Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy
Exclusive: Valee On "Womp Womp," Chicago Hip-Hop, Sade & Pusha T
If you've been hearing Valee's name everywhere lately, you're not alone. The Chicago rapper's stock skyrocketed after his mixtape 1988 put him on the map last year. This year he released his latest project GOOD Job, You Found Me back in March, dropped his single "Womp Womp" in May, and landed a spot on Pusha T's Daytona Tour. The tour kicks off this month and promises to put his signature flow in front of bigger and bigger audiences.
Following his set at Lollapalooza, Valee came through to talk about his latest music, his love for the smooth-voiced Sade, how boredom feeds his creativity, and more.
Let's talk about GOOD Job, You Found Me. What did you accomplish with this project and where did the name come from?
Good Job, You Found Me was my first EP release through the label [G.O.O.D. Music], to keep momentum going and to introduce myself. And, that [name] was actually the bio on my puppy's Instagram page, so we chose to use that and everybody loved it.
How did "Womp Womp" happen? Do you remember where you were when you made it?
I'm at home, and then I get a call to go to the studio, and Jeremih is downtown, Chicago, at the studio. So I pull up there, but he was already finishing up his part on "Womp Womp," and so he's like, "Yo, you wanna shoot at it?" So I shoot at it, and it was a good experience, flew right through it.
You're a distinctive rapper, and I'm wondering if you know where that comes from. What were the influences that helped you build who you are?
Basically, coming up, listening to Cash Money and Master P and my mother would listen to Sade and Erykah Badu, things like that. I didn't like that music back then, but now I guess, to look for soothing music or tones, you know, I would look to that, and I would love to do something with Sade, or Erykah Badu. Put out a nice Sade sample or something like that.
Yeah, you both have that breath in your tone. Well, if we see her, we'll pass along the message.
Yeah, I can't wait. It's gonna have to happen.
Tell me about getting ready to go on the road, and play some dates with Pusha T.
Yeah, for now, I know I have Detroit Monday. I'll be back here Wednesday for House of Blues in Chicago. And it's like, quite a few other spot dates, maybe 10 other spot dates, but for now, I know Detroit and Chicago, Wednesday. So I really can't wait to rock out here. House of Blues, I don't think I've performed there before. I may have, someone may have had me come out and do one song, but now it's my own show, or set, so I'm happy about that.
How did that come together? Did Pusha call you? How did this tour come to be?
Well, originally, me and Sheck Wes had a tour… and then we decided to wait and merge it with Pusha T's because he was going on one like, exactly a month and some change later. So, now we merged it with him. And then, congratulations to Pusha T, he just got married, couple of weeks ago. So, we're just gonna do 13, 14 spot dates now. So, it's gonna be nice.
You know, you've been an integral part of the Chicago scene for a long time, and I'm curious what you think about where it is right now. What's happening in Chicago right now that the rest of the world needs to know about?
I believe Chicago, right now, at this moment, has some of the best talent, and people are not afraid to express themselves musically and think outside of the box and not really limit themselves to one type of sound. And people are also getting away from the dangerous rapping, and making it more about fun. So, that's the good thing because now, people don't mind their kids doing music, you know. I, for certain, don't mind my son doing music. But if it had to stay dangerous? no.
What do you do outside of music to relax, or to recharge? What are your interests?
A lot of times I like to do nothing… I know I have things to do - features, things like that - but just having the ability to be bored sometimes, because that's when my best ideas come up, and then I just hurry and go with it, even if I wanna build something. But I gotta sit there and be bored first for a second.
What else are you working on at the moment?
I do have a new EP coming out through G.O.O.D. Music. It's gonna be all new music. I'm not sure how many tracks I wanna put on there, but it's gonna be very nice. Probably within the next month, month and a half, I'll be releasing it. And it's gonna be dope.