Vyce and Verse Philosophize about Art and Critique the Local Music Scene
24OurMusic had the chance to talk with artists Vyce and Verse. The synergetic way one artist complements the other should be inspiration for other aspiring duos. Their balancing of one another, thereby creating a well-rounded whole, was even evident in their appearances. Vyce, tall and talking a mile a minute while shifting from one foot to another, stood in stark but strangely cohesive contrast to Verse, a self-described “short guy” who took calm pauses before answering. With Vyce’s energy and Verse’s pensiveness, the duo was able to give us a wide range of opinions on topics including the nature of art and their issues with Montreal’s hip-hop scene.
First off, who are you as an artist and what should readers know about you?
Verse: I’m versatile. I believe in art to the fullest. It’s not about just rap, or even just about music, but about art in general. I’m inspired by anything and everything around me.
Vyce: Anything that comes out of music is real-life shit. It’s no gimmicks. It’s transparent and there’s no way to sugar-coat any of it. That’s just the way the music comes out. And that’s why it’s art, because art is life.
So how would you describe your sound, and what artists and genres would you say have contributed to it?
Verse: My sound is, well, the best way to put it right now is to say that I’m at a point where it’s pretty dark. That’s because I’m still trying to find myself as an artist. I started with poetry, and so that avenue was really dark when I did poetry, and that’s transformed into my music. But I like to have fun. So . . . as long as it’s fun, I’m with it.
Vyce: Our sound is ever-changing. It’s never stagnant. You can’t say, ‘Oh, it’s trap music or it’s pop music,’ because it’s always changing. Our lives always change. Sometimes we’re going through some great shit and other times we’re going through some real dark shit. So that’s exactly how it is. World music would be the best way to describe it.
Can you give 24OurMusic some insight into your writing process? Do you find yourself writing primarily when inspiration strikes you, or do you hold yourself to a more regular writing schedule?
Verse: I write all the time. I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but sometimes I even write when I’m driving. (Laughs). I’ll jot down a line or two real quick at a red light. I go by inspiration. I don’t set a time, you know, because I can’t. Sometimes I said, let me sit down for an hour a day, and nothing came to me. I go by inspiration. I go through something, or I see somebody and we have a conversation, and I’ll go home and write something about it.
Vyce: Pretty much the exact same way. Any time I’m going through some shit, I’ve got to get it off my chest. Straight to the pen. That’s how it goes.
Hip-hop often has as a recurring theme representing one’s city. In what way has Montreal shaped you as an artist and is there anything about it that you’d like to see changed?
Verse: I would say it’s showed me how cold your own city can be. As far as how artists get promoted or portrayed, it’s not where it should be, I think. There’s a lot more talent here that people should see. I just feel like we’re not getting as bright of a light on us as other cities are getting.
Vyce: I agree with those sentiments. There are a lot of artists who are from Montreal and who leave Montreal to go and do music somewhere else because they’re frustrated with how people front in this city, and how they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to support, we’re going to support,’ and behind your back it’s all chatter-chatter. We should be on a different level right now. If you ask who’s the biggest artist in Montreal, no-one can really name one specific artist. If you talk about Toronto, it’s a different story. Honestly, it’s like a crabs in a bucket mentality right now. Everyone just wants to be at the top and people keep trying to tear each other down. There’s a bigger market out in Toronto for anglophone artists, and here, it’s really, really hard.
Verse: Most of the English people in general are leaving the city, so it’s really hard to get support when the people who speak the same language as you do in your music are leaving. I think the issue is more of getting people to see us. It’s more of a European city, than for example, Toronto, and so we get a lot of support from people out in Europe because they can relate more to our surroundings and the way the city is.
Vyce: And there’s a lot of talent here and people don’t often get to see it. A lot of movements have come and gone, but so long as we stay consistent, we’re going to blow.
Speaking of Montreal, could you pinpoint any local artists who’ve helped you along the way? Any shout-outs to give?
Vyce: I’ll shout out BuDz, we’ve been ‘making way.’ BuDz has been holding it down with us. I can’t really say any other artists in Montreal because I haven’t really worked with any others besides Verse. I guess you could say we’re more selective. I’m more about making something that’s timeless, and not jumping on some bullshit gimmick song.
Verse: I would definitely say my family, even though lots of them are in Toronto. Another person would be Shogun, because we go way back.
Vyce: My bad, Sho’. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Sho’. (Laughs)
Verse: That’s my dude from way back and definitely R-P Shane.
Mind telling us about any upcoming or ongoing projects?
Verse: I’ve got so many things going on, I’ll only run you through a couple. I’m working on my project right now, Evo. It’s going to be a double tape because it’s going to show two sides of me, the evolution of me. I’m also working on a poetry book right now because I’m going back to what I used to do. I got to prepare for this battle coming up against Chrome. He’s dead. I’m going to kill him October 2nd. I hope he’s well prepared, especially now that he pushed it back.
Vyce: I just finished Half in the Bag. After that, I got Suicide Notes coming, and that’s going to be some very dark, twisted shit. It’s going to be a completely different thing than Half in the Bag, and it’s going to take everything to a completely different level.
To backtrack to the part of the conversation where you were talking about how rapping and poetry to you are manifestations of your love of art more generally, have you ever dabbled in other artistic mediums?
Verse: When I was in high-school I started writing a movie but I never got a chance to finish it. I definitely want to do that. A lot of my music is stories and so I want to tie that into a movie or a short film. I draw a little bit. I’m not no Picasso. It’s just to keep me calm, because sometimes the energy in my music is really dark or aggressive and drawing kind of slows it down for me.
Vyce: Not really, music is my thing. Outside of that, I’m a sports guy. I ball. I play football. Music and sports are my artistic expression. When I get on the field, I paint a picture, and I leave motherfuckers on the floor, ankles broken, making ‘em look silly.
Bang your head to Vyce’s emotionally turbo-charged song, “100 Miles N’ Runnin,” which Verse co-performed at Rap-Up Montreal: https://soundcloud.com/vycelord514/100-miles-n-runnin
Get contemplative with Verse’s debut project, Prey For Me: https://soundcloud.com/verse514
Photo by Grant Cabrales
The Hayden Roth Company