By: Seamus Fay
Life is funny. As humans, we naturally take things for granted, with one of our most under-appreciated assets being that of time. From a young age, we’re constantly told that we have decades upon decades in front of us, but the truth is, whether one has many years ahead or not, life is short and more importantly, it’s not guaranteed.
Being that life isn’t guaranteed, it’s only sensible to say that procrastination isn’t worth it. If tomorrow isn’t promised, then why wait? Why push our dreams down the line when in reality, the further we push these dreams out, the less likely they are to get accomplished?
Asking themselves many of these same questions, Boston artists Valley and KorHef are here today for an interview ahead of Valley’s forthcoming debut mixtape.
Having turned heads around the city for a few years at this point, Valley’s slow-burning come-up has been best characterized by infrequent releases and a keen sense of individuality. Simply put, no one in the city sounds quite like the Dorchester native, and now paired with producers KorHef and Stoop Kid for his debut project, Valley is roaring with the creative ambition and motivation to make a profound mark on the city’s music scene with his formal introduction. However, as many fans have taken note, this full-circle moment in Valley’s rise may seem quite sudden.
Born out of tragedy, the release of the project was actually pushed far ahead of schedule due to the untimely and deeply unfortunate loss of Corey “Flee” Thompson. Beloved by music and fashion communities in Boston and beyond, Corey’s passing acted as a wake-up call for Valley, KorHef, and countless other creatives, reminding them that if they’re going to make their mark, the time is now — but more on that later.
Below is a conversation I was fortunate enough to have with Valley and KorHef about the creation of the project, their collective headspace amidst such a tough loss for the city, and so much more.
Thank you to Valley and Kor for taking the time.
Rest in peace to Flee and thank you to a young legend for all of the early encouragement in regards to Graduation Music. The city wouldn’t be where it is without Corey’s inspiring presence, long-term vision, and ahead-of-the-curve style.
And just as a reminder — reach out to your loved ones and let them know that you appreciate them. Tomorrow’s not promised, so let’s enjoy and make the most of today.
How did you and Kor start working together in the first place?
Valley: To be honest, when Kor first started making beats, he always wanted to work with me, so I kept telling him, “yo — you gotta get a little better and work on your craft some more.” And Corey was always the one that was right there to be back that up and tell Kor, “man, keep working, keep working.”
At the time, I was getting beats from [Dreaveli] and Stoop Kid, so I was already situated with the producers. Mind you, though, Dre and Stoop had also been helping Kor with his beats. A couple months went by, bro was playing me some new shit from Kor, and I said, “wait a minute — this is Kor?” [Dreaveli] was like, “yeah, this n***a been working on beats every day — and I knew that wasn’t cap because that’s the person that Kor is, you feel me? He’s very determined on anything he wants to do.
From there, I started hearing more beats from him and hit him like, “yo, we definitely gotta tap in.” At the time, though, I was still working with Stoop heavy, and me and Stoop were actually going to put out a tape. I fell back from it, though, because I still wanted to go deeper into my craft. I took that time to link with Kor and we just started going crazy.
KorHef: I got in contact with Valley through Corey — just being around Corey and knowing that Valley did music. Then one day, we got up and started working on music together. Ever since then, the chemistry just kept getting built up and it’s still building right now. I found out about Valley in like 2010, but I’ve only been making beats for about three years now, so that’s when we started working.
Also, coming up as a drummer, I just have a different ear for music. When I would hear different sounds, I would call up bro and be like, “oh, this is it,” you feel me? So by the time we would link up, [Valley] could just start writing and we’d be ready to go. And we’d be on that type of shit all the time.
What was going on before music? What made you want to take it more seriously?
Valley: Mainly based on how I would dress, people would always be like “oh, you like a rapper,” and to me, I was cool with all the rappers — Cousin Stizz, Mikey Christmas, OG Swaggerdick… This was around that era when they were still on the rise. I was in the back just bussin’ plays with all the bitches, doing fly shit and really whatever I could do. At the time, I was also fucking with some other artists from the city. Through them, I was involved with the forefront of the scene, but I was still that fly n***a in the back.
At some point while they were doing their thing, I just split because I didn’t like the direction they were going in at the time — it wasn’t the music I was trying get behind and stand on, so I stopped.
Then my boy died. He was always tryna rap but I was never on no rap shit. I probably did a couple freestyles here and there just to fuck with the game, but I was never serious about that shit until he died. After that, I took time to figure out what I wanted to do in life and then, I decided to take a spin with the music thing. Still, though, at the time, I was doing mad shit in the street, just not focusing. That changed over time, though.
KorHef: I’m from a music family. I was originally a drummer and a percussionist, so I played in churches and stuff like that. I didn’t finish college, so after that, I made my decision to become a producer and decided to learn as much as I could. I just ran with it and created my own sound.
