Meet Top Oklahoma Rapper & Producer
Oklahoma singer/rapper/producer, Josh Sallee has been a staple in the state’s music scene for nearly a decade. It started with a viral video of him rapping in Kevin Durant’s studio and grew into a full-on career. He recently was hand-selected to be a part of Timbaland’s new digital-production venture, Beatclub. The opportunity landed his song “Overdrive” as a featured record during the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has toured with names like Modsun, Vic Mensa, G-Eazy, Tory Lanes, Alex Wiley, and more. His album Hush Hush debuted at #30 on the iTunes Music Charts.
His song “Pressure” was featured on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior”, and the song “Sheesh” was used in the promotional hype video for the professional football team, the Minnesota Vikings, and their playoff run campaign. His song “Way It Is” was featured on MTV’s “Road Rules Challenge.” Sallee produces and records nearly all of his music and even directed K.A.A.N.’s video for “Phoenix” which has amassed nearly 6 million views on Youtube. The do-it-all creative looks to expand his voice with his upcoming album, “Flamingo,” set to release in Winter 2022.
Meet and Get To Know Josh Sallee
Kulture Vulturez: Now you just released your latest song, “’95 Jordan,” can you break that song down? How did that come about and what inspired the record?
Josh Sallee: So for me, the record itself kind of goes over my life story and all that. Really it was at a time when I was kind of transitioning in my music career, like with what I wanted to do. If I wanted to continue a solo career, and I had kind of started finding a lot of success on the production side. I kind of dove into that. Through this record, I found my love again for what I was doing and for my own solo records. It was kind of like that moment when M.J. (Michael Jordan) was going through shit and went and played baseball. He came back and it was just this whole thing when he did. So, it was kind of building off of that idea.
Kulture Vulturez: There’s a video of you going viral, rapping at Kevin Durant’s studio. Was that the moment that led you to start your career?
Josh Sallee: So, I had just graduated college. Oklahoma City was a lot smaller than it is now, but K.D. (Kevin Durant) was just interested in hip hop, and interested in production. They started coming to our shows because we were bringing out a bunch of big names. He kind of became a friend. One day I was at the house and was like, “Hey, you want to hear some of my beats?” We just kind of took advantage of the moment. I was like, “I can rap to this,” and luckily my manager at the time was right there and recorded it.
I went on Twitter and was like, ‘I wonder if @KD would let me drop this video of me freestyling.’ He was like, “Do it.” Him even saying do it was a big deal. Then it went viral. The next thing I know, I was on like all the news stations here. It was just like, this can be a thing, this can be a career if I really want to go at it and play my cards right. It was like pretty lucky in a sense. We had been doing the right things to kind of get his attention. It was crazy, man. It was just one of those weird moments that just kind of happened.
Josh Sallee at Kevin Durant’s studio with KD and James Harden
Kulture Vulturez: Growing up in a place like Oklahoma, do you feel you have to be more resourceful because of not having a lot of outlets?
Josh Sallee: Oh, yeah. There is not a single independent record label, management, anything like that, especially back then when I started, everybody was just doing DIY. Since I was like the first hip hop act that was like having some national success, going viral and stuff like that, it was almost like I was just the guinea pig.
That’s kind of what I’m doing now, I’ve been here long enough and we’re trying to develop the first true record label here that can run acts, not only in Oklahoma, but can put them on a national scale and make them like full time artists. But it takes a lot more resources.
On the [West and East Coast], you can kind of find people, especially if you’re doing stuff well, they’ll see it and then they’ll want to attach themselves or help out. Its just a lot more creative people who are doing what you’re trying to do. That makes things easier, but it also makes the pond a little bit more saturated. So, there’s an advantage to living in a place like Oklahoma because there was no market. It wasn’t a dime a dozen thing where there was tons of people doing it. It was almost like no one’s doing this shit. It made it harder to get it out nationally, but here it made it a lot easier to just kind of take over.
Kulture Vulturez: Did that lead you into becoming involved in multiple aspects of music, like production and rapping?
Josh Sallee: I started out just rapping. Since then, I’ve learned to edit videos, mix and master records, produce, make my artwork, you know. Not only because I just enjoy like the craft of things and art, but I wanted to learn how to become self-sufficient because I was just waiting on people. Not only was I spending in my money, but I’m f**ing waiting on this mix for three weeks or a month.
I can’t do this shit anymore. I can figure out how to do this. I would just obsess and dive into some program. Spend two months on YouTube university. Then eventually, just kept practicing, kept putting those hours in. It was like something I had to do. It was costing me too much money. I was also paying people and waiting on people who I felt like weren’t as advanced. They had just gone in and kind of done that same thing where they just was learning it and working. So I said, Well, I’ll just do the same thing.
Kulture Vulturez: Breakdown how you have your music placed on various platforms, like MTV, the NHL, etc.?
Josh Sallee: We’ve had some success. I had the MTV stuff, and then some sports stuff with the Minnesota Vikings. The cool thing about all my placements is they’ve been very organic, as far as somebody just finding the record and then reaching out and wanting to use it. We haven’t actually had to do a whole lot of sync pitching.
Now, that I’m with Timbaland and their Beatclub, it’s just changed as far as the production tip. I just landed four records with Red Bull, it’s a five figure payment. Those were kind of organic. Now I’m trying to really focus on the next thing, like developing a sync side of our record label because there’s just such good money in it, one placement will fund a whole whole album.
