New kid on the hip hop block Calvin Valentine, recently released “Your Drugs” from his upcoming project entitled “Eugene”. Well…he’s not SO new. If we were to share his music production and performance resume, you would undoubtedly deem Mr. Valentine an industry vet. He started playing the drums at age 6. By 19, he rocked the Warped Tour with his band Medium Troy. He’s produced a full-length album for Planet Asia and De La Soul’s “God It” (featuring Nas). Along the way, he’s worked with Bun B, Devin the Dude, Juicy J, and Dilla’s younger brother, Illa J. His latest placement is “Two Days,” on Interscope artist Boogie’s “Thirst 48 Pt. II”.
Calvin Valentine “Your Drugs”
The Oregon native brings a level of musicality and lyricism reminiscent of early artists “Tribe Called Quest” and “Outkast” but with a edge that speaks to ‘today’. It’s a treat to our ears and stands out from the current mass market music projects currently pumped out and prompted. You don’t have to meet the guy to know that he’s an artist first, you just need to listen. Calvin Valentine is one you need to HEED.
Check out bonus track Calvin Valentine/Soundlapse – Go Lo
WHO IS CALVIN VALENTINE?
The legendary author Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.” And clearly, the most powerful non-chemical flashbacks are induced by memories of adolescence—the time of your first kiss, first spliff, and those sounds that irrevocably alter the course of your life.
Calvin Valentine’s “Eugene” captures the intensity of those feelings. Released on the EYRST label, it’s love story to the artist’s Oregon hometown, replete with swooning strings, angelic melodies, extraterrestrial talkboxes, and evocative nostalgia. It’s rap, it’s R&B, it’s soul. It’s one of those indefinable albums that allows you to understand why genre is obsolete. It’s music—a timeless project from an artist who is acutely aware of how much time has elapsed.
“Moving out to LA, you can feel homesick every now and again,” says Valentine, who spent several years cultivating his reputation in Portland before moving to California. “It makes you wonder if you made the right decision. It was better for my career, but you start to miss that structure of family and friends that you have at home.”
This slight melancholy spurred the producer, singer, and rapper’s creativity to its greatest heights. Few artists exhibit such versatility: Valentine wrote almost every hook, rapped every bar, and made every beat (save for two songs co-written with the velvet-voiced Danielle Henderson and scratches courtesy of his brother, Celly).
On Eugene, Valentine managed to do one of the most difficult things in music: write affecting love songs without coming off sappy, conveying the madness that sweeps you during the first flush of teenage romance without losing a hip-hop edge. In this ability, its closest analogue is Slum Village’s Fantastic Volume 2. But you can also hear the faint touches of Dam-Funk in its fluorescent keyboards, the eclectic kaleidoscopic vibes of Miguel, the synthesized eccentricity of experimentalists like Raymond Scott and Jean Jacques Perry. Or Hall and Oates after a trip to an Oregon strip club.
“This is how I express my creativity,” Valentine says. “I don’t want to be boxed into any one category. I know that’s what everyone needs to do to feel comfortable, but I can make reggae music, indie rock, whatever…Eugene is a document of what I was feeling at the time.”
What he was feeling was nostalgia for that bygone era when first discovered everything, the time when he hiked Spencer Butte, a Lane County landmark, on shrooms. The scratches, rubber-funk basslines, and knocking drums giving it a staunch hip-hop bedrock—the gorgeous harmonies, symphonic layering, and humid keyboards giving it the virtuosic grooves to appeal to a pop audience.
In spite of his youth, Valentine’s already a music veteran. The Eugene-raised artist started playing the drums at age 6. By 19, he rocked the Warped Tour with his band Medium Troy. He’s produced a full-length album for Planet Asia and De La Soul’s “God It” (featuring Nas). Along the way, he’s worked with Bun B, Devin the Dude, Juicy J, and Dilla’s younger brother, Illa J. His last placement is “Two Days,” on Interscope artist Boogie’s Thirst 48 Pt. II
Yet for all the head nodding music that he’s previously made, Valentine’s Eugene is a stark declaration of a singular talent. It’s the work of an artist fiercely aware of what made him, who he is, what he loves, and where he’s going. This is an album about growing older and falling in love with different things but never forgetting those memories, never forgetting the place you’ll always call home.