First Look Friday: Understand The Passion Within Calvin Valentine
Calvin Valentine photo taken by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.
Hip-hop is truly a universal connector, a global force and an innovative way to express one’s self. How Sway? Well, take a look at the life and budding legacy of singer, songwriter and producer, Calvin Valentine. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, where the population, as of 2013, clocked in at almost 160,000 — Calvin Valentine has been musically inclined since a young age. From cutting tapes with a friend in middle school to hitting the road as part of The Warped Tour with his band, Medium Troy, Valentine has been passionately committed to stepping out into the scene and letting his music do the talking.
For someone so young, his street cred is impeccable. From working with De La Soul (“God It”) to Planet Asia (“Camouflage Jackets) to his own work, “Your Drugs,” which was lauded by a host of music publications — CV is becoming the musical force that he has always seen himself being. Now, relocated in Los Angeles, the man known around the industry as “Bong Mayer,” rips venues with the force of a trained veteran, while his forthcoming project, Eugene, promises an in-depth look at the creative when it hits all digital retailers on October 28. With so many hip-hop luminaries in his rolodex, you would think that talking with CV would be full of story about life on the road and waxing poetic about his jaded outlook on the industry.
Quite the contrary.
In fact, talking with Calvin Valentine reassured us that the future of good music is in great hands. As the mainstream world from Complex to us here at Okayplayer to even Entertainment Weekly all recognize Calvin’s budding star power, we were fortunate enough to have him share some time with us as this week’s First Look Friday subject. In our look at his career, Calvin Valentine shared with us his list of musical influences, an exclusive listen to “4U2ME,” which features his longtime friend, Celly, and breaks down one of the biggest obstacles he’s had to overcome. Press play, sit back, groove out and enjoy!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in Oregon are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Calvin Valentine: My Oregon family and fans have seen my progression [in my career]. I went from putting on shows in middle school to playing drums in Medium Troy. I moved to Portland and eventually made my way out to Los Angeles. They’ve all seen my constant outpour of music and the versatility that I have with being able to play various instruments. There are so many talented artists in Oregon, so it is exciting to see some attention thrown that way.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
CV: I have always been influenced by artists who do it all: write, produce and perform. Curtis Mayfield is a huge influence of mine. The fact that he was aware enough to want to own his masters and publishing and to run his own label at such a young age is inspiring. Of course, hip-hop artists like J Dilla, Moka Only, Madlib and Roc Marciano—who all created their own lane and found success in it—continue to inspire me.
OKP: Your song, “4U2ME” is extremely dope and has heightened anticipation for new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
CV: First off, thank you for listening too and enjoying the music. I tried, while creating this album, to not become to anti-social; which as a music producer is extremely easy to do. So, I took time to work on my mind, health and friendships outside of music, so when I got in the studio I could be more focused. I made sure not to force any songs while creating and tried not to be attached to songs just because I made them. This allowed me to create the best music and to get rid of the fluff. As far as press goes, I’m always grateful and humbled that anyone would take the time to listen to my music and write about it. The first time I saw my face in the Eugene Weekly, I was just happy to show my friends and family that this was more than a hobby for me.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racism occurring almost on a daily basis — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?