Valhentine, how about you tell us more about yourself?
Valhentine is the real name I was given at birth. Through the years of introducing myself to people, I’ve gotten the “nice name” response a lot. When it came time to brand myself, I decided that there is no better way than to be authentic and use the name I was given at birth since it was unique and liked by others. I’m from New Orleans, LA originally.
I am Ethiopian American from my father’s side. Some of my older projects such as Nice Name and De$igner tRap can be found on most platforms. I’m currently in the process of moving to Los Angeles from the Bay Area as I get ready to release my debut album.
Before the interview, you’ve mentioned that you are from a musical family. Tell us more about how this impacted you?
I have uncles who played and still play live music. Being from a vibrant musical city, it’s naturally engraved in you. In my case, it was in my blood, literally. Since 12 I’ve been hanging around the recording studio my uncle owned and around music. He played guitar in a rock band and also was a self-taught studio engineer.
I purchased my first guitar in high school and was taught the basics along with keyboard and studio engineering. Having this around me I think helped me develop more individually and be less influenced by what other people my age were doing. I’ve been creative and focused on my individuality from the start.
When and why did you move to California?
It was 2014, and I was sitting around New Orleans. I had a lovely apartment I could barely afford walking distance to the Superdome. Living there with 2 others, and we had a collective back then. I started to feel stagnant. I always wanted to live in California. I met a girl from here who was doing an internship in NOLA for the summer.
When the fall came, I had $400, and I got a one-way ticket. I was living around UC Berkeley with my ex, who I just met 2 months earlier, and 3 other girls in a 2-bed apartment. It was ok at first, but when it ended, I was entirely on my own and had to find my own way. 4 years later I’m here and established. That journey was life-changing and its what helped me develop into who I am now.
When have you made your first track? How did the “rusty” process you’ve had years ago looked like?
When I was in high school, I use you play around in my uncle’s studio. He had a band and was an audio engineer and would book local artist and I would just sit around. Battle rap was a big thing at the time, so I was already rapping at school with my homies.
I always pushed to do things, and since I was already learning guitar and everybody was rapping, I tried doing more rock and experimental music. It wasn’t bad. I had access to the quality recording, and my uncle helped. Naturally, as I developed, I started recording myself and learning to make beats which all had a learning curve.
You’ve played guitar and are into rock music. Do you ever incorporate it into your hip-hop tracks to create a unique sound?
Yea I’m working on that now. I started by making rock music and haven’t fully bridged the 2 genres. I’m working on a separate project that’s guitar heavy. I’ve always kept that background though in my subject matter.
We’ve heard about your debut album coming up soon. What’s the release date? How proud are you of your work on it?
Lovers Lane, VERY early 2019. This whole year I’ve been recording and releasing very little music, so I have a lot of music ready. It’s the most organic project to date. Most songs were made at home with me and my producer Ouiigie from scratch. There is something for everybody on there, and I’m excited to share these with the world.
Do you focus more on the beat or the lyrics? What do you think is more essential?
The vibe is most important. How does it make you feel? To me, lyrics are crucial. I consider myself a song writer. Some of my best songs were written before the beat was ever made. A new way I’ve tried making songs on this album was by building the beat around the lyrics, like having everything written and then building drums and sounds behind it.
Pretty much the opposite way most people record but what that does is makes the song better because you’ve already taken out the time for lyrics so you won’t end up rushing lyrics or throwing in fillers to finish the verse.
How do you manage to stay on track of getting to success when life gets in the way?
It’s not easy. I feel like whenever real life happens, I always find a way back to the music b/c its a natural release for me. I haven’t released a lot of music in 2018 due to real life and legal situations. Life will always happen so either you deal with it or it deals with you.
How developed is music culture in your city? What would you change?
New Orleans is known for its music scene, mainly jazz and live music. The rap scene isn’t as developed as people would think. Bounce music dominates the radio and clubs there which leads little space for local rap music. Most successful artists leave in order to gain success. I would add more channels and outlets for a rap artist to release content.
There’s a problem when all the successful artists have to leave in order to find success, either for more support or to avoid being added to the high murder rate I don’t know if the city is cursed, but it seems that way sometimes. Artist on the come up almost always end up dead.
What are your biggest concerns about the music industry?
Getting to a point where my authenticity and morals are compromised for fame and money. I see it happening to a lot of artists I once loved and respected and would hate to follow that path.
Any last words before we wrap everything up?
Lovers Lane, the album VERY early this year. I plan to release 3 full projects this year, and I’m letting the audience decide what the singles are. So, if you love something let me know so I can give you more of what you love.
How can you be reached? What are your socials?
@odvalhentine for my Instagram and Twitter. vevo_tseguy is my Snapchat.
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