When Kanye West selected the instrumental that would later be used for his new single “All Day” he had no idea that it was crafted by his biggest fan. Kingston, NY-bred singer/songwriter/rapper/producer Velous caught a big break when Ye’ chose his beat as a backdrop for his spitfire flows for his new single from his upcoming album So Help Me God. Now, he is ready to introduce himself to the world as a visionary in the making.
Velous is more than just the beatsmith behind “All Day.” The 23-year-old is an one-man band who is eager to infuse his music with nostalgic vibes that old-schoolers gush about and artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson are praised for. He was signed to French Montana’s Coke Boyz imprint, by a way of Swanky Music Group, last year and is gearing up to release an album of his own. AllHipHop.com caught up with the young beatsmith to talk about his musical upbringing, what he is currently working on and what he thought about Lionel Richie bashing “All Day.”
How did you first get into music?
I’ve been doing music my whole life. I came from a very musical family. Istarted pretty young. My dad, he passed away, but he was a musician. My mom was a singer, so that’s how I got into that. I don’t know where rapping came from. That came out of no where. It started rapping after I heard Kanye’s ‘Through the Wire.” I was 11. That’s when i first really fell in love with trying to rap. But it was mostly natural. The musicianship is natural. I started getting into production around the same time.
What age did you start playing instruments?
Ever since I developed enough motor skills to move my hands.
What was the first instrument you picked up?
The drums were first and then the piano and I started playing the guitar when I was 12. One day I was not playing and then the next week I was playing anything I could hear. My dad started me on the drums young. My mom would definitely coach me and teach me things about technique but it was all pretty natural. I was in a jazz ensemble in high school but I didn’t read music like everybody else. I just got by by my ear.
Who bought your first beats?
It was a local folk artist. The first person in the industry that I started working with was Mistah F.A.B. I had did a song called “Martin and Gina.” This was a while ago. But the first artist I really gave my beats to was myself.
How did you get the name Velous?
I used to produce some guys around the town where I’m from around when I was 15. After school I would go straight there and play on the piano and he came in one day and he was like “man, that’s marvelous!” Then I started calling myself Mar-Velous. But two days later my boys was like “you’re Velous, bump that Mar s**t.”
How did you meet Kanye West?
I didn’t. I’ve never met Ye’ in person. I met Kim before. I’ve met all the Kardashian sisters but I’ve haven’t met Kanye yet. I’m sure it will happen. It could happen right now, especially with the relationship that him and French have.
Right, because French Montana is the one who gave Kanye the “All Day” beat.
Yes, French is very involved in the co-production. [“All Day”] had co-production between me, Kanye and French. But yea, he played that for him. Him and Kanye had like five of my beats but that was the one that was the money ball.
Do you know if any of those beats will be on Kanye’s So Help Me God album?
It’s possible. Maaaybe. I’ve worked with Kanye’s artist and someone else that produces for Kanye, Travi$ Scott.
Did you see what Lionel Richie had said about “All Day?” If so, thoughts?
I’ve heard about it. I like Lionel Richie. He’s a great songwriter. He’s entitled to his own opinion and obviously we’re from different times and I understand where he is coming from. The time that he’s from, he witnessed things that my generation didn’t get a chance to witness. A lot of people in my generation don’t necessarily understand exactly what he could be thinking because he witnessed that. I love Lionel Richie’s music. I think he’s one of the greatest songwriters and artists of all time.
I know that you’re signed to Coke Boys/Swanky Music Group. How did you meet French Montana?
A friend of mine had introduced me to French’s manager, who is my manager as well. Gaby was interested in managing me and we had met at the Cheesecake Factory. After that, he played my music for French. I was interested in having a record with French and it turned from me wanting to have a record with French to French wanting me to be a part of the camp.
Who are your influences?
Kanye West. Kanye Omari West. (laughs) Pharrell Williams, The Neptunes, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson. I like James Taylor. There’s so many people. I’m influenced by everything, every genre. That’s a big part of my versatility and sound. Just taking everything and putting it together. I do see the beauty in all creativity. I may not like everything I hear but I accept all genres.
Who has been your favorite to work with so far?
It varies because I like working with different people for a lot of different reasons. I love working on production with Boi-1da and Vinylz. Obviously I like working with my camp. That’s the home team. One of the Coke Boys, Zack, I like working with him in the studio. We have a certain vibe. That’s actually French’s brother. He has a dope record out right now called “Quiet On the Set.” I like Ty Dolla Sign. I was rocking with Ty Dolla Sign before he was out. Me and him actually have a song out with DJ SpinKing right now. I enjoy working with Fabolous as well. He’s always been one of my favorite rapper. Fab is classic. To have a vibe like that and be a young guy, like I just love being around Fab.
Who else are some of your favorite artists?
There are so many. Kanye and Pharrell…I like so many that I wouldn’t know where to start. I appreciate music.
Name some of your dream collaborations.
Definitely Jay Z, definitely Beyonce. I love Jhene Aiko. She’s somebody I would love to work with. I just want to work with everybody. I want to be to my generation what Pharrell was to me…and what Stevie Wonder was to my parents.
Are you still releasing a free album called Velocity this summer?
It’s not Velocity. I’m dropping The Disco. I changed the name.
What inspired the name change?
Growth definitely had something to do with it. I never put a project out so until you put a project out it’s an idea until then. The Disco came from a lot of people calling me Disco Vel or young Disco. They call me that because they’re like “oh he has the records. That’s disco.” So I’m running with that. I was also inspired by this one time I went to this club and Q-Tip was DJing and Flex was DJing. Q-Tip had pulled out some records-between Q-Tip and Flex it was just one of the most amazing nights I’ve ever experienced-that I had never heard before. It was all disco records. He played records I knew. One of my favorite records of all time is Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” but because of the generation I’m in, I’ve never been able to sip a drink be in the club and vibe to Stevie in the club. That was opportunity to do that and I was just like with my new sound I want to rebrand what disco is. I’m looking at this as the rebranding and revival of disco but it doesn’t sound like disco. It’s me saying what I think it would be now; what it would have grown to.
Do you know who will be featured on there yet?
I have a few collaborations for that album but I want to leave it as a surprise. I’ll say this. Definitely the big bro French is on the album.
What is the Coke Boys team working on?
We’re working on French Montana’s album. That’s coming real soon. Chinx just dropped his album CR 5. I produced the first single “Dope House” featuring Jadakiss. Zack is getting ready to drop his EP and I’m getting ready to drop.
Are any other singles that you’ve produced coming out before The Disco?
There’s a couple of things coming up but I don’t like to say anything. I like to let the artist announce it.