Going track by track with Valid on his solo debut 'Reach High'

Lab notes with Valid

May 6, 2015 at 1:00 am

Metro Times first met Valid last September, when he joined local producer and DJ jMAC for their collaborative album Beyond Physics. Fast forward another eight months and Valid is super excited about his first solo release, Reach High. The Detroit-born artist sat down with MT to dig into some of the tids, tads, and tales that helped create this vital music.

Metro Times: With "Validation," it feels like you were trying to set the tone for the album. The scratching is on point, and you're lyrically staking your claim.

Valid: This is one of the pieces I'm most proud of. I don't think "Validation" necessarily sets the tone of the album, but this being my official debut project, I think it does introduce, or re-introduce, me to listeners. The scratching is a timeless characteristic of hip-hop, and with the way the beat was made by Fresh Kils and the title of the track, it was only right to let the legendary DJ Los do his thing.

MT: What made you ask Supa Emcee to guest on "Versatility"? I love the verse, "I get the job done, invoice run the check/ hold that, no man, cold cash I love to get/ MC's is light, actin' like the roughest necks/grab the pipe slug & tech, but real life, he's like, never even touched a tech/ V might, be right, now or what's comin' next/either which you're not." You're really going off again, flexing your lyrical muscle, kind of reminds me of a part two to "Validation."

Valid: Supa Emcee is the only constant on all my projects. There is no other emcee, beat maker, engineer, or anyone that has something to do with every single project I ever put out other than my dude Sup'. And again, the first two songs on the album are kind of put there to crack peoples skulls open.

MT: "New Nasty" is the catchiest song of the album. What was the inspiration for this song? Is this a true story? And how was it working with Nick Speed? The hook flows as well, "She's on my mind, she don't want it all the time, she just wants to be my new nasty./ She's on the grind, helps me stay on top of mine, just wants to be my new nasty."

Valid: Oh yeah, it's a catchy one. I can't say it's a true story, but I think all of us men always think, "What if I could build the perfect girlfriend." So I decided I would make a song about the perfect girl that lives in my head. I told Nick Speed about it one time before we got on stage and all I had was some funny stuff to say and Speedo said, "Val, you gotta let me produce that record! That shit would be a hit!"

MT: How was it working with Keith Murray on "Vintage"? What made you decide to work with him? Feels like you're paying a nod to the old school and showing love to Detroit and N.Y. at the same time.

Valid: My man has songs with some of the greatest artists in the history of hip-hop, and I have a song with him now. That whole idea popped in my head when my dude DJ Butter, who had some mutual connects with Keith's people in New York, brought him up in a conversation. One thing I always wanted to do is show love to the hip-hop that was created when I was a young child. All we really did was just kind of say that in a way, we giving you that feeling when you see a classic '75 Lincoln Continental. We're not saying the music is outdated — it's just special, and timeless.

MT: "There It Is" is your most honest track. What made you decide to expose yourself this much? "Late 20s, never made money, can't enjoy a meal, fella' stay hungry/Grrown man broke and living in his parents' crib. Feeling like a bum, eating at his parents' fridge, here it is the narrative." You really didn't hold back.

Valid: I want to be transparent to listeners. One day I'm going to be long gone from this world, and once that happens I can't tell my story. So for whoever enjoyed my music, friends and family, or whoever it may be that discovers it for whatever reason, they have a true, honest representation of my life. I want people to feel the real me through the speakers when they listen, feel my pain, my happiness, or whatever I was feeling that day. I'm just putting my true story out to the universe.

MT: "Solemnly Swear" is your classic Detroit song. Many emcees over the years have shown Motown love in verse, of course. How were you trying to make this one different?

Valid: I was born in Detroit, and I came home with my parents from the hospital to a house that was on Florida Street in Southwest Detroit. I was baptized on Detroit's east side. I worked in Detroit, spent, and do spend a lot of time in Detroit — not just downtown, but in the neighborhoods. However, I never went to school in Detroit, and I was very young when my parents moved to Dearborn Heights. I'm first generation in this city and my bloodline runs pretty deep on some blue-collar, hardworking, something out of nothing, Detroit shit, to be honest. In this song, I still rep my Dearborn area too. I'm not Arabic, but being from this neck of the woods, it only seemed right to have that in the music.

MT: "Down Pour" is nice. You're in storytelling mode. Is this based on a real person? You told a story involving rape, and you told that story well. Is every person in the track a different woman, or is it all relating to the same person?

Valid: This one is crazy, because it is loosely based on an actual person I met. It is one continuous story about the same girl in all three verses. I met a young lady one night after a show at the venue Blondie's. She was from Detroit but stayed in Atlanta. And after talking for a very long time throughout the night, just having normal conversation, it came out that she was a prostitute for a couple rich-ass dudes there, in Atlanta. She kept it real with me and told me bits and pieces of her life story, which I used for mostly the story of this song. Of course, it is only roughly based on what she told me her story was. I never spoke with her again once we left the show that night.

Reach High was released April 28. Visit valid313.com for details.