Valley, how did it feel when your debut release, “Landed,” came out and the city started to show love right away?
Valley: When I did “Landed,” I was in the moment with life and everything, so I really just painted a picture of what was going on. I feel like the city was fucking with it because it wasn’t something they had seen before.
I felt like that was a little gift to the city in a lot of ways — it was never something that I really wanted to set ears on, though — that was an in-the-moment flow. When I first did that shit, I was like, “oh this how we going in on ‘em — they think this is how I’m coming, but this really isn’t how I’m coming. That was basically the whole mindfuck in the beginning of it all. I still get hit up to this day about the video, no cap.
That really introduced people to the idea of how different your style was, too.
Valley: Exactly. Music is a lot like when I put on clothes, honestly, because it’s such an aesthetic. When I put on clothes, I just want every piece to be hitting, so how I do it, I definitely go outside the box.
I’m talented, myself, so I’m always challenging the ear that’s listening. If you wanted to walk in my path, always do it different and then get better because there are a thousand ways to do this shit. With the music, it’s dope because even though it’s light, you can really feel that shit.
When I make music, I want to make it seem like I’m gliding. But then, the other side of it is that I want to make people really feel my shit. You never really know what side you might get — it could be the side you know about or the side you really don’t know too much about.
Right now, at least in my opinion, it feels as though Boston music is on the verge of a tipping point. Do you guys feel the same way?
Valley: Yeah, coming from last year and seeing where shit is at now, I definitely feel like there are a lot of things bubbling up and coming to their peaking point. It’s definitely there — it’s definitely the right time to lay claim.
KorHef: Definitely yeah, with summertime and all that.
With that in mind, how did Corey’s passing influence the decision to release the project so soon?
Valley: I’m going to be honest with you, we weren’t even thinking about dropping. In the past, though, Corey was always saying that he wanted me to drop a tape. I’ve always been hearing from Corey, “bro, drop a tape, drop a tape, what are you waiting for?” And I always just felt like n****s wasn’t ready — that was just me in my head.
So when this shit happened, I just told Kor, “yo this shit needs to happen now — for Flee.” Because now, I don’t get to hear that anymore and looking back, I realize I should have been listened to Corey and seen what could have happened if I did. Maybe this shit would have never happened and maybe we would be somewhere else. And that shit hurt me, you know? So now, it’s really just like fuck it Kor, let’s go. The time is now.
KorHef: Yeah, Corey used to always tell me the same kind of thing — “just drop more music so that people know you’re really out here making beats.” Either that, or he would tell me to start working with this person or start working with that person. But now, those people are starting to reach out to me so it’s time to start making everything happen. I know [Corey] would want me to keep going. Shit is just different now, but it’s come a long way.
What will this project mean for the city?
Valley: I think the project will be something to consider as a new sound. It will be something to finally stick for my generation and under. I feel like I’m the big brother to all these little n***as that are tryna be on the shit that me and Flee were on. And that’s just real life, too — even when I go to New York, in the fashion scene over there with all the models and everything, that’s actually how it goes.
I feel like this tape is about to stamp everything. Almost everybody from around here has gotten on some fan shit with me — in a good way, though. You can understand how that would make a person feel bigheaded at the end of the day, but with me, I’m not that kind of n***a — I show love.
And really, n*****s been waiting for this for a long time, even from back when I dropped “Color Diamonds” and “Kiss”. This is about to be that moment of “okay, this is what n****s have been waiting to hear up out of here. Because you already got Stizz, you already got Christmas, you already got Vintage, you already got Sean Wire — you already got mad people that have dropped that are hella talented. Now, you got me.
And you have to understand, this is real life. I could be gone the next day, so I got a different perspective thanks to Corey. That’s why it’s time to drop now. For every n***a that’s like me and every n***a that’s not like me — I want everybody to be able to hear the pain and be able to really feel the lyrics, you dig what I’m saying?
KorHef: I just feel like with my beats, after three year of working, I’m definitely slept on. I’m not a producer that has all these placements with Christmas, Replay, Vintage, and all them, so like Valley said, it’s going to be a real moment for a lot of people between the beats and the lyrics.
And when this project does drop, what’s the goal? What impact do you want it to make?
Valley: The goal with this project is to appreciate life and never take nothing for granted. The goal is to cherish the ones that’s in front of you and protect them with everything you got. The goal is to always check up on your loved ones. The goal is to always have confidence in your self in any circumstances.
The goal is just to live life above. Touch as many people as you can and change your mindset, because if you don’t change your mindset, look what happens. I just want people to live their life, and if you want to cleanse your soul of any bad shit you’ve done, you’d better do it now. We lose so much to wasting time, so if you want to do some shit, you’d better do it now — don’t overthink it, do it now.