Joey Abate ‘23, Photo Editor
On April 8, 2021, Penn State grads Joey Valence and Braeden Lugue submitted their song “Crank It Up” into a song competition as a joke. However, to their surprise, what simply began as two college kids goofing around in their bedroom studio, quickly became a hit online, reaching millions of people with their music.
In the month prior to their submission, Valence had presented his verse from the song to an online talent show and won the $10,000 prize, further helping the duo’s creative pursuits. They were then able to eventually drop their debut single in the next month. Shortly after, the duo convinced their parents to let them pursue music more seriously. Given just a mere six months to prove themselves, they managed to do exactly that as both of their mothers watched them perform front row on The Ellen Show.
Their ambitions range wildly from acquiring the biggest Pokémon collection in the world to collaborating with other rappers like Denzel Curry and Tyler, The Creator. 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.”
Their second single, “Underground Sound,” released in May 2021, features a style, flow, and lyrical style popularized by The Beastie Boys in the ’80s, specifically “Sure Shot.” The two rising stars followed up by releasing two more singles before finding great success with their iconic song “Double Jump” in December 2021. The track tastefully captures their clever lyricism and high-energy antics, making many video game and pop culture references that seemed to enwrap fans into their unique flow and style. Moreover, with the help of the TikTok algorithm gaining them millions of views, they found themselves heading to the West Coast for the first time to perform “Double Jump” live on The Ellen Show. The original TikTok has since gained 18 million views, and the single sits with about three million streams on Spotify.
During April the duo found their staple. Valence and Lugue released their single that surpassed any achievement they made so far, titled “Punk Tactics” which reached a whopping 38 million streams on Spotify. The track features prominent aggressive brass samples that escalate throughout the song in order to build intensity to their lyrics that are filled with pop culture references. “You put a lot of your culture, personality, and things you grew up with into your music,” Valence explained in an interview with New Musical Express. “For many 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.”
After releasing four more songs after “Punk Tactics,” Valence and Lugue found themselves collaborating with hit American rapper Logic on their track “Tanaka 2.” Arguably the most significant achievement the fresh duo has accomplished is how they toured across the United States and all over Europe during the second half of 2022, connecting with their audience. It is very refreshing to see small artists blow up and still have a personal connection with their fans, new and old alike. After taking a small break to work on more tracks, Valence and Lugue cannot be held back from their creativity, as they have already kickstarted their second tour to date.
One of the best feelings is witnessing your favorite small artist finally get the recognition they deserve. Fans have seen Valence and Lugue grow so fast while just having fun and not caring about what anyone else thinks as they write some of the “hardest bars to date,” repaving the sound of old-school hip-hop for future generations to enjoy.