Verbatum Jones’ Key Studio Session | photo by John Vettese
The Key Studio Sessions: Verbatum Jones
As you can see in the above photo, Verbatum Jones performed his Key Studio Session seated. This rarely happens for us, at least with non-pianists – musicians are used to standing onstage when they perform, and that carries over to recording as well. But Verb smiled, shrugged, and said “hey, this is a radio thing, I want to get the full radio experience.” He’s a lively and outgoing dude, and by the end of our hour together, I felt like I really got to know him. But that’s exactly what makes him connect so much as a rapper – he knows how to connect as a person.
About a year ago, Verb digitally released (.winter), his first LP, and it’s a strong opening statement with a solid variety of tones and textures. “The Hustle” and “With You” skew more old-school, in the 90s vein of A Tribe Called Quest. “Palm Trees” and “Single Girls,” by comparison, sound super contemporary, incorporating beats and sounds that would fit nicely in the mix with Chance the Rapper or Childish Gambino – the former in particular is intensely beat-oriented, a heartbeat pulse that it’s impossible not to headnod along to, while the latter has an incredible flute sample that gives the song a breezy and vaguely jazzy feeling.
But beyond what Verb’s music, sounds like musically, there’s also Verb as a human being. He’s funny, delivering a string of random thoughts as they come to him, jumping from topic to topic. Self-promotional to personal, all with a clever way of framing up whatever he’s talking about: “This song was released in California on my 23rd birthday,” he says at one point. “That’s a fancy way of saying it was released a year ago.” See also: the part where he talks about growing up in a churchgoing family, which he says is the root of his gregarious nature, and “we can take praise breaks” if needed. The talking between songs is usually something I use when our Key Studio Sessions air on WXPN and then discard for sharing here on The Key, but with Verbatum Jones, there was no other option. The music and the man are one and the same, and should be presented as such.
On Saturday, September 6th, Verb plays at the Obscura event at West Philly’s A-Space: it’s a great lineup of up and coming players in the Philly scene, from vibey vocal group Luci Rising to playful rapper The Bul Bey, and as Verb puts it, his set is the longest he’s played to date. “I’ve got 40 minutes,” he said. “Y’all have no idea what I can do in 40 minutes.” If the Key Studio Session below was what he could do in 20 minutes, that’s reason enough right there to block out your calendar now.