Hardcore Hip Hop fans living in Los Angeles have probably crossed paths with VerBS on more than a few occasions. A red beanie, black vest adorned with a ridiculous amount of pins are his signatures alongside slight variations. One moment, you can find sir Kyle Guy (his real name) at a Murs show rapping alongside the Living Legends MC. The next, VerBS is kicking freestyles at a random DTLA spot. At the very least, those looking to check out really good infant level talent, dope cyphers, serious music geeks and lip-smacking vegan food can catch him at Leimert Park’s Kaos Network once a month hosting Bananas. For many rap heads in the area, the event is the closest millennials will get to The Good Life Cafe. And, that’s just only a handful of things he’s been involved with over the years.
It’s almost easy to forget how large his music catalogue has grown before taking a quick glance at his Bandcamp page. Then there are the feature guest spots acquired from VerBS breakout moment on Murs & 9th Wonder’s Fornever album in 2010 to more recently with his Project Blowed associates on one of last year’s slept on last hoorah for The Hellfyer Club Catcher of the Fade or even a Breezy Lovejoy era Anderson .Paak. Nearly four years since releasing his last album, The Progress EP 3:Manifest Awesome, the Korea Town resident is close to dropping his Handmade Hearts soon. In the meantime, he’s collaborated with Get Crev Labs to be the featured artists in their fourth and fifth entry in their “Crevelation” mix series.
When HipHopDX catches up with VerBS, it’s at his KTown townhouse residence. Before conducting the interview, we visit the community kitchen where he grabs his breakfast for the day, an avocado. Then, there is the home’s backyard treehouse where the actual talk and photo shoot takes place. Yup, becoming LA Weekly’s People 2016 recipient makes total sense now.
During our conversation, VerBS gives insight into his early rap moments, the success of Bananas and his upcoming project.
VerBS Remembers Murs Changing His Career Trajectory & The First Edition Of Bananas
HipHopDX: The first time I heard you on Fornever track “The Lick” six years ago. How exactly did you get to that point?
VerBS: I used to do this event called The Spliff in West LA, and I met Murs there and I gave him a CD and ran into my home girl Stephanie. Then I saw him at this other spot one day. I hit him on MySpace and asked if I could do a song with him and he didn’t respond. Then, I saw him again and he was like ‘Oh shit! What up man! Yeah, you want to do that song man, what are you doing tomorrow?’ And I was like ‘Uh…nothing man.’ He came to Crenshaw and Jefferson and I did a song with him, smoked a cigarette and talked about comic books. I was living at this place in West LA and I just got evicted and he hit me up wondering if I wanted to go on tour with him as a hype man and that was in 2008. That’s how it happened man. I went on that Murs for President tour. I was on the bus and shit and he was with Kids In The Hall and Big Pooh. Murs throughout the years has let me open up for him at random spots. He was hitting me up every now and then saying what’s up always helping me out. It kind of got me to start rapping, rapping. Everything all worked in conjunction somehow.
DX: When did things click with you that emceeing was the thing for you?
VerBS: I was trying to rap at every show possible. A bunch of underground rap spots. I went to a bunch of rap battles. I didn’t really start rapping, like I said, before meeting Murs. I was making CDs because I was like I need to start selling CDs. Why am I not selling CDs? I record music. That’s when that started it around that time. Every time I put out a new product, the sword kept getting sharpened more and more. The recordings were also getting better. I’m always doing shows. I guess after the Murs thing, that’s when it really started getting like paid shows and people were on me more. Doing the event helped my personal brand as well and also helping other people. I just was on the Internet all day checking emails hoping there’s money.
DX: How’d you end up linking with Project Blowed?
