good at what you do.