Looking back on Valee‘s emergence from the Chicago rap world in 2017, it’s kind of unsurprising that so many rappers copied his flow. He sounds completely unbothered in a way that doesn’t suggest mastery of a mood so much as a complete embodiment of it, like a monk with face tattoos. No one could capture the Valee wave quite like the original, though, and he managed to secure a devoted cult fanbase, a gold record in “Womp Womp” featuring Jeremih, and a label deal with G.O.O.D. Music prior to its founder’s Nazi controversy.
After a break, Valee returned to his independent roots in 2021 with the release of four projects: The TrAppiEst Elevator Music Ever!, KiltValee, The TrAppiEst Disco Music Ever!, and Gimme Five Im High. VACABULAREE, his first full-length of 2022, is out today, and Valee is as content as ever to stay in the notable lane he carved for himself. The humor is sharp, the beats are unobtrusive earworms, and lyrical tropes are refashioned to sound fresh. Na-Kel Smith, ZelooperZ, and Kiltkarter feature on the album, streaming below.