The Verbal Surgeon is one of those artists who thrives on their own honesty. His road to prominence has been paved by organic intent, genuine talent, and a collision of potential and dedicated work that has produced sonic gold. ‘Day by Day’, his latest EP, is a manifestation of the artistic authenticity that permeates his body of work. The eight-track offering boasts a robust mix of collaborations and styles, all of which stay true to the honest hip hop sentiments that define his rap music. It’s easy for one to get lost in the intricacies of The Verbal Surgeon’s lyrical prowess, but something that is oft overlooked on ‘Day by Day’ is the international cast of producers involved on a number of tracks.
The Verbal Surgeon has built a strong base of followers locally and internationally through a combination of energetic live performances and savvy internet networking. The locals love him for his honest lifestyle and consistent efforts to put back into the creative community that surrounds him. International fans flock to him for his broad appeal and the wide net of collaborations that have become more common as he progresses.
Something that has defined the quality music coming from the current internet renaissance is honesty. It has become easy to create the trap anthem, the stacks-on-deck visage that permeates mainstream YouTube sensations. It requires something more stringently honest to spark a flame that grows from it’s own perpetual weight. The Verbal Surgeon embodies this genuine sentiment in lifestyle and art. When picking apart the lyrical layers of ‘Day by Day’, it’s easy to overlook the nuggets of homage and mirror-image self-realizations that are present throughout the EP. One must take care to heed to knowledge that The Verbal Surgeon spits. Rare is the line that reeks of bullshit. Quality permeates the entire offering.
From an international cast of production all-stars, to the strikingly genuine and humble lyrics, to the peas-in-a-pod features that seem to fit like a glove, ‘Day by Day’ possesses a indelible charm that passes from the ears to the soul and resonates there like all good art is supposed to. The Verbal Surgeon has come a long way from humble beginnings and built his foundation from the ground up, the proper way. Let ‘Day by Day’ stand as an indication of the type of quality one can expect from the artist, and as a forecast for the bright horizons that lie ahead.
– What influences your art outside of music?
Life; it’s beautiful and ugly. Open minded individuals, good vibes, food, women, good decisions, bad decisions, proper herb, beer, and satan. Traveling is a major influence on my life as well. ‘Amtrak’ off of the new EP was written while I was riding the Amtrak to Rochester, NY. I lived in Rochester for two years and made some good music out there. I released a little EP with Danny Dubz which features ‘Thankful’ a personal favorite of mine to this day. Any individuals who make a living off of their own craft.
– You’ve been pursuing a more organic, localized lifestyle. How has this influenced your music,if at all? Some pro’s? Cons?
My music is a direct reflection of me, how I think, what I feel, what I see, etc. As I grow, I’m growing more toward a naturalist lifestyle. I don’t come from a background like that at all, it’s just something that’s been casually happening as I mature. It’s honestly a great influence, I live in the New England area which is filled with amazing agriculture. I’ve definitely branched out and met some amazing individuals who’ve encourages and inspired me on that path. The only con is having to explain my dietary choices to people all the time ha. To break it down, I don’t eat beef, chicken, pork, turkey, etc. If it’s meat it’s either fresh fish or game (deer, elk, rabbit, duck, etc) I seldom eat meat at all, but I was raised eating meat. I stopped when I started really working in busy kitchens cooking it nonstop. Which was when I was around 18, I guess I was turned off from it all and have never gone back. I’m a fan of cheese, but you won’t catch me dead drinking a cup of milk. ALMOND MILK EVERYTHING!!
-Tell me about the music scene in your area, all genres, not specifically hip-hop.
Well before I was ever doing hip-hop I was into Hardcore, I drummed for two bands and did vocals for another band which was a little heavier and more melodic. The Waterfront Tavern in Holyoke, MA used to be the place to be every weekend and that’s where I was a kid. I used to put together a few shows around the area as well. The scene really thrived when I was younger, everyone was into it and really supported it. It’s still good, but I guess things change as we grow. In terms of Hip-Hop it’s super hit or miss out here. You could have an amazing headliner and still have a terrible outcome. You could have no headliner and have a packed house. For the most part things are fun out here, but I’ve definitely reached my limit of performing for poorly put together shows. MASSRHYMES has been great in taking care of me and my people on that end as of lately. The indie scene out here is pretty good, lots of variety rolls through the pioneer valley, which is always great to check out and support.
– What is the intersection of art and life like for you personally?
Art is life. I find myself surrounded by creative individuals more often than not and I hope its stats like that. That’s what helps an artist better their self. Making your life art, finding and appreciating what is around you.
– Musically, what values do you hold dear?
The highest above all; genuine content. I’ll always be myself in my music. I’ll never portray myself as something I’m not. Music is an outlet for expression, but it’s also a way for friends and fans to understand me better if they actually take the time to listen. That’s what’s so beautiful about good genuine music. There are so many types of different artists especially in terms of music. I have an appreciation for mainstream artists just as I do underground and independent artists. I find importance to have that balance.
