Brooke Valentine: Southern Hospitality

It seems today that so many artists want to claim that they are the royalty of everything from Hip-Hop to Rock, but fans do not always agree. Bursting onto the exciting new scene of Crunk&B is Houston-born and raised sweetheart Brooke Valentine. She is here to prove that she doesn’t need the label of “Queen” or “Princess” to define her talent, because her skill will shine through on its own.

Brooke spoke with Alternatives about the release of her first single “Girlfight” featuring Big Boi and Lil’ Jon, and the release of her debut album Chain Letter - which is an eclectic mix of Rock, Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop. Ms. Valentine is out to prove that she is more than just a pretty face, and she is definitely going to make an impact. Alternatives: You have been labeled as the Princess of Crunk&B. What is your definition of Crunk&B?

Brooke: I am from the South, and down there we just love to get hyped and excited - it allows us to be free. When we say something is crunk, that doesn’t necessarily mean rowdy, it just means hype. Like you may go into a club in Houston and there will be a group of females all standing together and yellin‘ - not because they are rowdy but the music has given them energy, made them feel a certain way and it’s exciting. You may be like, ’Why are you yelling?’ and your girls will be like ’I don’t know’ - because that’s just how it is. That‘s how the music makes us feel.

AHHA: Your single is receiving major spins. How was it working with crunk genius Lil’ Jon?

Brooke: It was great, Jon is a wonderful person. He is very focused when it comes to creating and producing music. What’s really funny is we created ‘Girlfight’ while we were at a party he was throwing at his house in Miami. It was crazy because he was barbequing lobster and stuff on the grill, and then all of a sudden he started playing some music on his keyboards and we created and finished [‘Girlfight’] right then and there. It took about ten minutes for him to create the beat, and then we were back to partying. [laughs] Once I felt the vibe of the party and heard the track, I was like I got it and I laid the song down right there at his house.

AHHA: Was ‘Girlfight’ inspired by actual events? In this song and the video, you appear to be very ‘buck’…

Brooke: I know, but actually I am the opposite. I mean I did get into a lot of fights when I was younger because girls didn’t like me, but I never really started anything. I was too focused on singing and stuff to really be worried about how people felt about me. Looking back I guess that’s why I am able to stand a lot of pressures that I face in the industry, because I am focused and determined to do what I have been sent here to do.

AHHA: You worked with a lot of artists on your debut. How did you end up working with Big Boi for the single?

Brooke: Big Boi is very cool, but I didn’t get a chance to meet him until after the single was done. From what I hear, he heard the track and he wanted to get on, and he did, and it was great!

AHHA: You also have a single on your album, ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’, that features the late Dirt McGirt [ODB] How was it working with him?

Brooke: He was really great! He brought a lot of creative energy to the studio, and I was actually able to be more creative because of what he brought out. I really enjoyed working with Dirt and it is an experience I will never forget.

AHHA: Chain Letter covers every emotion and situation that any woman can go through. All this comes from personal experience?

Brooke: I pulled a lot of the inspiration from the way I felt about certain boyfriends. Like ‘I Want You Dead’ – no, I would never kill anyone or condone it, but I have definitely felt that way after he cheated on me. I think that because they come from my personal experiences that fans will love and appreciate the album even more, because I am giving them a chance to know me. I wrote every song on this album, so when you listen to it you are listening to a part of me. You will know how I felt at a certain point in my life, and that’s why I feel that it is real important for artists to write their own songs. As a fan, when I listen to music I feel that I am getting to know the artist. But when I find out that they didn’t write the song I love or that I felt helped me relate to them, then it is a real disappointment. I definitely think like a fan when I set out to do anything in my career.

AHHA: As a new artist, did you find it hard to remain true to yourself and sound?

Brooke: No. Not really, because when I set out to do this I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I also know what is me and who I am personally. That’s why from day one I had my hand in every aspect of my career. Working with Deja [Subliminal Entertainment], he taught me a lot about writing my own songs and everything that goes with managing my career. With that strong influence and my drive, I knew what I wanted and what I wanted sound I wanted to create. Although these producers worked with a lot of stars, I chose the ones that best fit in the circle that was to help me bring out my sound and I feel that we did.

AHHA: In a time when everyone is crowning themselves ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’ in music, what sets you apart from the crowd?

Brooke: I am just me. I am not the type of person who needs the titles. I mean you can call me the Princess of Crunk&B, or you can call me the Queen of whatever, and that won’t change the fact that I am still Brooke. I learned a long time ago that people are going to say whatever about you, but it doesn’t change who you are. The fact that people put titles on me doesn’t change the fact that I am here to make great music.