How three street-smart guys with no publishing experience, no money and no distribution launched a high-gloss magazine that's actually making it.
"At first," he says, "everything was all good. He came over, introduced himself and gave me a pound."
He gave Wayne a back issue of the magazine and the New Orleans rapper started flipping through it as the interview got started.
First topic: mixtapes.
"It made sense because we're a mixtape magazine and his dominance in mixtapes is unparalleled," Malo says.
But when Wayne turned a page of the magazine and saw a review of an Evil Empire release, he got heated. Empire had allegedly been paying a studio engineer within Wayne's circle to leak him unreleased tracks, which he then put out on unauthorized mixtapes, effectively forcing Lil Wayne to record new material and delay the release of his own album.
"He started threatening this guy's life, saying he's going to cut his throat and set him on fire, and if he sees him in the streets he's going to kill him," Malo recalls, adding that the rapper was smoking weed at the time and sipping from a cup. "The whole time I'm surprised because he knows I'm recording."
As Lil Wayne got more agitated, his tirade got worse: "All of a sudden he starts saying these really off-the-wall things, like he invented the mixtape game," he says, "and he starts comparing himself to Alfred Nobel, who he says invented gunpowder--and it's all this erroneous information that has no connection to anything."
Then came the clincher:
"I'm anti-mixtape dude," Lil Wayne ranted. "I don't know no mixtape dudes. Fuck you if you're a mixtape DJ ... Y'all selling me out--I ain't with that. Fuck y'all."
Malo nervously shifted the conversation to Lil Wayne's upcoming album. But the rapper remained unsettled.
"I don't like this interview no more, this mixtape shit," he said, tossing the magazine back at Malo.
Malo packed up, went to the hotel the label had arranged for him and waited for the phone to ring.
"This whole thing lasted 10 or 11 minutes, so I think his label, publicist and manager thought it was a wash because they never reached out to me after," he says. "They never called to see if I was still doing the story."
The 50 Cent/Lil Wayne issue hit newsstands three weeks ago. But the story of the interview broke earlier when the audio of Lil Wayne's tirade was posted on 50 Cent's website.
DJs and fans were outraged. Lil Wayne was accused of selling out the people who'd most helped him achieve his street fame--the mixtape DJs.
Hot 97 in New York picked up the clip and played it repeatedly. DJ Kay Slay aired it on his Sirius satellite radio show. Power 99's Wendy Williams invited the magazine's editor on the air. Soon the interview was being replayed at nearly every major hip-hop radio station from New York to California.
"We didn't give it to anybody in Philly and it was playing on the radio here anyway," says Malo.
The next day DJ Doo Wop, a legendary mixtape DJ, posted YouTube videos attacking Wayne for his about-face. Blogs like AllHipHop, SOHH, Nah Right and HipHopDX buzzed with the gossip, which also landed on the covers of Hip Hop Weekly and XXL.
The controversy grew so large that Lil Wayne was forced to respond to do damage control. On May 30 he called into longtime mixtape partner DJ Drama's satellite radio show, claiming his remarks were blown out of proportion: "I didn't mean to disrespect no DJ, no mixtape DJ, it was never no disrespect."
For Foundation magazine it was the buzz they needed to get the hip-hop world's attention.
PW's Music Issue 2014