D.Valor is a producer responsible for many hip hop events around the city. Pyrex Lex is one of the hottest emcees who’s opened up for acts like Jadakiss, DMX, and more. Watch D.Valor make the beat bang with his LIT production set and Pyrex tell you why Providence is the most underrated city in rap today.
INTERVIEW WITH D. VALOR & PYREX LEX
(Interview conducted and written by Connor Sullivan)
Q: Can you tell us about your history with AS220?
D. Valor: AS220 was kind of my birthplace of music, in a sense. I did a lot of stuff like community arts when I was younger at The Met and I got to learn how to use different programs and everything. Exploring my independent music side, what I personally feel I wanted to create and how to be different, a lot of that was through going to the AS220 open mics that they used to have every other Wednesday a couple of years ago. Going there all the time, I was able to have a lot of fun, creatively. So from there, I’ve been going to AS220 for around ten years now, as somebody who made music, and then somebody who stopped music, and now as a curator and producer.
Q: Can you speak to the collective of Providence artists that emerged out of The Met high school?
D. Valor: I think it’s really, really lit! It’s definitely nice seeing familiar faces all the time. All of us know each other and we’ve made our own independent lanes. It’s beautiful knowing that so many people are coming together to contribute to the city, the scene, and the music industry in general through affiliations with high schools like that. Taking it back to AS220 too, since we were all able to access this space and utilize it we were been able to put together a lot of events and network with people. I started coming back into the musical side of my life last year. Once I came back and contacted AS220, they were very, very welcoming and people remembered me. And I was actually on Foo Fest 2011 as Manny Headphones!
Q: You work mainly as a producer, but can you speak to being an artist yourself?
D. Valor: I’m like a producer/artist. I feel like most producers should be comfortable making beat sets and stuff like that and eventually come into the DJ end, too. DJ’ing created early sampling which made a lot of hip-hop production, you know? I’m not gonna say my DJ skills are all crazy yet or anything, I’m still working towards it and eventually I’ll incorporate it more into my sets. Being a performer, it doesn’t matter if you’re a vocalist, playing live instruments, playing live beats/DJ’ing… if you can rock a crowd, you can rock a crowd. You can rock a crowd as a dancer, really! Same shit.
Q: Can you recount your first AS220 show?
D. Valor: My first AS220 show was by accident. With Lunchbagg, ’cause at the time Lunchbagg did, like, metal. Me and one of my best friends were at his show, we were all cool and went to The Met, with hip hop CD’s and one of the acts couldn’t make it and they were like “Hey, do you guys want to perform?”. So, it happened completely by accident. We were the one hip hop act on a metal show!
Q: How did you find Pyrex?
D. Valor: You know, it started off from AS220 again, right? There was a poetry jam last year. One of our mutual friends, NICE / Nyuanru, he had just gotten the Pusha T thing where he was rapping for him and he got on Complex. So, he did the poetry slam the same day it was buzzin’, and it was dope. We all went and checked it out and everything. I met him and it was like “Oh shit, you’re Pyrex Lex!”. I asked him if we could work, I sent him some beats and shit. He didn’t get back about the beats because he was already busy doing other stuff. I was like “Fuck, you don’t wanna fuck with my beats? That sucks! Screw this guy!”. Then he dropped his track “No Hook” and I couldn’t be a hater, the track was actually hot, and then eventually we met up through his producer and from there we’ve become really cool and have made our own magic together.
Q: (same as above)
Pyrex Lex: At AS220…he had already sent me the beats, and at AS220 I seen him and was like “Oh shit, you’re Valor, right?” He goes “Yeah.”. I was drunk. I was like “Yo, check this shit out that I just wrote!” and he literally just looked at me and walked away. I said “Yo, fuck this kid. I’m definitely not hopping on his fuckin’ beats.”. One day, my producer Clockwork said “Yo, I’m gonna go to Valor’s crib.” and when I came there I had a whole new outlook on who he was, what he does as a producer, and his talents. I was inspired, so it really kicked off there once we got to sit down with each other and vibe out. After that, we’ve been cookin’, cookin’, cookin’, cookin’.
Q: What song are you most proud of?
Pyrex Lex: I have to say “Passive.” Just because it’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve never been that vulnerable on a record. The beauty about that record is that I didn’t write it about anyone. He had played the beat and I just got into a feeling and put myself in the shoes of someone in a passive aggressive relationship. That’s the worst — you’re always beating around the bush and there’s always unanswered questions.
Q: Do you feel that to be an effective artist you need to show a little vulnerability?
Pyrex Lex: Yeah, I think you have to show people that you’re human. Like, this isn’t just a facade or a front — this is who I am, this is my spirit talking on these records. I’m not the type of rapper where you could be like, “Yo! Spit some freestyles right now!”. No. I can freestyle, don’t get me wrong. It’s just something that comes out of me, especially with my writing. If I’m in a good energy when it comes to writing, each line comes right after the other. I wrote “Passive” in, what, twenty minutes? All my best records have been written fast. Ten minutes, twenty minutes. But there’s times when I’ll last two weeks on a record. It’s all about the energy. The best time to write for me is in the morning, right when I wake up. I’ll put the headphones on and write by myself in my room. That’s when it’s the most effective. I really get to thinking and put myself in other people’s shoes. It’s not all about me, but people around me who are going through shit. We’re human, so everything we go through, someone has been through, or gotten through. I think music is a great way to express yourself and help people understand that you’re not the only one going through some shit right now.