Jay-Z, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Rihanna and Akon all agree on one thing, Verse Simmonds is the future of music.
The 31 year-old Virgin Islands native has proved to be a Renaissance Man, displaying an uncanny acumen for rapping, singing, song writing and producing. In just the past 18 months, Verse (short for Versatile) has been lava hot, crafting hits for himself as well as a wide array of megastars. Verse is definitely music’s most in demand and explosive commodity.
“The past year, year and half has been amazing, it’s been blessed, but not unbelievable,’ Simmonds says about his success. “This is what I’ve been working practically my whole life for. Right now it’s all about maintaining focus and making even more hits.”
Simmonds current single is the sexy “Boo Thang” featuring Kelly Rowland, which is a track off of his mixtape The Sextape Chronicles 2.
“It was fun working with Kelly,” Verse described. “She’s a legend, with all of the historic success she’s had with Destiny’s Child and on her own. She has an amazing tone, and I thought she would really add a winning ingredient to this record. We had so much fun on the set of the video. Basically, ‘Boo Thang’ is somebody you’re kicking it with.’ Your ‘Boo Thang’ is somebody you are getting to know. It’s growing into a monogamous relationship, its just not there yet. People think ‘Boo Thang’ is a cuddy buddy or a freak off, somebody you are just having sex with from time to time. But I want people to know it’s far from that. It’s more of a term of endearment towards the person you like and you’re considering to be a potential mate.”
As an artist signed to Interscope records, Simmonds dropped a smash right out the gate, in 2009 with the chart topper “Buy You A Round.” Women instantly fell in love with the anthemic hook, “if you’re a single lady, let me buy you a round.” Later that year, he released the first Sextape Chronicles mixtape to critical acclaim. He’s been touring ever since.
“I gave people my own genre,” Verse explained. “It ain’t R&B music. It ain’t really rap. I call my style ‘Island-B.’ It’s hip-hop with Caribbean and Rhythm and Blues influences. With ‘Buy You A Round,’ I gave the fans a first taste. But I wanted to define my sound more, so I put out the Sextape Chronicles series.”
2011 has proved to be a pivotal year for Verse. He aligned himself with brothers Akon and Bu Thiam, inking a brand new recording contract with BuVision/ Konlive/ Def Jam.
“That’s like my big brother,” Verse said of Akon who he met in 2003 through Akon’s DJ Benny G. Benny, who is also Verse’s best friend. The Grammy Award winning Kon was starting up a new record with a fresh roster and chose Verse to be the cornerstone act. Akon saw the same star potential in Simmonds that he saw in some of the other acts he signed such as T-Pain and most notably Lady Gaga.
“I can’t let it go to my head,” Verse said of the Akon co-sign. “I appreciate he feels that way. It’s so many artists out there grinding and working and then I have somebody of that magnitude saying he wants to work with me to help me become a superstar. It’s definitely a blessing to be in that kind of situation. Kon let’s me do what I’m doing. I’ll record songs and then he’ll come in the studio and be like ‘you can fix this, change this.’ So at the end of the day, he trusts what I have going on. He’s genuinely somebody who appreciates music and my music is something he likes.”
Simmonds has been steadily building his debut opus Stories of a Bachelor for release in the Summer of 2012.
“I want to make sure I create something that is relatable to the masses and both sexes,” he divulged. “I want to talk about reason why people aren’t in real relationships. What some people don’t understand, the more you let her know, the easier it is for you. I got a policy where you gotta keep it 100. If you’re not trying to be in a relationship or wife her up, you have to be honest with that. You might be surprised. She might really want from you what you want from her. She might be cool with that. But when you put it in a situation where she feels likes ‘he really want to be with me,’ then she’s gonna get into that mode. You have to give up some of the game and balance it out. It’s gonna actually help the guys a lot more than they think.”
As fruitful as his career as an artist has been, Verse has flourished even more as a producer and songwriter. As one half the team the Jugganauts with partner Sham “Sak Pase” Joseph, Simmonds has introduced some of the world’s biggest chart toppers to a brand new sound.
Of late, they’ve produced the blockbuster “Man Down’ for Rihanna as well as two cuts on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s classic Watch The Throne LP, “Who Gon Stop Me” and “Made In America.” The duo have also worked on Busta Rhymes’ new single “Why Stop Now” and have upcoming tracks for artists such as Ludacris, Frank Ocean and Swizz Beatz.
Verse was born in his mother’s homeland of Puerto Rico, but moved to his dad’s place of origin, The Virgin Islands, as a child. Growing up, he would perform in plays and talent shows. The radio station down there were formatted with a hodge-podge of rap, reggae, calypso and R&B which is explains Verse’s diverse style. His early musical influences were greats such as Bob Marley, Jay-Z, Nas and Babyface. At 20 years old, he moved from the Virgin Island to Florida where he met Sak Pase. In 2008, Simmonds was discovered by production heavyweight Rodney Jerkins and embarked on a solo career as a artist.
“For me to come from the Virgin Islands, it’s a big deal for me to be a success and it’s big for the Islands as well,” he said. “We’ve never had anybody from the Virgin Islands be on BET’s ‘106 and Park.’ For me to be the first person to accomplish that twice, I look at it as a blessing. It’s a surreal type of thing. I feel like I willed myself along with God’s help. I’m just trying to make sure I keep locking it down and people get from me what they’re expecting to get. I want to keep it on a certain level, keep the smashes coming.”
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