ACTION VERBS: FEATURING KYLE "VERBS" GUY
WRITTEN BY NICHOLAS MANSOURI
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANE ABAPO
CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - In the back of EdWoods Inc. in Culver City, SUSPEND is conducting a photoshoot. We had originally planned on shooting rapper Kyle “Verbs” Guy, but with the meeting time past and the setting sun upon us, we decided to take advantage of the light while we still had it. We were all really pumped to meet with Kyle as he is an artist that defines the term "on the grind."
Kyle is a local celebrity that has created a name for himself thanks to his unwavering determination to keep climbing to the top. It was because of that steadfast hustlin’ mindset that he was able to network himself to a personal and collaborative level with the likes of Murs of Living Legends, touring with him twice. Most who experience similar dreams would have had a hard time topping them – not VerBS. He lives and breathes this game and will never quit the struggle. It was because of his admirable determination and sizable success that we at SUSPEND were so keen on getting one-on-one time with him.
With the light dwindling and no word from the Los Angeles-based rapper, we were starting to get a little discouraged. All of a sudden the crescendo of bicycle tires came to a stop in the alley behind the shop. The massive metal curtain hid the source from sight, but a smooth, low voice broke through the barrier, "Is this the Eduard Saucedo place?" Immediately our photographer recognized the voice and the chain pulley slowly raised the curtain to reveal VerBS. It was a very grand entrance from the rapper dressed in a colorful Dashiki and red beanie mounted on a vintage fix-wheel conversion. "I'm glad you guys are still here, I had to do some detective work to find this place." Kyle's phone had died, thus making it difficult to contact us. So using his ingenuity and street smarts he went to his nearest computer store to check the location of the photoshoot on a call sheet that was sent him via email. Elated and honored by this extra effort, we wasted no time in getting started. Kyle came fully prepared with several items from his wardrobe and copies of his album. He is always ready to go - and in a world that wants almost everything done for itself - he is deciding to take control and create his own opportunity. We at SUSPEND salute him for that.
Shortly after the shoot Kyle and I had a chance to sit down in the office of EdWoods Inc. and chat. His demeanor is the essence of cool - quick with a joke and thinking on his feet but done in a manner that is effortless. There is no persona about him, he just really is that cool. After thanking him again for his time I quickly dove into my questions.
Q: So we all want to know, what's up with the beanie? It seems like you always have it on.
A: Oh man, I've been wearing beanies for a minute. Then I saw "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" a couple years ago and was like ‘Oh, that shit's tight.’ So I stuck with it.
Q: How did you first discover your passion for rapping?
A: I mean, just listening to rap. Listening to Ice Cube, Common, Mos Def, One Below, Jean Grey, Murs, etc. I like rapping and free- styling. Back in the day in high school is when I started rapping a lot. I just started getting into rap battles and it kept going from there.
Q: What have been your greatest inspirations so far in your rapping career? A: Just… [pause] I don’t know man - I just like rapping. That's the biggest inspiration. I like fuckin’ rhyming and free-styling. And you know, fools who look up to me, I do it for those dudes. I do it for people inspired by my work. I want to carry on that tradition like my predecessors before me.
Q: Where did your moniker ‘VerBS’ originate? A: When I was at my first rap battle at a place called Midnight Records they were like 'What's your rap name?' and I was like '...uh.... VerBS!' and I kept with it since I was 16.
Q: How have you used your passion to give back to others? A: I used to go to this thing called Project Blowd. It was an open mic. I was going there and rapping at all of their anniversary shows and then I started doing my own event called Bananas. And since those were doing well, I got asked to help coordinate the Leimert Park artwalk (a free-style hip hop open mic show). So now, I get to book artists and musicians [grins].
Q: As a rapper, do you have any influences that have helped create your style? A: Yea man - Murs. I used to do this event called The Spliff and through that event I met Murs and he went to the same high school that I did so we bonded with that. I saw him again at the Do Over and said 'Hey let's do a song together.' And the next day he came over to my homie's spot on Crenshaw and Jefferson and we did a song together. He gave me a ride home after and we smoked cigarettes and talked about comic books. I later mentioned to him that I lost my job and was getting evicted and he said 'Well, do you want to come on tour with me and be my hype man?' and I was like 'Hell yeah!' So I was his hype man for his ‘Murs for President’ tour (the third solo album by Murs released in 2008). The second time I went on tour with him I was the opening act. So, [Murs] opened a lot of doors for me.
Q: What messages do you aim for your listeners to pick up when listening to your music? A: ‘You can do it too.’ You know? Because I'm not even ballin,’ ha. I just want to inspire people to rap too, or do whatever they like to do in music. Like, ‘Do it. Don't wait for other people to do it for you. Be everything.’
Q: What direction do you strive for your music to go in the future? A: I just want to rap more. I want to get a cult following. I want to stay relatable, stay relevant and just keep doing what I do on a tighter and bigger scale.
Q: And lastly, what draws you into participating in events such as headlining for OHANA TREE*? A: I just like to have fun. It's always a good time. And that's what I’m about.
*Ohana Tree was a live art and hip-hop event held at the Dragonfly Bar in Hollywood on November 9th 2011. VerBS headlined the night’s lineup, marking his 349th live show.
INTERVIEW/WRITER Nick Mansouri ASSISTANTS Lovelin Descalso & Eddie Saucedo PHOTOGRAPHER Diane Abapo VIDEO Lovelin Descalso LOCATION EdWoods Inc. in Culver City