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Tune Glue 021: Valee
An interview with the Chicago rapper about collaboration, his dreams to own a ranch, and his new album 'VALEEDATION'
Valee is a Chicago-based rapper who rose to prominence with his 2017 feature on Z-Money’s “Two 16’s,” showcasing an extremely unorthodox run-on flow and nonchalance. That got the attention of Kanye West, who signed the rapper to G.O.O.D Music and released his 2018 EP GOOD Job, You Found Me, executive produced by West himself. Later that year, he was catapulted even further with “Womp Womp,” a collaboration with Jeremih that marked Valee’s first Billboard hit.
Despite G.O.O.D.’s dismal efforts in promoting him, Valee consistently released music. He dropped Runnin’ Rich in 2019, which featured fellow Chicagoans G Herbo and Vic Mensa. He made collaborative records with AYOCHILLMANNN, KiltKarter, and ChaseTheMoney, and appeared on artists’ tracks as disparate as YG, Smino, Matt Ox, Aminé, and Pink Siifu. 2023 finds him following suit, as he dropped VIRTUOSO with Harry Fraud on July 21th. His newest project is VALEEDATION, and is a collaboration with MWV (aka Michael Vincent Waller). Eli Schoop called up Valee on October 5th, 2023 to discuss his musical variety, fashion sense, keeping his dogs safe from coyotes, and his dreams of owning a ranch.
Eli Schoop: The features you’ve been getting on your stuff have a lot of different vibes. You’re open to every style, whether that’s RXK Nephew or Action Bronson. You work with every type of dude.
Valee: Yeah, I like music, all types of music. I like listening to a lot of stuff, especially letting stuff play while working on cars, while I work on my own shit. But I could be doing motorwork and then end up listening to so many different people, just playing Apple Music.
Oh shit I didn’t know you did motorwork.
Yeah, I mess with my own stuff. That be my escape from music cause I heard shit on accident, before that I wasn’t really playing music, but that’s how I heard RXK Nephew, RX 2Doe, and how I ended up watching Action Bronson’s shows. I ended up letting that play on YouTube.
(laughs). While you were working on the cars?
Yeah, it ended up being a real interesting day.
What rides you got?
It’s just Mopar stuff, I got a Trailblazer truck, a SS Trailblazer, Jeep Challenger, a Charger. All of em’ are a work in progress cause I always change stuff on em’. I’m gonna start showing it in the next couple of months, when they’re in completion.
That’d be sick if you got your creations in the video.
I might show one of them, and then a snippet of all of them, but I ain’t too fond of showing stuff cause then it won’t be too private here (laughter).
Right, when you rap, you talk about the fits you pulling off, but you not flexing, you have a sense of fashion but not too egotistical about it.
Right, gotta get dressed and sometimes dress nice but shit, I try to be simple, comfortable too cause a lot of shit is too uncomfortable (laughter). A lot of clothing, could be a fit or a brand, but this particular pants or brand is very uncomfortable. You know how that shit goes, especially with shoes.
What brands you not messing with like that?
Really it depends, it’s a lot of stuff I like but I also try to wear. I just like Gucci. Gucci can kinda go with everything and it doesn’t feel like you’re overdressed. Everything else is too much leather, y’know? And then a lot of stuff, they don’t stay ahead of the curve with their designs and stuff, other people will venture into other shit or other colors, they might be into Balenciaga or Louis but they might go on a spree where it’s all primary colors and that shit might be ugly (laughter).
I remember the HIMMYimmy video where you had the Gucci hat and then that crazy Daffy Duck sweater and I was like “yo that’s crazy” cause he was getting the fits off but not like too overboard or anything.
Yeah, dressing like the trappiest golfer ever.
Like the ScHoolboy Q when he goes out golfing.
Yeah, definitely, wanna be like that.
Are you still in contact with G.O.O.D Music? Like any management or label thing happening?
No, but I’m always on call and stuff like that in case they reach out and wanna do music and stuff. That’s always random, but that’s how it’s always was, ’cause you never where [Kanye’s] at or not. So if he comes nearby or wants to fly anybody anywhere to get some ideas done or get some ideas out, I’d be available for stuff like that, cause that’s always fun. It never was too much contact. Well, I guess my management and friend Andrew [Barber] always took care about that anyway so he’d do all of that for work and I’d do my end, but I didn’t really know.
I feel like they kinda fumbled with your uniqueness forreal, not that you seek out the spotlight but you’re going one way and everyone else going a different way.
Yeah, to be too ahead of the curve sometimes. But I just compare it to the simple stuff. Y’know, there was a time where I wore my white tees too fitted, too fitted for a couple years for my friends and they’d talk about it and then maybe three summers later, their t-shirts are extremely fitted, and they’re bigger than me. I’m just like, “Y’know you used to talk about me years ago.” It’s always on-time for you to be on time.
You said your manager takes care of all that label stuff you’re not concerned with and it sucks, you don’t wanna have to play the game like that.
The label always did their thing but if I had a completed body of work—if I did a song or a project, and I wanted to put that out, if you want to put out music frequently—it’s too much involved. They may wanna fly you in so that they can listen to you, listen to your idea, and then instead of keeping your idea as is, they may wanna put—and this isn’t necessarily Ye, the G.O.O.D. Music people or whoever—there’s too much involved and they slow it down a little, they wanna make it a big deal. Sometimes you gotta just… they say spend some money to make some money, well you gotta put some music out to make some music. Like Wayne with all the Droughts and mixtapes, y’know, he wasn’t necessarily getting paid for that, that’s just a shitload of music coming out back to back and you gotta put it out, which made him bigger. I got so many projects done though, I love working with MVW, I got so many things done that have to come out that I pretty much finished within the last month or year.
