CH teen's music is attracting national attention

Fox 8 Cleveland's Wayne Dawson (from left) interviewing Heights senior Brycen Hunt and Malcolm White. [photo by Lisa Hunt]

Malcolm White is only 15 years old, but he is already attracting the attention of some major figures in the music world. White, who lives in Cleveland Heights, is a singer who uses the name Malcupnext. His first single, “This Feeling,” is available on iTunes and Spotify, and the video for the song, which was filmed at Heights High, has been aired on MTV.

White said he has been singing since he was a toddler. “I started singing in church,” he said. “Then I started joining the choirs in school. I always listened to a lot of music, and I was really into R&B and gospel. When I was 13, I started listening to more pop and hip-hop.” When he was five years old, White got involved with the Heights Youth Theatre. The first play he appeared in was "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and when he was 11 years old, he starred in "The Wiz."

His music and videos are on his website,, and on Instagram and Twitter. Earlier this year, Big Boi—the rapper, songwriter and record producer who is perhaps best-known for his work with the band Outkast—saw White on the Internet and contacted him. Big Boi flew White down to Atlanta this summer, and they recorded seven songs. He then signed White to his new label, Camp Purple, making him the first artist signed to the label.  

"It's a feel-good song," Big Boi said about “This Feeling” in a story about White that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. "It reminds me of a young Michael Jackson or New Edition. There aren't any kid artists that are being kids that are really soulful. Everybody wants to be grown. Everything doesn't have to be raunchy or too adult. We want his music to reflect the adolescent stage that he's going through right now."

White’s second single, “I Got a Lot of It,” is due to be released before the end of the year. He and Big Boi hope to complete an album soon, as well.

Vibe magazine has also published an article about White. He has appeared on two local television stations, Fox 8 and WKYC, and his music can be heard on the local radio station Z 107.9-FM.

“All of this happened accidentally,” White’s mother, Jamie White, said. “We weren’t trying to promote him. But the videos on the Internet went viral, and suddenly everyone was approaching us.” White has 203,000 followers on Instagram and 37,000 followers on Twitter.

White has also been making more and more live appearances. This past Labor Day weekend, he performed at the Summer Jam at Quicken Loans Arena. He also sang the national anthem at a Cleveland Gladiators game at the Q. And he is scheduled to sing the national anthem, as well as one of his own songs, at the third-annual Cleveland Rocks New Year’s Eve Celebration, which will be held at Public Auditorium.

White is being home-schooled, but is involved in several programs at Heights High, including those of the Vocal Music Department. How does he feel about Cleveland Heights? “I love the city,” he said, “and I look forward to performing live on New Year’s Eve.” He loves the fact that he has been able to accomplish so much in his life, and said, “I want teens to reach for their dreams and be up next in whatever they want to do—sing, act, play sports, whatever.”

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley. He is on the board of FutureHeights, and is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 9:39 AM, 12.01.2015