Hip-Hop

Vory Is Stepping Out of the Shadows to Become the Star He Knows He Can Be

Vory
Chris McCoy*

Vory

There’s something special about witnessing an artist stand on the cusp of their breakthrough. For years, they’ve worked toward this moment, and over time, people began to notice what was going on with them. For Vory, this moment serves as a huge opportunity to not only prove himself, but to remember where he came from, as the deluxe edition of his self-titled EP inches closer to its release.

“It was a lot of pressure during those days, where I was running around and trying to make moves in the industry,” Vory tells Billboard. “At that moment, it was do or die.”

While releasing his first two projects between 2015-’18 (Overdose and Lucky Me), Vory’s name rose in circles as a talented songwriter. During that particular stretch, Vory successfully contributed to Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul, The Carters’ Everything Is Love (which landed him his first Grammy win, for best urban contemporary album) and Drake’s Scorpion.

Fast forward nearly three years later, and Vory is no longer that guy in the background. Since releasing his self-titled EP last December, the Houston, TX native has stood out on features -- including “Bandler Freestyle” with Reese LAFLARE -- and witnessed “This Side” become the No.1 most added R&B song on the radio, while developing a greater rapport with his Dream Chaser Records labelmate and boss, Meek Mill. Whether it’s through his lyrics sparking great emotion or melodies that naturally fit on any record, Vory is as versatile as it gets.

While heading to his flight overseas, Vory spoke to Billboard about what to expect from the deluxe edition of his self-titled project, the importance of working while traveling, what he learns most from collaborating with other great artists, and more.

The last time we spoke, you were putting together more pieces of this new project. Do you have an update for us?  

Yeah, man, I’ve been getting everything together. At this point, I’m 95% done with this project, and I have some people on there. I don’t want to spoil it for my fans, but please know there’s some great people on there.

With travel restrictions letting up, you’ve been able to travel and work on your craft at the same time. How important is it for artists to do both?

It’s very important, bro. If I only traveled to travel, it would be a lost opportunity, especially when heading overseas. If I’m staying within the country and heading somewhere like Houston, I’m not worried about missing the chance to take advantage of any inspiration and vibes that could hit me. But when overseas? I have to live [life] and record. It’s a must.

But how does one balance living life and gaining that inspiration and making new music with or without it?

Sheesh, that’s a great question, especially in my case. I say that because sometimes, I don’t look out for myself while on the road with my people. I instead make sure they’re OK. Heck, that could be a song in itself. Sometimes my fun comes in the form of living through the folks that go with me. They would tell you; I enjoy chilling and not doing anything. [Laughs.]

My people are the ones finding the new spots, or being recognized for knowing me -- and maybe for a night or two, I’ll pop out with them. I don’t enjoy being in the club for long. You won’t find me in there longer than an hour.

Whether it’s song-by-song or in general, is your creative process extensive?

Nah, it’s usually not. The only way it takes longer than expected is based on my mood and what happens with it. For example, if I’m mad because of something that happened with my girl and I start a song, I could stop because my energy isn’t right. So, in those cases, I usually won’t finish it. But if my vibe is right, and I’m in it all the way, that song will be quickly finished. I have to, because it’s hard for me to revisit things.

Some people would consider your song-making approach to be “stop and go.” In that case, how do you finish what’s started on a high note?

It really depends on how I’m feeling again. [Laughs.] Besides what I just told you, sometimes I could be too lit or drunk to finish it. For example, I got a crazy song with me, Lil Durk, and Lil Baby, and I never finished it because I got too lit. I didn’t even finish the verse, man! It’s such a smash, and I’ve played it a lot, but I haven’t finished it yet.

What was your mindset like in the beginning of your career and how have you maintained your peace of mind since then?

My mindset was all over the place, bro. I was unsigned, running around Atlanta and dealing with what some people would call “pressure." I just knew I had a lot to prove because I hadn’t gotten stamped by the industry yet. So whatever opportunity I got, I took advantage of it. And whether it was back then or right now, I don’t be in the mix. I always wanted to stand out and be myself.

Even going back to my days in [high] school, when I use to dress like [Lil] Wayne and wear all sort of stuff, I did that because I was me. Another good example would be Drake. Way before I even met him, I would never see Drake wear [loud] jewelry or anything crazy, and this dude is the biggest artist in the world. I learned a lot from that.

Speaking of Drake and more so Meek Mill, you’re in a position to work with these guys and, to an extent, compete with them. Do you become more competitive while around them or balance being competitive with learning more things?

It’s a balance. Even though I am ready to be a student while around them, I still walk in with my head up, knowing who I am and what I can do. At any moment, I can stand out and do my thing, so having that balance is essential. But to be honest, it’s not the lessons for me when with those guys, but more so the memories -- and I have quite a few. [Laughs.]

As we approach the halfway point of this year, what are your biggest goals remaining?  

I’ve knocked off the two biggest ones from my list since we last spoke, to be honest with you. I told you I was a huge fan of The Weeknd -- and I recently finalized a deal with XO Management, which is crazy. I also had a chance to get in the studio with one of my idols, Future, a week ago, and we cooked something up. But with that said, I would like to help others accomplish their goals. If I could do that, the rest of my year would remain great.