Zen is one way to describe Valee. He doesn’t really use social media, nor does he bother to save people’s phone numbers. He aligns his energy instead with manual, constructive, lowkey-meditative activities such as working on cars, tattooing, and, luckily for us, rapping. The peacefulness of Valee, the human being, is also evident in his music. His songs all have a laidback yet meticulous quality to them. On “Two 16s,” a recent favorite from Z Money and ChaseTheMoney’s ZTM, he delivers arguably the most swag ever, compressed into a single, drawn-out breath. It is the rap equivalent of a one-shot.
Valee was born in 1988, so he’s reaching his audience well into adulthood. “My last name is Taylor,” he explains, in analogy. “So in school every time we got a project, I’m at the end. So I get to see the whole class do their project. Then when it comes time to do mine, of course I’d pass and the teacher wouldn’t have too many questions.”
The South Side rapper most recently made an appearance on Chance The Rapper and Jeremih’s Christmas mixtape, on a song called “Are U Live.” In other words, the city of Chicago is definitely behind him. We got to talk for a while about life, music, and everything that surrounds it, from expensive remote control cars to our mutual favorite rapper, the late Bankroll Fresh.
How did you get to this point?
Moved out into my old place about 6 or 7 years ago and I was gonna get a game system because I was bored, but ended up going to Guitar Center and bought what I needed to make beats like what I heard on the radio or mixtape websites. Then I figured I should rap on them, too. So I just spent a few years working at home with my head down before I just started putting out music, me and the people around me.
How do you get into a creative mode?
I gotta hear nice beats. If I hear a nice beat, I don’t know what it does, it just makes me come up with something to it, to complement it just as well. But I’m very selective. I might record two songs a month. Because that’s how many beats I’ve come across that I really like.
How did you start working with ChaseTheMoney?
I’m barely in my phone ever, but I go in my phone one day. I’m on Instagram explore page, and I think I scrolled up like three videos. I heard this beat that sounded so nice and I didn’t know the person. I just hit him and said, “Hey I want this beat right now, I don’t care how much it costs. I want it.” And his ass turn up at DJ Victoriouz’ house. DJ Victoriouz was the one hosting my mixtapes with Rio Mac. So it’s like a small world, weird way to meet him. So I get over there, a guy who I had just randomly heard his beat on Instagram. I’m sitting in front of him 30 minutes later.
You’ve started doing songs with ZMoney, who is now almost a veteran of the Chicago scene. Were you already a fan of him?
Yeah, I like his music, I like his beat selection, his creativity on beats. In Chicago, you’ll find a lot of people wanna rap the same way. So when you find somebody that’s just swaggy and having fun, and picking beats that you wish you had, that works.