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In his essay In Praise of Shadows, Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki wrote of how, in adopting Western technology, illuminating their homes in bright electric light, the Japanese lost the aesthetic virtues of their older interior design. The traditional method of paper lamps in sparsely-furnished rooms had given this "world of shadows" a "mystery and depth superior to that of any wall painting or ornament." To Tanizaki, the shade cast by overhanging eaves, the foggy texture of unpolished silver, the darkened lavatory of wood grain, unlike the clinical white tile of the West, cultivated an atmosphere of "immutable tranquility."

This could also easily describe the absolute calm of the art of Valee, whose work thrives in a world of shadows. The mysterious Chicago rapper drew genuine excitement from peers across the country even before he'd signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music label. In an era when aspiring public figures broadcast constantly in an effort to maximize their brand value, where rappers live their lives in an unsparing spotlight of tweets and TMZ headlines, Valee stands apart. With short songs and a soft-spoken style, his...