Brian Malik Baptiste, known just as “Malik,” is a 2014 graduate of Leander High School and a budding musician known for his proficient sound layering ability.
Baptiste was in the process of making his own debut album — which will be released in 2019 — when he got a call from Tommy Brown, a producer for pop sensation Ariana Grande. Baptiste was in Los Angeles at the time and was invited to put together a sample for Grande’s new song “Better Off.” The vocal and keyboard tracks had already been placed so Baptiste layered drum and bass sounds into the song to bring it all together.
"I was at the house and she was actually upstairs recording it," said Baptiste. "I was downstairs putting stuff together. It took about an hour or two. Tommy played it for her and she loved it. So, it’s on the album now.'"
Baptiste said he couldn’t believe he had made the album until he had a copy in hand.
“Man, when he first said that she loved the song, I was so excited,” Baptiste smiled. “I said you know what, let me wait. Let me wait until it comes out. I have a reputation of counting my chickens before they hatch so once I got that physical copy and saw my name, I was just like wow this is crazy!”
Grande's album "Sweetener" debuted in Aug. at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Baptiste said he was inspired to pursue music at an early age.
“I got into music really young,” he recalled. “I remember walking around Walmart with my mom at Christmastime and I saw a guitar. As a kid, I kind of just wanted random toys and seeing that guitar, I knew I wanted that. After I got it that Christmas, I immediately fell in love with making music. That became my outlet. Throughout the years, I’ve just continued to work on songwriting and progression.”
Baptiste has been working on his debut album for about a year and a half. As a musician from a smaller town, Baptiste said that his perception of music and his world had changed from the experience.
“It was very eye-opening,” Baptiste said. “When I was little, I always wanted to move to a really, really big city, like New York or Los Angeles. Seeing what it’s like and looking at things I value, it’s like, maybe not. I love nature and going for walks and hikes. Being in the middle of a big city, you don’t get a lot of that. In Austin though, the nature is pretty integral. I think it’s a really good balance for me, living in Austin.”
Baptiste said that opportunities like this don’t come easy and he utilized hard work and determination to get where he is.
“I think it takes immense faith in yourself, dedication and knowing how to deal with people who don’t believe in you,” Baptiste said. “You’re going to get way more no’s before you get a yes. You shouldn’t live by the affirmation of other people. I would put my whole heart and soul into a project and then feel like people didn’t listen to it and that my career was going stagnant even though my music was growing. Getting through those moments of I don’t know if this is going to happen is key. You have to keep going because, at the end of the day, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one’s going to believe in you.”
In addition to Grande, Baptiste also worked on music with Mac Miller before his death in September.
“It was amazing to be able to work with him,” said Baptiste. “When he passed away, I did not believe it. He had contacted me on Twitter that morning asking for some beats. It was just so unexpected.”
Baptiste said he has plans to work with Grande again in the future along with other artists.
For his debut album, Baptiste was influenced by Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino.
“It’s a blend of all of those artists,” said Baptiste. “I plan for it to come out in a year from now.”
Follow Baptiste’s work on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/malikcreates.