Joey Valence & Brae Are Breathing New Life Into a Classic Sound
Honestly, Joey Valence teaming up with Braeden Lugue, more popularly known as Brae, is precisely what any modern-day Beastie Boy fan needed. The longtime multi-genre producer, vocalist, and DJ's partnership with the electrifying emcee are single-handedly bringing back and modernizing the traditional hip-hop sounds of the '80s and '90s in a way that's never been done before and still honors its roots. What began as two college kids goofing around in their bedroom studio has become a palpable phenomenon, with their music reaching millions worldwide.
Valence and Brae first met during their freshmen year at Penn State. The two became fast friends and started to work on songs together, writing over various rap beats and seeing what worked. In an interview with CommRadio, Valence shared, "We would write stupid lyrics to songs just to be funny. One of those times where we were just being silly turned into 'Crank It Up,' that was the first song that we released together, and I put it on TikTok, and it just blew up. It was two kids laughing and making a song together." Taking inspiration from the things they love the most: old-school hip-hop from The Beastie Boys, Heavy D, and Quad City DJs, anime, and video games, Valence used his 12 years of writing and producing experience to create something unique alongside his creative partner.
In March 2021, Valence submitted his verse from the song to an online talent show and won the contest receiving $10,000 to help further the duo's creative pursuits and eventually drop their debut single on April 8, 2021. After this, the duo convinced their parents to let them pursue music more seriously. Given six months to prove themselves, they did exactly that as both of their mothers watched them perform front row on Ellen, but more on that later. In May 2021, they would drop the second single of their collaboration, "Underground Sound," featuring an instrumental style, flow, and lyrical style popularized by The Beastie Boys in the '80s, especially on their song "Sure Shot."
The 22-year-olds continued to grind by releasing two more singles, "Like What" and "I'm Fresh," before striking internet GOLD with the release of their song "Double Jump" in December 2021. The pair released a TikTok to help promote the track they planned to release later that month, showcasing their clever lyricism and high-energy antics. The internet quickly sunk its teeth in, and millions of views later, they found themselves heading to the West Coast for the first time to perform the single live on The Ellen Show. The TikTok has since gained 18 million views, and the single comfortably sits with 3 million streams on Spotify.
Valence and Brae kicked off 2022 with the release of their debut EP, The Underground Sound, all while continuing to record out of Joey's bedroom, pushing their creativity with limited gear and budget. They dropped the dramatic and bombastic "Punk Tactics" in April 2022, featuring prominent brass samples that escalate throughout the song to build tension and aggressive hardcore-style lyrics full of Mortal Kombat and Skate references. "You put a lot of your culture, personality, and things you grew up with into your music," Valence shared in an interview with NME. "For a lot of people, especially those like us that grew up in the '90s, gaming is such a huge part of our identity. There's always going to be a link between video game culture and music culture, and it's always fun to hear it come full circle."
Valence and Brae show no signs of slowing down anytime soon, heralding the next chapter of their journey with the release of the infectious "Hooligan" and guitar-driven "Startafight." Valence and Brae's unique vocals, production, style, and high-energy antics, coupled with a masterful use of social media, continuously solidify them as a standout amongst their closest peers. Their hard work and authentic spirit shine through in all of the viral videos, memes, and songs they've created, breathing a new, refreshing life into a classic sound that is only further elevated by their comedic personalities and impressive creative intuition.