Fire Starter: Vali
Essential Info: Vali sort of has her head in the clouds. Normally, that would be a bad thing, but the New York native is looking to fully capitalize on the air up there. On Tuesday, the pop singer dropped her debut EP, Kiss the Sky, a fitting title since she planted the seeds for her deal with Rostrum Records while flying 35,000 feet in the air.
Kelly Valentina Porter, Vali for short, started out as a backup dancer for Nitty, an early act on Benjy Grinberg's Rostrum Records, but the spunky vocalist, who has been writing and recording since high school, yearned for something more. At first, she went unnoticed, but Vali would eventually earn her wings. "Benjy didn't talk to me because I was just a dancer, but then magically, I ended up sitting next to him on a plane," Vali recalled to Mixtape Daily.
The random seating arrangement paid off, and during that flight, Vali played Grinberg some of her demos, which piqued his interest. He then introduced Valentina to a young, up-and-coming Wiz Khalifa, and the two would collaborate on "Sometimes" and "I Chose You," two tracks on the "Black and Yellow" MC's 2006 indie album, Show and Prove.
"I was just learning how to write," Vali said of her early collaborations with her Rostrum labelmate. "I was singing in studios that were just closets or small, little places ... but that doesn't matter. If you have a good hook, you have a good hook — you can record anywhere."
The early lessons proved valuable. Kiss the Sky is full of cleverly written love odes that are both playful and catchy. "Polaroid" is a cute poke at the paparazzi, and on "Ben 'n Jerry," Vali finds herself having to choose between two lovers, with two very distinct flavors. "I want to have my cake and eat it too/ Don't blame me if I want a double scoop," she sings.
"Top of the World" is a larger-than-life fist-pumper, while "Muah" is a reggae-tinged flirt fest. The ID Labs-produced "Light the Sky" is a toast to the single life, and the Juicy J-assisted "Bon Voyage" gives the EP a nice hip-hop touch. "I really admire Juicy J. He's the hardest-working person I've met in my entire life. He does not sleep," Vali said of her hyped-up collaborator.
In all, Kiss the Sky is a pretty impressive trip. "My life has been very much a journey and flying," Vali said. "Even how I met Benjy on an airplane, it's really weird. It all kind of ties together in this flight."
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