Your body of work is impressive for someone that stays low-key and doesn’t play the industry game much. You have stuff with AYOCHILLMANNN and ChaseTheMoney and Harry Fraud, you’ve got your stable of producers and sounds that you can really branch out with.
Definitely, ’cause everybody got they own way of having their shit sound, it is good to have that broad range. There’s new producers that have been reaching out to me that sound good, just a couple of people, so new stuff coming with people that I haven’t worked with.
You said you had another Harry Fraud project?
Yeah, I’m working on a new Harry, I did a Black Noi$e project, there’s a new TopSide project, and there’s a producer called Stan Lane, he just sent, that I just finished.
That’s sick, you just have your hands in so many different pots, and it’s all these different kinds of music, but you’re really comfortable in it.
It’s all these different lanes but it’s my expressway.
That’s real as hell.
Then with AYO, we’re gonna do another series of the TrAppiEst, so the 3 tapes that we did, we’re gonna do a new TrAppiEst Elevator, and a new TrAppiEst Disco, and shit, I forgot the other one. Probably by the spring they’ll be out.
Those were definitely dope too cause you were on your jazz shit forreal.
That happened in one session. You’d make 4 songs and shit, we have not many more and it’s done.
So you just in your pocket with him.
Yeah, should be alright.
What artists would you really want to work with that you haven’t got the opportunity yet?
It’s a few people. I like people like Jill Scott and stuff like that, something with Lauryn Hill, something with Erykah Badu. The rapping stuff, if I do a good enough job, I guess you can get any rapper, but I do look up to 2 Chainz, big time, and I like Rocko. And of course, I like Future. I like everybody though, one day I wanna work with 2 Chainz. I just wanna work with people you wouldn’t think I’d work with, or people that don’t work with people.
The R&B lane is crazy. I wasn’t thinking about that, but the last track on VALEEDATION, “Ain’t Exotic,” you kinda go into that pocket.
A couple years ago I used to really hit that pocket, not really singing but you know, I used to hit that pocket and didn’t rap as much, I used to skate through stuff, but not really rapping. I was rhyming but not rapping. I wasn’t saying metaphors and stuff like that, and now I’m that focused on trying to say a metaphor from a beginning of a beat to an end. Now I’m mixing it back up.
You’ve definitely evolved from that box people put you in, like your flows and stuff. Now you’re really growing as an artist. That difference between the R&B stars that you’re fans of, and more classic, popular rappers, but you can do both.
Yeah like I said, I do like everybody. I even like Rx Papi and Bankroll Fresh, when he was here. I like people that rap ahead of the curve. Like you hear something and be like, “Damn, this is what it should be sounding like, this how people need to be rapping,” or anything that challenges you to rap more, like really rapping, not just saying shit. I like Lupe, y’know, I really like everybody.
Oh yeah true you did get Twista and Saba on the Harry Fraud project, you got the Chicago connection, I feel like Lupe would take it to another level.
I love Lupe, he’s tight, real nice with it. It’s a lot of people that would be a dream to work with, so many people, but people probably don’t know I be wanting to work with the Jill Scotts and the Lauryn Hills also.
You’re flexing your multiplicity.
And that type of music be lasting forever.
Well I wanted to ask how your dogs are doing.
They’re good, they’re scattered out now, I got dogs at my little ones’ house, with my daughter, she’s got one of my dogs, and then my other daughter has one of my dogs. All the dogs are good, keeping out of the way. I got an area I’m at mostly that has coyotes and shit outside, so I gotta be ahead of the curve with that.
Uhuh, in a suburb of Chicago, I have a place out there, there’s coyotes all around there. So you gotta be careful. When I’m out there walking them it can’t be too early in the morning. It can’t be too late, it has to be always around noon. It can’t be gloomy, ’cause they be lurking.
(laughs). I had no idea, I grew in Chicago in childhood, I’m from the North Side so I ain’t never seen no coyotes, is this like Aurora or Naperville?
Nah, the Southern Suburbs.
I ain’t even know. Chicago really dangerous everywhere you go huh?
Definitely, somebody see what they want, they’ll follow you for a while, you know, shit can happen to so many famous people in the nicest places here. But everybody head ain’t screwed on right so I believe it’s just dangerous anywhere. You can’t just be outside oblivious, and you’ll be alright.
Ever thought of getting out of Chicago? I love Chicago but y’know.
I was gonna add a place somewhere, but like a tech home or a tech ranch somewhere on a lot of land cause I want animals and cattle and shit like that. And my cars just thrown anywhere. An up-to-date Wild Wild West. Not your typical look but something nice. As long as I can have my land and my animals and stuff like that. But I also don’t like being 100 blocks from where I was born for too long. So I always gotta keep a place within 100 blocks from where I was born. And then everything else can add on.
So you can stay close to the hood, that’s real.
So I can always take a nap within 100 blocks from where I was born, just to stay grounded. People just leaving where they from and I just need that for my creativity.
Do you think Chicago fuels that part for yourself?
Mmm, I don’t know. Probably just me myself, but I’m not too much a fan of all the way leaving. I can leave for a long period of time no problem. But I always have to have a place here, and then I can go wherever.
I thought with the ranch you’d have been all the way in the countryside.
My ranch could be a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, not your average ranch. Like a warehouse in the middle of nowhere with cattle is crazy. Like with a lot of glass, that’s crazy looking. I’m fine with that. Like a big-ass Wendy’s in the middle of nowhere, with cattle around it. That’s it (laughs).
You’re thinking in the year 3000.
The way they’re building these places now everything is lofty, like metal, glass. Something like that in the middle of nowhere, and I’ll be happy.
Thank you for reading the twenty-first issue of Tune Glue. Shout out to the Baconator.
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