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Rapper Valee sets himself apart with a distinctively even-tempered mike approach that favors smooth melodicism and a skillful balance between intricate wordplay and concision. The Chicagoan stirred up interest during the latter half of the 2010s with a series of mixtapes starting with 12:12. Outfitted with laid-back productions granted most frequently by the likes of RioMac, ChaseTheMoney, and Troy P, Valee's rhymes soon found a larger platform through Kanye West, whose GOOD Music issued the EPs GOOD Job, You Found Me (2018) and Runnin' Rich (2019), along with an intermediate hit in the form of the Jeremih collaboration "Womp Womp." Valee's discography has greatly expanded since those major-backed efforts with projects such as The Trappiest Elevator Music Ever! (2021), Vacabularee (2022), and Virtuoso (2023). A native of Chicago's South Side, Valee earned a reputation in his neighborhood for his custom work on cars, and was similarly self-starting when he got into rapping and production. He took his time before stepping forward in 2015 with 12:12, the first in a flurry of mixtapes through 2017 that concluded with the particularly well-received 1988. Landing on the roster of GOOD Music, Valee was exposed to a considerably wider audience with the late-2017 commercial release of the mixtape track "Miami," followed in 2018 with a version of "Miami" featuring Pusha T, along with GOOD Job, You Found Me, an EP executive-produced by label head Kanye West. The casual standalone single "Womp Womp," featuring Jeremih, became Valee's first charting track before the 2019 arrival of Valee's second GOOD EP, Runnin' Rich. By the end of 2019, Valee was independent again with a slew of tracks produced by ChaseTheMoney. Over the next few years, he was more prolific than ever, moving constantly from one project to the next as he stuck to his instantly recognizable style. Among the combination of singles, EPs, and full-lengths Valee released in 2021 were the themed AYOCHILLMANN collaborations The Trappiest Elevator Music Ever! and The Trappiest Disco Music Ever!, the KiltKarter collaboration KiltValee, and Gimme Five Im High, yet another recording with ChaseTheMoney. Having previously contributed to a mixtape headlined by MVW, Valee in 2022 teamed with that producer for "Oscar," which quickly became one of his most popular post-GOOD tracks. He capped off the year with the full-length Vacabularee, released through the label offshoot of Fake Shore Drive, the blog and talent agency operated by long-term manager Andrew Barber. Valee partnered with Harry Fraud in 2023 for Virtuoso, containing the Action Bronson-assisted "Vibrant."
© Andy Kellman /TiVo


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