Like millions of young suburban teens at the turn of the millennium, Josh Sallee watched rapt as a man in his late 20s with dyed-blond hair, a baggy white T-shirt and a dour expression rapped about his severe emotional confusion on MTVs Total Request Live.
The guy was Eminem, and the album he was promoting, The Slim Shady LP, became imprinted on Sallees elementary-aged brain.
I dont think that was when I thought, I want to be a rapper, said Sallee, the son of a church pastor. But Eminem was the first rapper I became a huge fan of.
Slim Shadys reception was mainstream Americas first full-on embrace of hip-hop, suddenly scooping a gigantic audience of young, suburban listeners seeking as always a new outlet for their angst. Now, that generation is in college or working its first job, and well-conditioned to the genres ubiquity in society.
In other words, conditions are perfect for a young,
talented rapper from the suburbs to make a living slinging hip-hop
online, and Sallees working to make sure that its for good.
it takes four years to blow up overnight, the 24-year-old University
of Central Oklahoma graduate said, citing Wiz Khalifa, who saw that much
time pass between signing with Warner Bros. and notching his first No. 1
hit. I want to do it the right way, though. I want it to last, like a
career I dont want it to make me go crazy.
Look at Stoney LaRue! What a great career! You get to travel where you want, make great
money, have a powerful voice. He probably has a wonderful family and he
doesnt have to worry about anything.
Sallees sophomore LP, the brand-new Probable Flaws, is
a decisive and exciting step forward that showcases the kind of chops,
connections and determination requisite of a professional musician. Its
release party is Friday night at Kamps Deli.
over 45 minutes, its 13 tracks run the gamut of thoughtful hip-hop,
whether playfully swooning over charming samples, speeding up for
maximalist bangers or tumbling into a narcotized, subwoofer-heavy beat
spiked with neon melodies.
Flaws tone is effusive, riding high on lyrics that entail what its like to be 24, talented and naturally optimistic. Its focused by his rapid-fire verses and supported by
production from his 23-year-old producer/roommate, Blev (né Courtney
Josh and I would go fishing and listen to [Lil Waynes] Tha Carter II, said Blevins, who befriended Sallee in fifth grade. We built a bond through [hip-hop].
Best of all, Sallee has
made it clear that hes moved beyond the collegeloving persona of songs
that populated both last years debut album, Return to Sender, and his 2010 mixtape, Honor Roll Accolades. Now hes committed to expressing a more mature self.
We wanted to send a message to the folks who liked Return to Sender, said Sallee. That Id grown up a little bit after So Chill, but that I still wanted to keep the club bouncing.
He also caught a fortuitous break.
Three of Flaws songs
were recorded at Atlantas illustrious Tree Sounds Studios under the
ear of multiplatinum hip-hop producer Groove Chambers, who invited
Sallee to his hallowed pop grounds unsolicited, via Twitter.
mom said, You should go to Atlanta tomorrow, so we drove 14 hours the
next day, said Sallee. Then we were recording where Adele had sang a
month before. It was just like, Wow, where am I?
Repping by rapping
in Bixby, Sallee moved to Oklahoma City to attend UCO, and has no plans
to return. Or head anywhere else, for that matter.
Im not done here in Oklahoma, he said. My names going to be attached to this state.
Probable Flaws does
more than just name-check his hometown. Sallee loves to mock popular
highbrow sentiment about the state in the middle of the map, on the
infectious OKC to KC.
of a Midwesterner raised on family values, Sallee expressed disdain for
nihilistic rappers like Odd Future and hollow characters like Mac
Miller. Instead, hes inspired by contemporaries like Portlands
superearnest Macklemore and the creative Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar.
And he doesnt use offensive language, either, giving listeners one less reason to hate on him.
dont want people to think Im clean cause of a God thing, he said.
I dont want to be like Jeremy Lin or Tim Tebow, where my beliefs are
at the forefront of my career. I want to become vulnerable to Oklahoma. I
want to come home to here.