The lights dim as a sold out crowd sit quietly facing the jazz quintet and a microphone that was center stage awaiting the main act. The one and only 1st Verse. The room had such a jazzy feel, The bar just to the back of the room filled with patrons, the waitresses navigating their way through the packed room from the tables and back to the bar. The seating was very personal. Very intimate. As you would expect everyone was dressed for the occasion. The only thing missing was the momentary light from a match and the resulting clouds of smoke, but in these times the No Smoking signs make this no longer apart of the experience. It's now replaced with by illuminating cellphone screens and smart watches. But outside the artists circled near a row of parked cars, pass around the ceremonial jazz cabbage. Smiles, handshakes, and introductions ensue as the smoke dances against the midnight sky. The venue is called LowDown, and is very important to the Fire In Little Africa project because it was where the first video "Shining" was shot. This was another installment of the series of shows titled Jazz In Little Africa. This time headlined by the legendary 1st Verse.
PSA: if want a music journalist to come to your show. Put them on the guest list. There are a lot of great publications that always are good go to to help get your the word about your show out there. That includes IndyPot, 20onDaTown, Woklahoma, ASLUT, and Oaka, Root Tulsa, Black Wallstreet Times. ok.1, Etc.
As 1st Verse walked into the venue the band jammed, friends and fans embraced. Accompanying 1st Verse was a line of featured artists all featured not only on the guest lists but most importantly as artists that were there to support him on stage. The artists settled along the back wall of the venue as 1st Verse went backstage. If there’s nothing else he's gonna give you a show. His years of performing on virtually every stage in Tulsa has helped him to develop a familiarity and a comfort level with the stage. His performance was like an old friend as he talked to the crowd between songs. He's a true Master of Ceremonies. His words cut like a well sharpened knife, and again his confidence in his mastery allows him to smile after he delivers a lethal verbal assaults. The syllabalistic assault of Verse is so crazy that he could say, "sufferin succotash". And the crowd would snap their fingers in amazement of how he even fit it into the verse. That cat was in his pocket.
This night wasn't only about 1st Verse though. This was a night to celebrate and the relationships that he has built along the way. Some of these artists came all the way from Oklahoma City to be apart of the show. Do you know how hard that is to do? But that's a testament to how much weight that 1st Verse's name carries. He started the show off and like the star player, setting the tone with his song "Greatest Feeling" off his collaboration project with dj noname.called 1st Name. And like the star he tagged in artists to accompany him on stage as if it was a WWE tag team match. Guests artists included; Tra3Qwan, K.O, Mr. Burns, Young DV, KeezyKuts, Pade, and Bettyman. Everybody that was on stage seemed to be at optimal bars. It goes to show that anytime that you're on a track with 1st Verse that you tend to step your bars up. Sometimes though you even step outside of what is expected. Mr. burns a lyrical assailant in his own right, surprisingly on this night lent his vocals as he performed the track “Pixel Fade” which is off 1st Verse's EP Throwed Lenses. A project that was produced by Oklahoma legend John Moreland. This night highlighted just how expansive 1st Verse's catalog is.
It was important to highlight the band. As they brought so so much to the atmosphere and the overall sound of the performance. 1st Verse is no stranger to performing with a live band. His Verse And The Vapors shows is just one example of his love for performances with live bands and the added musicality it offers to the performance. And it was important to highlight their talents. 1st Verse left some room for the band on the second verse of VSXOasis. He let the band get some. Led by Chris Combsy on the guitar, Bobby Moffett Jr. on the piano, bass player (unknown) , Josh Raymer on drums, saxophone (unknown). The was band was out of sight.
I asked 1st Verse. What do you feel like you brought to the Jazz in Little Africa show?
Man we brought the jazz. We brought the Little Africa. I think specifically I brought myself. Because it was a jazz setup and because of where I felt like I was at, and what I needed to do for the show. I picked different songs. It was a lot of different songs that we hadn't performed before. A lot of features. I feel like it kind of organically bought the Everything is Us with Fire In Little Africa artists. DV [Young DV], Beety [Bettyman], Because Beety is FILA too. K.O. Keezy [Keezy Kuts], & Pade. Just like having a lot of guests. But the songs in particular giving some fresh flavor and some more personal joints that you need an intimate setting to really perform like that. And I think they worked there forsure.
What will you get from a 1st Verse performance? 1st and four-most is a front row to master and a professional at his craft. Next you'll see the precision in his voice hit every syllable so effortlessly. We also can't forget the fans. One fan in particular, a long time listener of 1st Verse drove over 2 hours to see 1st Verse. Just before the the concert he kicked it with 1st Verse and played song after song off his phone, reciting his favorite bars from each song. Last but not least. You'll get some good ass music. So next time you get the chance to see 1st Verse. Go! You won't be made that you did.
In this day and age the next album is only one post away. That's because music is released by the push of a button. Almost simultaneously all your music can be available to the masses. Gone are the early childhood memories of waiting until Tuesday for an album to drop and wanting to be the first one of your friends to bump it in your speakers. An album drop was an event. Numerous times I cleared my whole day and shut door, hidden in my room I would engulf myself in the world that the album created through it's musical production and it's vivid lyrics. These times are long gone. Except for when you talk about the album VSXO. 1st Verse who released the project late last year went against the norm and only released physical copies of the album (granted he would send you the files), but this was a bold statement, a $30 physical CD in this new world of free music. Post Napster. An artist would never be successful using this model. That's when you realize that 1st Verse isn't your everyday artist.
I know no name bulletproof,
The legend of the 30 dollar copy. Anyone who has been out to a hip-hop event in Tulsa lately has seen a tall bearded individual moving throughout the crowd. One by one individuals line up to greet this bearded fellow giving various handshakes and taking selfies. His jacket swaying heavily from the wrapped and concealed $30 copy. It's an amazing sight to see this bearded figure named 1st Verse make his way through the crowd. It only takes just one pause between handshakes and a swift motion to his jacket reveals the legendary $30 copy of his album VSXO. If your lucky enough to see this transaction occur be appreciative, because in this day of impersonal digital streaming 1st Verse is defying all marketing plans and is going platinum..... his way.
I've never seen a worker rock so many jewels (never!). This is undoubtedly the boss Jay-Z talking his boss talk on the record "Bam". Nowadays the lines between who's really running the show and someone who is just putting on a show are getting more and more blurred. In many cases it isn't the loudest person in the room. But everyone wants to be a boos right? But as Jay-Z states again, "Everybody's bosses 'til it's time to pay for the office. 'Til them invoices, separate the men from the boys". 1st Verse is an artist who is also challenging all those who talk the boss talk, to walk the boss walk."