Maybe you’ve heard his name or seen his beautifully brown face across your feeds. One thing is certain—the minute you hear Mali’s voice, you know it’s not to be forgotten. Mali is a soul singer who uses his art not only to tell the stories of black people but also to shake us awake.

Mali’s new album, The Transition of Mali, aims to do just that. He stopped by The Root’s office to celebrate Black Music Month with us. We chatted, he crooned, and at the end of it all, we collectively fell in love with Mali, his music and his messaging. He told us: “I’m proud to be considered as woke now. I guess that just means that I’m a person that’s willing to speak my mind, willing to speak my beliefs without being afraid of what I’ll lose, how it makes somebody that disagrees feels, and let it move on from there.”

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And this is the kind of care Mali also gives his music. Check out our interview above, and make sure you get your hands on a copy of The Transition of Mali. It’s out in stores now!