– What passions do you have outside of music?
I’m into quite a bit, I grew up skateboarding and it’s something I’ll always do whether I’m hitting the skatepark with some homies or just pushing to get somewhere. I’m also into biking a lot too, I used to do 15 mile rides to work when I was working out of town, work and then ride back home after a shift. Graphic Design and Video Editing are things I’ve always been into as well. I do all of my own engineering and recording, video editing, photos, designs, etc. It’s been like that since I first started out. I never had anyone to really help me out when I first started so I figured out how to do things little by little. Now I’m at the point where I handle everything. It’s a double edged sword, but there’s more pro’s than cons.
– How many hours do you think went into the creation of Day by Day?
It’s hard to say. Flow Devilish, Insomnia and The Statements were already released tracks. The other five were pieced together one by one. The first two tracks ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘Day By Day’ were bother produced by MadBeats out of Russia. Originally the entire EP was supposed to feature production from MadBeats but we lost touch throughout the process. The most time is always put into recording. I do everything myself and I’m always looking for a clean sound that I feel suits me.
– Can you tell me about some of the collaborations that went into the EP?
I have two features on the EP. The first being ‘Insomnia’ which features The Bright Won on the opening verse and Goomar out of Paris on production. The Bright Won approached me about doing a track and we sat down and made it happen. I love his approach on the first verse and our styles compliment each others pretty well. ‘Hip Hop Music’ features L.E. Purpose on the second verse and my friend Tessa Roy singing on the hook with the production from Loop Holes out of Norway. That was the last track that was recorded for the EP and the outcome was great. ‘Amtrak’ is also a Loop Holes production. The Statements was produced by Dil Withers.
– How did the international production cast come about?
I started working with Loop Holes on ‘The Science of Tactics’ my previous mixtape. They reached out to me through Soundcloud and we’ve kept a pretty stable relationship since. After working with them I was blessed to build bridges with Goomar out of Paris, Soulkit out of Durban City, South Africa and a few more producers from around the world. That’s the beautiful thing about networking, it really allows you to build bridges if you make the right connections. It’s also great having that international element. Being able to extend my network around different parts of the world is a reward within itself. I get messages from people in South Africa telling me my music inspires them and helps them. It’s always those little things that remind me I’m on the right path.
– Who are you most stoked to have worked with to this point in your career?
Scott Stallone. He’s an amazing producer and engineer. He’s worked with Jedi Mind Tricks, Army of The Pharaohs, Ill Bill, etc. He also did Danny Browns ‘Old’ for Fools Gold Records. I was put in touch with the producer Steve Untytled out in Philly through Gary Carter. After being sent some beats I ended up selecting what would become ‘Flow Devilish’, I sent back some rough cuts and eventually made it out to Philly to record with Scott Stallone and shoot a video with SickSix. The session with Scott Stallone was great. He played a major role in putting together the album ‘A Bright Cold Day’ from Dutch, which is a project featuring Liz Fullerton and Stoupe The Enemy of Mankid (The producer for early Jedi Mind Tricks). I’m a HUGE fan of that project so just being able to discuss that process with him and get a first hand view into that entire process was great.
– Can you give some insight on some messages and themes that might be buried a little to the casual listener?
I always try to incorporate myself into the track by referencing little pieces of me. For instance I drop references to hardcore bands from time to time like in ‘Flow Devilish’ for example:
Temptation Lingers in the distance,
I’m a KEEPER OF THE FAITH summon strength to resist it through the TERROR,
I REIGN SUPREME as the UNDERDOG.
Run it hard, my spoken words to God.
To the normal listener, it sounds good, but if you’re a fan of hardcore and hip-hop you might catch on to the references. Terror is a hardcore band from CA, they put out an album in 2010 called ‘Keepers of The Faith’ they also released an album called ‘One With The Underdogs’. Reign Supreme is a band as well. I love sneaking in little things like that. It’s awesome when someone catches it. Ultimaltely, my message is to just be genuine. Find what you feel. Channel it and express yourself within your message.
– Do you have a track you’re proudest of?
I definitely have favorites. ‘From The Soul’ is all time favorite right along with ‘Thankful’ which features Danny Dubz. My favorites are due to where I was at in that period of my life when I wrote it. As soon as the beat drops it brings me right back. If I can feel it, I know my listeners can. ‘Hip Hop Music’ is also a favorite to me. It was the last track I recorded for the EP and everything came together organically. Everything sounds full to me on that track and in it’s proper place.
– If you only had 5 words to describe Day by Day. . .
Diverse. Energetic. Full. Fluid. Relate-able.
– What’s on deck for you?
Continue pushing forward. I just got on a show with Celph Titled which will be happening sometime after the new year, very excited about that. Also seeking distribution. I’d love to get my LP, when it’s ready, pressed on vinyl. That’s alaways been a goal for me. Continuing to connect and build bridges is another big goal, once you get the right connections in place everything takes off. I’m working toward that moment and I’ll continue doing this for myself regardless if I see that or not.