Kulture Vulturez: What do you feel like that tells you about yourself with so many people and big brands reaching out?
Josh Sallee: I think that my music, I don’t even want to say cinematic, but it’s many times uplifting. A lot of my production is using live drum sounds and things like that. It kind of caters to a cinematic approach. Then one of the songs, is my biggest song. I think it just speaks to how good the record is, and that’s the one that’s got placed the most. It’s just interesting that the biggest song I have is also the one that’s been placed the most. I think that just speaks to putting out quality records and just focusing on consistency. I think that good music is kind of a game of probability and numbers where you just got to keep throwing that shit out there until something catches.
Kulture Vulturez: How did you linked with Timbaland and his BeatClub?
Josh Sallee: Their A&R found me. It’s a funny story because I was making so many beats and I was just f***ing around. If you remember the rock band Korn? I was just smoking some weed one day, I flipped this [Korn] sample. An A&R from Timbaland’s Beat Club found it, and just reached out. He was like, “Yo, this is crazy. I want to talk to you about this opportunity we got.” I just started chopping it up with him.
I sent them like 40 beats. They found this one record in there, because I threw some of my songs in there, and they’re like, “Man, you’re a good writer, too.” One thing that they really liked is I don’t have no publishing deal or label, so I’m kind of like a one stop shop clearance. I can clear production in about one phone call, you don’t have to call a label, a manager, and all that. That really helped with them wanting to kind of use me as one of their go to.
Hollywood Hoax – Josh Sallee (prod. Josh Sallee)
Kulture Vulturez: With all of your releases, how have you grown and evolved since you began as an artist?
Josh Sallee: Well, the first record I had no production on. The second record was when I was really getting into like mixing and mastering and really finding my own sound. Then in the last five years really diving into production. It just makes the records, I think, more to myself. Since I know how to produce and manipulate it, I can kind of know immediately if I’m making a beat, if it’s going to be for me or not. I just think since then, I’ve just grown so much with my voice and how I want to write records.
Just continuing to improve and lock in, you’re always going to see progress, growth, and just continue to get better. I think that I’ve kind of realized the records I want to make. Those early [songs] are just really figuring out your sounds, what kind of artist do I want to be, what do I want to present, how serious do I want to be, and how not serious. I’m just at a point where I know that I’m fully capable of making successful records that impact people. There’s not much thought to creation anymore. It’s more so just free flowing and seeing where the craft and the work that I put in will take me every time I sit down and make a record.
Kulture Vulturez: Do you have favorite between producing and rapping, or both is your love?
Josh Sallee: It’s hard to say. Obviously, writing is what I come from, so that’s that’s what I love. Producing saved me and my career. I was going through so much shit. I felt like that’s all I was writing about. Every day you’re just kind of writing the same shit until you experience more life. Whereas production, you can just sit down, almost like a video game, and you don’t know where it’s going to go. I was making so many beats and it was just like, I can make another one, and another one. Eventually, writing and those words started to come out over the beat. It was almost like production saved my writer’s block.
Kulture Vulturez: Has there been any times that you felt like giving up?
Josh Sallee: Oh, yeah. I mean, independent, full-time musician in Oklahoma is not something that is necessarily easy or fun most of the time. It’s not glamorous. It’s not like I’ve been making a shit ton of money over the last however many years. That just gets to you. The inconsistencies, the instability, the sometimes not knowing where the money is coming from. I fortunately had some songs do well on Spotify, so that made the money come in more consistently. I remember when I was really just relying on show money, some months I have a lot of money and then other months I wouldn’t have any.
Not only that, when you’re doing this and you’re finding success, you just deal with so many people who are attaching themselves to you for their own motives and intentions. That can just suck you dry, just suck your energy out. You just feel a little bit like I’m almost to a place where it’s not healthy. You got so many pulling you in this direction and there’s all this pressure and they’re telling you should do this and this and that. It can be a lot. When there’s not enough money to go around all the time, then you got people who they’re there for that reason or they think it’s going to blow up. You just go through a lot of people and a lot of personalities, and it can kind of be deflating.
Kulture Vulturez: What continued to motivate you to keep going and not to stop?
Josh Sallee: It’s almost like a balance. Sometimes you get a little jaded and sometimes you’re like, f*** this. I think that every artist and even people like writers, any job you always want to elevate. I think that if you’re not thinking that way, then you’re in the wrong field.
Sometimes that constant want to elevate, or maybe you’re not feeling that you’re getting to the level of whatever it may be that you deserve, respect or publicity, you can’t let that get to you. Sometimes it does. You’re like, man, this person just blew up, I’ve been working harder than them, I think I’m better than them, or I think that these records are stronger than theirs. That level of thinking can also really hinder it. At the same time, that’s when you start kicking into gear. It’s really just, I think your mindset.
Kulture Vulturez: Following this release of “’95 Jordan,” what else is next for you?
John Sallee: I’m going to drop that in July. I’m starting to run this venue through our label, in the city, and then I’m going to go on tour with this artist named KAAN. In August, we’re hitting about 20 cities. The album will drop in September. Pretty much all the rollout is just about to happen. We just got to push it and try to make it as successful as we can. That’s kind of the plan. Then once the album is out, I got so many records, I’m just going to start dropping them like every two weeks.
Kulture Vulturez: Anything else you would like to let the readers know?
Josh Sallee: Anybody out there doing something that they love, you just got to keep pushing that shit and just keep going. I tell everybody that. Just keep going. I just hope to be a good representation of that.