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From the Bay to L.A. with J. Valentine

Music 03 Mar 2011   »   by TheWhatItDo

Hard work. Focus. Respect. These are the attributes J. Valentine [1] values most in the music industry. A San Francisco native, this singer/songwriter/producer is “the perfect blend of real R&B – authentic, yet soulful with a sexy edge.” [2] His accomplishments in the music business are astounding, having worked with artists Tyrese, Mario, Keri Hilson, and ‘NSync. The WHATITDO team caught up with Valentine to chat about his upbringing, lessons learned in the business, and future endeavors.

TWID: As Pacific Islanders, we are very proud of who we are and where we come from. Tell me about where you come from and how it has influenced you as a musician.

JV: I’m from the Fillmore District in San Francisco, which is very rich in music from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and all those guys that were a part of that whole movement back in the ‘70s. My mother grew up in that influence so I was exposed to a lot of that music coming up. And just the Fillmore District, period, is very rich in music as far as happening jazz bars and just different places that are down there. So I think my music is definitely influenced by all those things that come from that area.

Sometimes you gotta have people jumping up and down and yelling and screaming about it before other people pay attention to it.


TWID: How did you come to realize that you wanted to be a musician?

JV: Well my father was big with music. He came from the streets and so he wanted us to have something else. He exposed us to music really early because he had a lot of friends that were in music. He wanted to expose us to music because it was something that he didn’t have a chance to do [himself]. It came from his vision and in a sense started off with a passion that he had and something that we just love, actually, because . . . music was just everywhere around as far as our house and everyone that we dealt with.

TWID: We, meaning you and your siblings?

JV: Yeah, me and my brothers and sisters. My brother actually is a part of my writing production team. I was in a kid group when I was younger. We started off with a kid group, dancing and singing, and street performing, performing at Fisherman’s Wharf, all those crazy things when we were younger.

TWID: In your bio, it says that you are a singer/songwriter/producer? Which one of these came first? Or did it all happen at once?

JV: For me, I actively do all of them all the time. There were times where I was a little more focused on the writing and production side because I love writing songs; to me, it’s the best way . . . to let out experiences. It’s cool to see somebody else singing something that was a vision of yours. I feel like I actively do them all.

TWID: Would you say, then, that you’re most passionate about songwriting?

JV: No, I wouldn’t say that. I would say that songwriting would probably be the one thing that I would do forever no matter what. The singing thing, like, I would do it for a time period. I can’t see myself being in Vegas at 65 singing – it’s just not me. I would rather be somewhere raising my family and writing songs for other people. I love doing them all, but I just see myself [writing songs] the longest.

TWID: What are some of the biggest lessons that you have learned as a singer/songwriter/producer?

JV: Respect everybody no matter what they do. I think that’s just a life lesson. It doesn’t matter if it’s the owner of a company or if it’s the secretary; just show people respect. Also, remain humble and show everybody love. It’s been the most important thing for me because I feel like people have always wanted to work with me and were always being on the look out for me at times.

With the ‘NSync album, that really came from me meeting Justin [Timberlake] and him saying, “Yo, J’s cool. Call him and tell him to stop by the studio and help with the album.” Calling me in and letting me help with the album (Celebrity) was a life-changing experience.

TWID: Tell us more of your latest mixtape, Love & Other Drugs.

JV: It’s a mixtape but it’s . . . a form of an album. It’s more of an experience. With mixtapes, they have songs where they, you know, jack the beat and redo stuff over the top. With Love & Other Drugs, it’s nine original records and two remixes. I remade Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Anniversary” and then myself, TANK, my brother, Bobby, and our partner, Texx, did a Song Dynasty version of Jodeci’s “Cry for You.”

TWID: What is your advice for anyone who is trying to get into the music industry?

JV: I think the biggest advice that I could give anybody is to constantly perfect your craft. There’s an audience for everything. In my opinion, just keep watching and figure out where you fit. Figure out what your lane is. I think it’s cool when somebody’s good at a lot of things but I think it’s better when somebody’s great at one thing. They can perfect that and they can be known for it.

TWID: Do you think any kind of genre (Urban Island), if it’s backed up by some group of people, that it could break into mainstream music? Do you think that’s possible?

JV: Absolutely. I think the biggest thing is strength in numbers. That’s something that I’ve always seen that the Polynesian people have. For one, you guys love what you guys do. Whatever it is, you guys get behind it and support it. After a while, other people feel like, why aren’t we supporting it? Sometimes you gotta have people jumping up and down and yelling and screaming about it before other people pay attention to it.

If an R&B artist such as J. Valentine believes in Urban Island music making a breakthrough into mainstream music, we, the Urban Island artists and fans need to make noise. We have the strength in numbers; we just need to harness that strength to push a genre such as Urban Island into the mainstream.

J. Valentine was on point with his music industry expertise and advice. He is genuine lover of music and a true believer in hard work, focus, and respect. Stay up to date with Valentine on Facebook, Twitter, and his official website. You can find his latest single “I Love My Baby Mama” on iTunes, but be on the lookout for the album Love & Other Drugs this summer.

Article Written By: Pesi Kava

[1] YouTube video “She Worth the Trouble” by ingrooves

*Article Photo courtesy of

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