Josh Sallee, photo by @m.arkel.k

After returning last month with his single "Hollywood Hoax" and its humorous accompanying video, Josh Sallee has now shared his addictive new track "Let Me Live My Life," a collaboration with fellow rapper K.A.A.N.

The new song is inspired by Sallee's own resilience in the middle of external hardships growing up as well as the confines of the music industry, a world the Oklahoma City rapper has had to navigate with caution as he has pursued his goals while trying to avoid the industry's pitfalls, as he alluded to in the aforementioned "Hollywood Hoax."

Having had some level of success but perhaps not the breakout accomplishments some around him might have anticipated, people in his circle would share their opinions and offer unsolicited advice, putting pressure on Sallee, he says, speaking with Variance ahead of the release of his new single.

"Some people would be like, 'Maybe it's time to move into just the production side,'" he recalls. "That's pretty constant when you're doing it by yourself and you don't have a full team around you, like everybody is trying to help. And at some point it becomes this pressure of, 'Well, do I need to listen to these people because I'm not as big as I want to be?' So maybe I'm not necessarily where I thought I'd be looking back five years ago, and at the same time, it's all just ego and pressure from the outside."

Despite that apparent pressure, Sallee has enough firsthand experience in the industry to know where he doesn't want to be at this moment in his career, noting his early encounters with the West Coast music world was enough to keep him at a distance, thinking back to a run-in with a guy who said he was a manager for Chris Brown at the time and bought Sallee a one-way flight to Los Angeles.

"I already thought that was weird," he says. "But while I was there, he was taking me to all these spots, and I'm like, 'Damn, this is actually pretty impressive!' But I was staying at his apartment, which was where his label was also based out of, and I woke up in the morning, and there had been like $3,500 that had been spent on my credit card, which was in my luggage ... and it was spent in Burbank, and we're in Burbank. It was just weird. And so he starts trying to use my faith against me and saying it's the devil trying to get you not to come here. And I'm like, 'No, man! I think you stole my shit!'"

Even with that major red flag, Sallee gave him another shot, taking him up on an offer to go to a recording session. "So I go to this session and he locks me in a bedroom and says, 'You're not coming out until you finish this verse!' And I'm like, this is getting fucking weird."

And it only went further downhill from there, Sallee says, then recalling an experience months later with friends who were better connected in the pop music space, and by all assumptions, very successful. But it didn't take long for the facade to crack.

Photo by @m.arkel.k

"They were so sad and broken," he explains. "Like even those people who were at this highest level seemed to hate what they were doing, hate where they were at. They just bitched about it. And I'm going, 'I'm just a good ole boy from Oklahoma! I'm not ready for this. I'd rather just enjoy my life than make music if it came to that.' And that's how it went. I had a good thing going for me in Oklahoma and I can make music, and it just never seemed like the right idea for me to have to change all that."

Now, Sallee is focused on what comes next, which includes developing his own label and a small roster of artists, as well as his own album, titled Flamingo, which he says he aims to release likely in June.

"That's the plan," he says. "And so I'll be pushing the album, and then I have way too much music I haven't released, so at some point, I just plan to travel and every two weeks drop a song." ■