VerBS: I’m from Culver City and my homie Alpha MC, he went to Hamilton with me. He used to tell me about this park that they would rap at and shit. So then on a Thursday, homies and I hopped in the whip and went to Project Blowed. My homie had a car and he was the only one of us with one. I went there one Thursday and I was like ‘Oh shit. This is some real rap shit.’ When I graduated high school, on my grad night, my cousin took me there at 11 at night and I just started rapping with the people over there. Every Thursday after that, the homies and I would just go. I started to get to know people. It was like training in the dojo every Thursday. Rap, rap, rap, rap, rap until three in the morning. That’s when I met Nocando, that’s when I met Aceyalone, and Badru and all these other underground rappers. All sorts of rappers who when I probably say their name, no one’s going to know who they are unless you are in the LA underground rap world.
That’s basically what it is. My homie Flako 7 was the host at the time. But, the hosts were interchangeable like one time Abstract Rude hosted, sometimes Aceyalone would host but, it’s very rare. He was kind of like on Decon Records at the time and Okayplayer was cracking. Then that shit started dwindling around 2008. Around the time I was touring with Murs, it was dwindling. I come back and my girl and I started doing the event and we start doing every third Tuesday.That’s just how it stayed – from there. Some people say Bananas is the extension of Project Blowed, some people say it’s not because it’s at the Kaos Network. When OG’s come in they like ‘Oh man you keeping the Blowed alive.’ That shit means a lot to me. I never thought it was an extension of Project Blowed. That’s not a diss at all because I’m from Project Blowed but our aesthetics are significantly different. In terms of people who come to the show. I’m from Project Blowed, this is my event and it’s called Bananas. When folks in the streets are saying that we’re keeping The Blowed alive, that’s a big up. At the end of the year, they do the Project Blowed anniversary and Bananas has a time slot always so that’s cool. It’s in the ‘Blowed’ family,’ but it’s its own beast.
DX: Do you remember the initial conception of Bananas and the first lineup and where’s it’s gone?
VerBS: Yeah, it was Open Mike Eagle, Speak and some band called The Libra Project? No there wasn’t reasoning, it just takes a lot of time and energy to do these shows every month. Once I look up, the show’s coming up again and I’m like ‘Oh fuck!’ It helps me pay my rent a little bit so it’s definitely more money than the rap. I’m still actively on shows in the LA area. I still go to Arizona and Las Vegas. I have a fan base in Las Vegas and Arizona. That shit is pretty cool but I’m not selling out any shows. 20 die hard niggas will come, shit like that.
DX: Why Bananas?
VerBS: This girl named Devin I used to date put me onto the shit. She put me on the DIY world and shows and stuff like that and The Smell and Airspace and other things like that. I was coming from the underground rap background like Project Blowed and so we were like ‘Yo, let’s bring our worlds together.’ She was the driving force and then we broke up and I continued to do it and like Bananas was like our kid. I continued to raise the kid. Now the baby is big!
DX: You got people coming from all across the nation now.
VerBS: Yeah, we got people coming from all over.
I Don’t Have To Be The Guy Like I’m Cracking On Everybody’s Stereo Nigga, But I’m Definitely Like Low Key LA Ambassador To This Rap Shit. So If You Don’t Really Know Me, It’s Kind Of Like You’re Fucking Up.
DX: It seems like you’re in the same situation as Project Blowed. You got a ton of people coming through. I even heard Kendrick Lamar came through one time?
VerBS: Yeah, Kendrick came through and I already met Kendrick at the House of Blues when I was on that Fornever Tour. I didn’t get to rap but, at the last show in LA, it was Nocando and Murs so Black Hippy ended up rapping but, I did that song with Murs that day so that’s a fun fact. That’s when I met him like ‘Who is this nigga? He got a regular name. Why am I not rapping on the show?’ That was the second time I met him. I don’t think he remembered me but he’s like ‘Oh I remember your face.’ The homie who lives down the street in Leimert Park let him, though. Everybody asks me about that. I don’t know Kendrick Lamar. I met him twice.
DX: I’ve even seen a bunch of old White folks there like they’re label scouts during Project Blowed’s glory days.
VerBS: Whose man’s is this? Sometimes we’ll have the random hipster dudes come through but, that’s the exciting thing about Bananas because it’s a good melting pot of all sorts of people. I think ideas need to be remixed. I was never the rapper that tripped when people were like ‘Oh, you biting!’ Think about it: everybody’s style comes from somewhere. I don’t trip. Even when the homies are like ‘Oh, these dudes sound like they’re stealing your flow!’ I’m like ‘Bro, what are we like ’96 nigga? I don’t give a fuck. Nigga, get a real problem.’
