Hip-Hop

G.O.O.D. Music's Rising Star Valee on Why Kanye West Is 'Misunderstood'

Valee
Meredith Truax

Valee

Kanye West may keep accomplished company, but a glance at his G.O.O.D. Music roster shows a keen interest in new talent. Case in point: Chicago rapper Valee, who, following breakthrough 2016 hit “Shell” and a Pitchfork Festival after party set last July, found himself on the line with West after being connected by his manager, noted hip-hop tastemaker Andrew Barber. “[Kanye] is telling me how much he enjoyed my music,” explains Valee, 29. “He said everyone at G.O.O.D. was a fan of my music and was excited to work with me.”

It wasn’t until last October, though, that Valee’s carefree, off-kilter flow got him officially signed with G.O.O.D. Music. In March, he made his debut with the six-track mixtape GOOD Job, You Found Me, executive-produced by West and featuring Pusha T as the sole guest.

What attracted Valee to G.O.O.D. wasn’t the star-studded roster (Big Sean, Desiigner), but that the imprint let him create without restrictions. “There were a few labels scouting me, but I felt like G.O.O.D. had my best interest at heart,” says the Chicago native. “They gave me the freedom to really do what I want, which is to expand my brand, make great music and find ways to elevate my sound.”

He now says that he sees West exploring this same freedom himself. “He’s misunderstood because he’s asking a lot of questions that some people are afraid to ask and some are offended by, but I’ve actually had the chance to sit down and hear him speak. Either you love him or you hate him -- I love him.”

Adds Valee: “I’m proud I picked a good team to grow with -- pun intended.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2 issue of Billboard.