Hip-Hop Interview Music

D. Valor Brings Fresh Sounds to Competitive Music Production Market

D. Valor | Still from a sit-down interview by: Hensley Carrasco

D. Valor brings mix of New York-style boom bap to an eclectic mix of production styles.

The trials and tribulations of up-and-coming musicians have always been prevalent regardless of market, but with artists such as D. Valor, it’s all earned.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, David Valerio–professionally known as D. Valor–has found his calling in music. Being that Providence, R.I.’s music scene is as diverse as any other city, having the title as the country’s smallest state has turned into a challenge to beat the odds and get the celebrity the content so richly deserves. Deciding to become a musician, Valor has understood the challenge and has been more than willing to undertake it.

Before finding his current moniker, Valor went through a couple of different names and musical phases before finally settling on his current alias and producing at a much more serious level.

D. Valor's official logo
D. Valor’s official logo

“I been through too many names in my musical journey,” Valor said. “[D. Valor] actually just came from me trying to be very very natural to myself…The raw definition of valor is somebody honorable…with musical integrity. I try to keep a lot of my mind and life throughout that [because] that’s what I came from, valor.”

Though the definition of producing has been nuanced throughout the last couple of years, the very core of it resides around the art of creating a skeleton for a song–in some instances–and holding its own right as a complete track in others. From likes of the late Nujabes, the late J Dilla to producers such as Sango and KAYTRANADA, the art of providing music without the need of an artist has not been forgotten. The ability to create a production that separates itself from the overwhelming market of music is a challenge, but one Valor embraces with his versatility.

“I’m definitely able to adapt to a lot of different styles,” Valor said. “I’m not only biased to boom bap. I really love everything because [it all] brings its own specific type of energy.”

D. Valor previews an unreleased beat

Boom bap, a sub-genre in hip-hop music production, has its roots in New York and embraces the kick and snare drum’s “boom” and “clap” sound within the production; where the name was derived from. Boom bap dominated 1990s hip-hop and has since fallen off, but artists such as Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson have revived the genre. Though many artists have rapped on boom bap beats, not many of them use it as their sole production choice. “I follow a lot of one generation of hip-hop that I really really enjoy,” Valor said.

“I…brand myself with ‘Make the beat bang’ because I feel like as an artist in general, if it’s not going to be quality then you should never even create it”

Influences

Influences come from many different artists, life experiences and music types. Valor finds his influences to come from Nujabes, 9th Wonder, Rockafella-era Kanye West and Madlib, to newer producers such as Mike WiLL Made-It, to name a few.

Crafting a beat can take minutes to hours to days. Valor, much like many other producers, invest time into their music to have a high-quality production. At times, beats are created from scratch, but many use the art of crate digging. Crate digging is the act of discovering music and older samples to use for music. The term originated when producers would literally dig through crates of vinyls and pick out records to listen to and find samples that way. With the increase of music being available on a digital platform, the art of crate digging has moved electronically for some, but others such as Valor, going through crates manually is a rewarding feeling.

“I definitely say I’m a crate digger,” he said. “But like I’m also a millennial as well, so I am spoiled. I started crate digging…through listening to older music and getting it from CDs. That’s where I really started.”

He said one of his friends introduced him to sampling music from different genres of music and that’s where he began. He said that because he has been crate digging for so long, he knows where he wants to look for samples. However, the samples don’t always come from music. Recently, one of his good friends gave him a Richard Pryor record.

“Comedy,” he said. “People don’t know what you can do with that shit. They’ll [say] I’m gonna listen to this shit and laugh. Me, you know, I’ll let this jam out and everything right now [when] everyone’s listening. As a producer [I think] I can get some mean vocal samples out of that.”

D. Valor Explains How He Chose Songs for “Valordictorian’s” beattape

With his influences, Valor has begun to perfect his craft. In 2016, he released his debut project Valordictorian­­­­’s—a play on his name. He said he wasn’t particularly looking to release a project, but being a fan of having a lot of work, Valor had around 60 beats to choose from for the project. He wasn’t looking to slap together a bunch of beats into an album and call it his project, he wanted to “work from the beginning to the end.

D. Valor
D. Valor holds up a painting that doubles as the cover art for his beat tape “Valordictorian’s.”

“It kinda told a little bit of a story,” Valor said. “The way I put it together, there wasn’t a couple of seconds after every beat to give you time to breathe. It’s automatically switching to something else.”

Wanting to provide that effect to his project, Valor made the decision to make Valordictorian’s 24-tracks long.

“You have to listen to the whole thing”

Reception

Feedback, as is true with most releases by any artist was an important factor for him. Compared to the feedback received as a rapper, Valor said the reception of his music as a producer is “really different” than what he received as a rapper.

“I love the criticalness,” Valor said. “I’m just like ‘you could have done more with this’ and if somebody tells me that I’m like ‘really?’ You sit back [and think] ‘you know what? I probably could’ve done more with that.’”

This is one of the reasons Valor finds himself taking longer to finish his projects. He listens to his music wherever he goes through iPhones, speakers, headphones or even his car to ensure the music he created and is listening to is good enough to put out.

As he was with his last project, Valor is currently working on the release of his upcoming beat tape. The tentative release date for the project is Spring 2017, but its always up for change. His vision and his passion continue to drive his eagerness to put out content and his momentum won’t cease anytime soon.

D. Valor Talks About New Project Releasing Spring

Valor has helped reshape events in Rhode Island to be geared toward local artists. He has an event he helps coordinate and plan called “The Shelter,” that serves as a showcase for local talent. The venue he chooses to have the event, AS220–located in the downtown area of Providence–heavily supports the arts. AS220 is “an artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts” and there artists–in this case–can perform original music that doesn’t include commercialized instrumentation. “The Shelter” was last put on in January to a large crowd and the next show will be on March 28.

You can follow D. Valor on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud – @DValorOfficial

Hensley Carrasco

Hensley graduated from the University of Rhode Island where he was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Good 5 Cent Cigar. He founded the site with hopes to add to the ever-growing digital music newsroom. Hensley generally writes about Hip-Hop, but other genres are not out of his writing spectrum. On the side, Hensley is a photographer, specializing in concert photography.

About the author

Hensley Carrasco

Hensley graduated from the University of Rhode Island where he was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Good 5 Cent Cigar. He founded the site with hopes to add to the ever-growing digital music newsroom. Hensley generally writes about Hip-Hop, but other genres are not out of his writing spectrum. On the side, Hensley is a photographer, specializing in concert photography.

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