When Vory turned 18, he knew he was going to be a musician. Though it was hardly some coming-of-age moment of clarity — no, it was when he got a face tattoo. “I knew it was over right then,” the enigmatic singer-rapper — who frequently dons a mask—says with a laugh. “Like, yo, you have no other choices. No Plan B. It’s either this or nothing.” If music was a last resort, he’s certainly made the most of it: Vory has become an in-demand songwriter for everyone from Drake to Beyonce, Jay-Z and Future. And now he’s signed to Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers Records, managed by the Weeknd’s manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby and ready to step out on his own as an artist. “It feels amazing, bro,” the 24-year-old Louisville native says of finally releasing Lost Souls, his meticulously crafted and moody debut album. “I’m all about making a powerful impact.”
The 17-track album features the likes of 070 Shake and Nav but the highlight is, of course, “Daylight,” a collaboration with one of Vory’s closest musical confidantes: Kanye West. “We understand each other musically a lot,” Vory says. The pair worked together closely on Ye’s 2021 Donda LP, with Vory contributing his sweet and airy vocals to three tracks (“God Breathed, “Jonah, “No Child Left Behind”) and another on Donda 2, the stunning “Lord Lift Me Up.” (“It needs a real release. I was just telling Ye that. It can be something crazy.”) To hear Vory tell it, the relationship is mutually beneficial: “Ye can understand where I can fix certain things. I can understand where he should take other things.” So close was their partnership, in fact, that they had to scale back Vory’s contributions to Donda. Originally, he says, he was featured on five tracks, “But when we was finalizing the Donda tracklist, Ye was like, ‘Wait, man. This is crazy. We got a mini-EP on my album already!’ So we picked the strongest three.”
“Daylight” was one of the songs that didn’t make the cut for Donda. But Lost Souls is all the better for its inclusion. The menacing song sets the dark sonic template for an album that finds Vory unpacking his innermost feelings on everything from betrayal (“Not My Friends”) to buying back a woman’s affection with designer purchases (“Chanel Fix).
Yet, for as animated as Vory is on wax, he keeps a decidedly low profile in his personal life.
“I just be in my own world. I don’t really be caught up in a lot of the stuff, to be honest,” he says. “My friends tell me, ‘Bro, I don’t even think you understand who you are.’ I really don’t. I surround myself with people like my friends and family and that’s it. I don’t really get into the social media thing like that. I just zone, man. It helps me out a lot.”
He’s also a man of few words. “Vory is quiet,” admits his label boss and close friend, Meek Mill. “But he’s a great person. Just a young kid expressing his feelings through his music. Comes from a good family. Comes from the streets like me, the hood.” The Vory-Meek partnership, while at first centered on business, has become far more than that. “We don’t really even look at the business side anymore,” Vory says. “That’s just my big brother. We try to take the business out of it. Let the people who do business do business and we’ll keep our relationship separate from that.”
Before his solo album, Vory-penned highlights for other artists included Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t” (Vory’s first hit as a songwriter), “Friends” for Beyonce and Jay-Z, and “Mob Ties” on Drake’s Scorpion. He’s somewhat cagey about how he discerns whether a song is best for him or another artist. “I just know when a song isn’t for me and who would sound good on it,” he says. “I have a good ear for songs.”
Now he’s “nervous” to eventually embark on his first tour behind Lost Souls. “Hey man,” he says, “You gotta do what you gotta do. You can’t hide in the shadows forever. The sun comes out eventually. “
For Vory, it’s starting to rise in a major way.