“I think that if you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be chasing after people who don’t love you either. And that’s something that I hold onto, because you attract what you give, you know. You have to love yourself. Even if there are things that you don’t love about yourself, you have to learn to accept them, because otherwise no one around you is going to accept them either.”
VALI’s opinion on the importance of self-love shows through the way she carries herself as an artist. Even in her music, she encourages others to take charge of their lives. In her eyes, there’s nothing to gain from looking at situations in a negative light and treating oneself as unworthy. “Sometimes you meet people, and you can tell that they’re judging you or they’re not accepting of you,” Vali explains. “In the past, I had been in relationships where I allowed that to happen. Now, I don’t even let that in my circle. As long as you have that love for yourself and set the bar, then anything and anyone that doesn’t fit it just doesn’t fit it. You have to be able to let those people go,” she admits.
Not long ago, these ideals that Vali stands by turned into the song “Ain’t No Friend of Mine,” a collaboration between herself and producer T-Baby. “We were bouncing thoughts off of each other as far as what we didn’t like—friends who are shady and situations that are shady—but we also focused on the fact that we were gonna rise above it all,” Vali shares. “And that’s why the line, ‘every morning I feel summertime,’ comes in,” she describes.
At first, the meaning of the track was quite literal, but she slowly realized that it wasn’t just about people; it could be applied to situations and events as well. “Even cyberbullying and politics,” Vali lists. “That’s where I ended up taking the record. After performing it so many times, I realized that, more broadly, it’s against all kinds of hate,” she emphasizes.
A prime example would be the entertainment world itself: Vali hopes that artists can see each other as fellow members of the industry rather than as competition, and she believes that recognizing each other as equals would be an important milestone. “If you look at the top musicians in our industry, they’re all black,” Vali references. “I think that says a lot. You know, Beyoncé. It doesn’t get bigger than Beyoncé. What Rihanna has done with the fashion industry. What Viola Davis has done with acting. Unfortunately, I feel like there’s a divide in entertainment because we make it divided. But if you look at the grand picture, everyone is just as talented as everybody else. I think it’s important for us to come together and stop the separating, because that’s all coming from within the industry,” she reflects.
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WORDS: ELIZABETH LOO