The Chicago Defender’s Black Music Month Special Edition
K’Valentine | @KValentine
From the very beginning of Hip Hop music, young women have thrown their hat in the ring of a predominately male arena. From Roxanne Shante to Nicki Minaj, the list over the last three decades have been dominated by successful artists such as Salt N Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill to Chicago’s own Da Brat, Shawna and now Dreezy. Each artist holding their own ground—creating a unique style and being signed to major record labels.
The digital age has changed how major labels are forced to do business and gives more leverage to independent artists competing and building a solid fanbase.
K’Valentine is no stranger to the rap game. Having grown up between the South Suburbs of Chicago and finishing high school in Minnesota, she’s influenced by her love from Whitney Houston, Sarah McLaughlin, Stevie Wonder, Tupac and Eminem.
Chicago is a town that embraces Hip-Hop with rich musical roots but may not always have the resources to help artists rise to the next level in the music business. What has been your motivation in not staying discouraged?
Just the belief that I have in myself—in my faith and my craft. But I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea and think that I haven’t been discouraged. I just dropped my very first indie album Here For a Reason and I have a song on it called “Higher Power”. The song is about being discouraged within the industry and just the type of people I’ve had to encounter on my journey. Some people I still have to encounter, so when I do have those moments, if I’m feeling discouraged, I just put it into the music. When I began writing poetry, it was always when I was feeling down, so when I do have those moments I write more, so it kind of helps me.
In today’s digital landscape where fans can download an artist’s song from their mobile devices or laptops, you went ‘old school’ and pressed up vinyl. Did you want to inspire DJ and the die-hard vinyl collectors?
Yeah, it’s a combination. I wanted the DJs to be able to have some, but I feel like it’s still hip-hop lovers who love vinyl. I just got off tour with Talib Kweli and Styles P. Although the album wasn’t out for most of the tour, our merchandise was selling out.
You went on tour with Talib Kweli. How was that experience to tour with one of the most respected hip hop lyricist in the game?
Whenever an artist that I admire comes to Chicago, I try to make it out to the show and that’s what I did when I heard he was going to be here. I went to the show and I had a friend who had a friend who was working backstage. I got the opportunity to stand next to him, I told him how much I loved him and then I told him that I rap. He asked where could he go to listen to my music and I directed him to my website and I told him he could give me his phone number and I could text him my music links. Talib gave me his phone number and told me about a private party he was having at the Hard Rock, where he invited me to come through and played my music. He like what he heard and two weeks later, we were working on my mixtape Million Dollar Baby.
Did you feel like being a female was a hindrance or an advantage?
I think it’s both sometimes. Being a female, there’s an advantage because initially it may get you in the door to get somebody’s time and attention but sometimes they don’t take you serious. It depends on the person you’re interacting with as well. There’s way more male hip hop artists than there are women. So, if I show up to someone’s show or someone’s office, I’m going to stand out because I am a female.