By Sarah Montez —
Deep down, Malice always knew that staying in his platinum-selling worldly music group would lead to his demise.
But Malice (his real name is Gene Elliott Thorton Jr.) found a new reason to live in 2012. He changed his stage name to No Malice and gave up millions of dollars. Today his career, which hasn’t seen much light since, got a boost with a feature on Kanye West’s new album Jesus is King.
“I was just letting the wind carry me left, right, swing, either which way in my life,” No Malice said in a HipHopDX video.
“I wasn’t fulfilled. To have achieved the American Dream and still not be fulfilled only frustrated me more,” he told CBN. “I wasn’t having a good time. And when I did have a good time, it was only to find out afterwards, I was in more misery.”
Born in 1972 in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, No Malice was drawn to hip hop and R&B as a child. Unlike many kids in his neighborhood, his mother and father took him to church. Still, he managed to get into all kinds of trouble.
“Even with foundation and having a good head on your shoulders, you can still make some pretty decent mistakes,” he said.
He and his brother, who went under the stage name Pusha T, formed the group Clipse, which brass-knuckled its way into the rap game. At the time hip hop was just beginning to compete against pop with choruses and anthems, but Clipse broached untouchable topics, introducing a sub genre dubbed coke rap, filled with chilling hood depictions of trafficking and addiction.
It caused a sensation and opened new terrain for hip hop. Running and gunning, killing and cursing became the new trend. Lord Willin’ in 2002 debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop album. XXL gave its coveted and rare 5-star rating to their 2006 album Hell Hath No Fury. They toured and collaborated with all the top artists.
“Clipse blew my brain open in 2006,” wrote Nathan Slavik on DJBooth Net.
In 2009, when he hit the cusp of notoriety, riches and ever growing celebrity, No Malice suddenly pulled the plug and quit secular rap. How could he? How could he leave his brother, leave the fame, leave the riches, leave his fans?
“You can have it,” No Malice told DJ Vlad. He didn’t even let Vlad finish building the question. He cut him off with a tart reply that declared in no uncertain terms that he had no regrets and no remorse about leaving his former path.
“I knew that I had to get out of the group before I ended up dead or in jail,” No Malice explained.
Behind the veneer and trappings of renown, there was a sinner gripped with fear over his own mortality. The wild life of women, alcohol and drugs left him paranoid that he would contract AIDS.
At the same time, federal agents were circling like sharks because the raps about trafficking were based on reality. His manager got locked up for 34 years. One friend was coming out of the hospital after his wife had just given birth and was arrested. When his brother came late to a flight, No Malice thought he had been arrested. He wanted out.
While the world viewed him with envy, he saw his the condition of his soul as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked,” to the extent that he titled his autobiography with those very words.
He was drinking and getting high in a cul-de-sac with a couple friends, one of whom was under house arrest when a lady drove up named Miss Alberta. She got out of the car and started to witness very earnestly to them about Jesus.
“We were definitely not trying to hear none of that,” he remembers. “This woman came out in the dark and saw three guys drinking, she could have been intimidated. But she was very bold and adamant. She relied very heavily on her faith. She didn’t see three dudes and be like, ‘Oh they’re never going to be nothing.’ No, she came and she took the time and gave us a life-changing message.”
You don’t have some other time! You might die tonight! she insisted. The Almighty is calling you now. Shall you not answer when God calls?
That night, three drunk guys clasped hands and prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts. No Malice followed up his prayer with more decisions to really live the born-again life.
“I changed my name from ‘Malice’ to ‘No Malice’ simply because everything that I read in the Bible was to do away with all malice,” he says. “I don’t have malice in my heart. It was time for that change. I was absolutely born-again. I gave my life to Jesus Christ. There’s no other way I can say it.”
He dropped out of Clipse and produced a Christian album in 2010 called Hear Ye Him. He collaborated with Lecrae on Church Clothes in 2012 and then dropped Let the Dead Bury the Dead in 2017.
Then Kanye featured him and Pusha T on his song “Use the Gospel for Protection.”
No Malice doesn’t make nearly as much money now that he’s not pushing thug life, but he has a clear conscience.
“How many people went to jail because of things I said? How many times people got pulled over and went jail while my record was playing in the car. Think about how many times somebody head was blown out, and my music was playing. You create that vibe. It’s that old question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?”
Read about other Christian hip hop artists by clicking: 1K Phew – Aaron Cole — Ada Betsabé – Andy Mineo – Benjamin Broadway — Bizzle – Canon – Cass – Datin – Flame – Gawvi – HeeSun Lee – Jackie Hill-Perry – Jarry Manna — JGivens – Joey Vantes — John Givez – KB – Lecrae – Lil T Tyler Brasel– MC Jin – NF – nobigdyl. – Propaganda – Ray Emmanuel – Ruslan – Sevin – S.O. — Social Club Misfits – Steven Malcolm – Tedashii – Tobe Nwigwe – Trip Lee – Wande Isola – WhatUpRG — YB
And an overview article about the state of affairs in CHH: Christian Hip Hop in Controversy.
Sarah Montez studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.