DX: How do you feel about where you stand in the scene? Everybody knows you. You can’t be from LA, and know about underground Hip Hop and not know who you are.
VerBS: It’s cool man. I don’t have to be the guy like I’m cracking on everybody’s stereo nigga, but I’m definitely like low-key LA ambassador to this rap shit. So if you don’t really know me, it’s kind of like you’re fucking up. That’s cool to me. I’m still trying to put out the super masterpiece album type of vibe. In terms of right now, this local celebrity shit is kind of tight. I wish it would’ve yielded more money. It’s better than not being known and broke. At least I’m known and broke. That’s tight! I think I’m winning somewhere. At least in social currency, I’m balling. Social currency nigga.
DX: That can go a long way.
VerBS: Yeah, I get into a lot of random places for free like ‘Oh nigga!’ Tight. I can get you in somewhere.
DX: You said one of the first people you worked with was Anderson .Paak, what’s it like to see his rise?
VerBS: Ah, man. That was super tight and I feel like I’m a part of it. He even shouted out the squad Death LA in an interview and I was like ‘OHHHH!’ Most of my other projects, Progress EP 3, and number two, I recorded a lot of those songs in Inglewood where he would record, when he was a part of this group called Block Cheddar. That shit was tight man. I met him opening up for Murs in Pomona or Riverside one of those two it was at Bronco Fusion or whatever that was. From that day we became friends. I went over the next week and we were recording, and we went to parties and stuff and I’d hang out there and record it was tight man. I booked him and another act. I mean I put together an event and it was Iman Omari, Thee Satisfaction and Breezy Lovejoy and some other people. I look back at the flyer and that would still be a dope show today.
DX: Most know you for the beanie and the vest. When did that start to become your signature look?
VerBS Says New Album Is A Blend Of “Simpin & Pimpin”
VerBS: Aw man. Again that girl, she put me onto The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I’d like to consider myself the black Bill Murray.
DX: From your perspective, why do you think the LA underground scene isn’t as noticed as other scenes that are popping off in LA ,considering events like Bananas has survived for so long?
VerBS: Yeah and you really get to know about it, to know about it. Even when people know about it, they don’t seem to give a fuck about it. That’s cool I guess. Here’s the thing, I think people leave their cities to come to LA, to get their own shit cracking. They could give a fuck about what’s going on in the city. There’s many genres of underground rappers so I guess the aesthetic of the underground rap LA scene, is kind of not popping. It’s not pop. It’s very niche and it depends on the type of underground rapper that you are. People that come to LA are trying to get their careers cracking. They’re trying to get radio songs or bring attention to where they’re from and to their world so that’s why I think.
DX: I guess also because there’s not much cross-pollination with the mainstream and what goes on.
VerBS: Maybe I need to help change that. I don’t even know how to do that because the people that come out of Bananas range from all different types and styles of rappers. I don’t know. The community is really strong so who knows? Maybe we’ll be the generation to change it. I’ll try or I’ll die trying.
DX: What’s up with the new project?
VerBS: Handmade Hearts? A thin line between simpin’ and pimpin’. No, it’s like a bunch of love songs, demo love songs that I’ve done throughout the years. I even got a song about the past relationship that I was in that kind of ended because I was doing some wack shit. So, I’m going to talk between songs and really say where I was when I was doing the song and I’m going to treat it like that, like a really big art piece. Bring awareness to wack shit that dudes do and also talk about being in love and how cool that is. Even talk about rape culture in one song. I’m just going to make a good lovey, vibey, project slash it’s very vulnerable because a lot of these tracks are stories and like deep personal stories. I’m just trying to open up with my life to the world and one of the big things in my art is women and love and stuff. All these demos are mostly about that and yeah man, that’s basically what the deal is. It’s called Handmade Hearts and it’ll probably be out around November.