Interview with an MC - JVTree - Debut Album
I’ve known Jacob Valenti, JVTree, for almost a decade now - he was a friend of my step-brother’s when our parents got together. Throughout the years I’ve witnessed him go off the dome at high school parties, chillin with friends, sitting by a fire, even out at restaurants. The dude has more bars in his head than 2017 Lil Pump.
We’ve worked on a few tracks in the past few years, mainly just releasing them on SoundCloud, and one commercial release, “Who Cares?” - but we always had talks of working on a full project together. In 2019, we started putting together his debut album, “Welcome to Suburbia” - in order for you and I to get to know him better, I asked him some in depth questions about what got him to actually pursue this project, where the name came from, his influences, his background, and what he hopes to achieve coming into the music industry.
JVTree, that True Player For Real Man...we’ve been buds for almost a decade through my step-brother. I’ve always known you to be a prolific writer and we’ve done a few tracks together in the past...but what led you to actually pursue your first full-length album?
JVTree Da Tree Man Dat True Playa For Real but close enough . But I guess it was a mixture of things. I really love writing a lot, and nothing gives me the feeling making music gives me, but I was complacent and living a fast-paced lifestyle in a slow-moving town. I started realizing I wasn’t doing anything productive with my time. I thought everything would just come to me easily I guess, but things don’t work that way , and after a kick in the ass from a friend , a few books about the law of attraction and 2 months of following GaryVee on Instagram I just figured why not execute and spend my time and money on something I love instead of jerking it, playing Fortnite, and smoking weed..not that I haven’t done all three of those things in the past week. It’s just that I spend most of my free time thinking and working towards how to be a more complete artist and building a brand then I am on leisurely activities lol.
The album is titled “Welcome to Suburbia” - where’d this title come from?
I just wanted to make something true to myself, who I am, and where I’m from. To me, Welcome To Suburbia just captured that feeling perfectly, you know? It’s like ive seen kids try to rap and make music that are from here, but it’s like they are trying to pretend they are who they hear on the radio. I wanted people to know that’s not me. I wanna talk about the dumb shit me and my friends do and not act like I came from some shit life lol. Like, I fuck with my parents heavy they are dope af, and I’ve had an easy life. I really coulda made the title Malibu’s Most Wanted In Real Life haha, but I decided I could keep that in my back pocket for down the road.
A lot of your music is based on a “party boy” lifestyle, but there are always hints here and there of introspection and self-doubt that juxtaposes the confident, life of the party attitude. Does your writing go back and forth, or do you feel like there is a big difference from the newer things you’ve written versus the old?
I think I have just become more refined with my writing, and I practice song structure a lot more now - like writing hooks and bridges that are catchy and not just bars on bars. But as far as content, it’s like I went through a period of time where I was really unpredictable, and I lived my life through ultimate highs and ultimate lows. When I was happy, I was the happiest kid ever, but when I wasn’t, I was a fucking train wreck. About 2 years before I started actually putting Welcome To Suburbia together, I had a major introspective phase where I really learned to love myself, control my emotions, and figure out who I am as a person. I can confidently say I’m a better and healthier person than I was, and I think that translates into the music. I guess it’s just about growth and when you grow your music will. The album is based over a period of time between being 16 and now, so you will see where my head was in certain songs and where my head is now in others and hopefully grow with me throughout the project ! :)
Is there an industry artist and an industry producer that you’d love to work with?
I mean there are so many.... I really love my idols like Kendrick, 3Stacks, and Cole, but I really wanna work with upcoming playas like Jack Harlow and JID. I also recently been messing with this playa who makes alternative music named Oliver Tree, so holla when you wanna make that Family Tree tape boiii !!!
What got you introduced into hip-hop culture?
I started really trying to write raps after I smoked a joint and listened to Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings mixtape for real hahaha. After that, I went through my Eminem “Stan” stage, and then a kid named Sean Reynolds (RIP to my boy!) introduced me to A Tribe Called Quest and OutKast. After that, a buddy of mine, named Alex Curtis (shouts to tha homie ! ), introduced me to Nas. That was all right around the same time, and I swear after listening to It Was Written, Illmatic, Aquemini, and ATLiens for 3 months straight, I was just a way better more creative writer than I had ever been...and that’s how I really fully fell in love with the genre lol.
I know you’ve been freestyling at parties, bonfires, school, and more for a long, long time. I’ve noticed that you have a lot of supporters and fans despite such little music released. Do you think these things are related? Where does all this support come from, do you think?
I think the anticipation comes from talent, but I believe the support comes from just being a decent person, always networking, and trying to be cool with everyone - showing empathy and not treating anyone like a stranger. I gotta give that credit to my parents for raising me with good moral values and always treating people with respect. I’m so appreciative of all the support I’m getting, and the support from strangers. It’s such a humbling feeling, and I don’t even know how to react sometimes...but on the inside my heart is going crazy I promise haha.
I think some people could guess your influences upon listening to your music...but who do you think influences you that would surprise people?
I think it would be from people who aren’t hip hop artists like Anthony Kiedis [Red Hot Chili Peppers] and John Lennon [The Beatles], but as far as my newer stuff...I have really been inspired by artists like Lil Uzi Vert who are super experimental with their flows and cadences.
Favorite drink or liquor? Favorite party game?
I drink Jack and I smoke sativa. I don’t really smoke as much bud anymore - mainly just do dabs now. And man, it’s gotta be beer pong for life. It’s the millennial past-time of drinking games dawg haha.
What do you have planned for the next year following the release of “Welcome to Suburbia”?
I just hope people respond well to it first and foremost. But I would love to be able to do some shows, because I’ve never done a live performance (besides free styling at parties and shit haha). Hopefully elevate myself to the next level in the industry !!!
If you had to pick a favorite song off of your album, the song that you think people DEFINITELY need to listen to, what would it be?
I personally like “Supa Freak” a lot, because you get a little piece of every side of me, and I feel like we structured that song really well.
Any final thoughts?
I just wanna say “Thank You” to everyone who was a part of the album, starting with Jordan Murphy [Ash Matthews] for putting in countless hours mixing and mastering it to get it to sound right, and Derrick Swoveland for the fire ass beats. I wanna thank Chubb Dolla, Corey Gosset, Jexxi, and Dcasso for being part of the album and adding their piece to the puzzle. I wanna thank all the family and friends who have been supporting me during this process, and all the kids who sent me money on Venmo to put towards the album - without you guys none of this is possible and I appreciate each and every one of you more than you can know. Thank you so much!