Vinny Virgo is an up-and-coming rapper hailing from Tampa Bay, Florida, currently flexing his musical muscles in legendary Los Angeles. His lyrics are as potent and colorful as his beats, which collide intensely between trippy melodies and galactic bass. He’s been on MTV’s "RapFix LIVE" and has received direct words of intellect, praise, and advice from Talib Kweli himself. He is by no means close to slowing down or easing up on his ride to becoming a hip hop sage, encouraging others to not give in to complacency or sedentary lifestyles, but instead to “Do Everything and Die” through both his music and his own Dead Bird line of clothing.
JORDAN: What medias do you gain inspiration from when writing lyrics? VINNY VIRGO: I try to gain inspiration from everything I come into contact with in my daily life like movies, pictures, conversations I have with people, conversations I overhear others having etc. Pretty much anything that can be acted upon.
Do you base your lyrics to the production or vice versa, mix of both? It's weird when I first started making music I could write verses all day with no beat but there wasn't necessarily a concept to them all, but as I progressed over the years my process of writing gained purpose so a lot of times now I go based off of the vibe of the production to tap into the mind of the producer unless we're making something from scratch.
What’s currently on your mental for pushing out new creative material in the near future? Consistency and the time it takes to make something different that still has recognizable vibes to the listeners. Most artists who are great lyricists are always faced with the battle of creating the most complex content versus just making good music that people can really connect with, understand, and not fly over their heads when you deliver it to them.
What producers do you really enjoy working with? My favorite producer to work with would have to be DJ ORC. His sound is what my artistry has been craving for a long time. As far as giving me new heights to reach and boxes to stay far away from naturally just based off of his talent and mine coming together. We have an untitled EP coming out pretty soon that is close to being done. The song "Trippy Gillespie" I just released is actually the first single off of the EP.
Who is the song “Wanting You” about? What was the inspiration and process behind writing your first hit? It was just really about every girl I ever wanted and never got up to that point, which is funny because that song brought a majority of them to me afterwards. (laughs) It just happened naturally and effortlessly; I didn't even know how big it was going to be when I was writing it. It was more of an experimental track at the time for the females. A group of homegirls back home that me and my boys kicked it with were always listening to like G-Eazy, etc. and I needed that reaction to my own craft so I put it out into the universe and it manifested. I knew I needed somethin’ like “Wanting You” – I just didn't know how I was going to create it at the time and then it just came out of nowhere. Fate.
How many blunts do you smoke a day? I've actually cut back a lot on blunts without really trying to but fronto is somewhat of an essential. It’s a large natural tobacco leaf (like a blunt) in its purest form, unprocessed etc. It’s an islander/East Coast thing but people know… But I smoke about roughly six joints a day depending on the event and vibe of the day. I like to smoke when I'm in a really good mood or pissed off and I'm usually in the middle somewhere (laughs).
What was your mindset when you realized that Music is what you wanted to do full time? I was on shrooms with one of my good friends back in Florida and I had just recently really started making music in the group I was in [at the time] and people were starting to take notice of my talent and see that I wasn't just that quiet chill guy they knew from high school. But I started just pondering during my trip and I started to see it all happening in my head… and I liked what I saw and realized this was what I was born to do.
Take us through a better day in the life of Vinny Virgo. Wake up around 8am. Walk Paydro (coolest dog ever). Roll a joint before I eat. Watch Netflix while I eat and then I start getting productive and plotting on new ideas and writing and researching random stuff online to be inspired by and learn about. Then maybe go out into the city to explore a little bit and run errands and just enjoy Los Angeles without thinking about music or working on stuff for a while to clear my head of all the brainstorming and just relax… and then probably save a few cats and old ladies from burning buildings before I retreat back into my superhero lair (studio or home).
Where did you come up with the name Vinny Virgo? My real name is Vincent but I've been called Vinny my entire life and around the time I started doing shrooms I got really into astrology and just became very conscious and aware of myself as a Virgo more than I did before through readings and research about the characteristics of certain signs etc. I just grew to embrace it so much and made it my Facebook name while I was still in my group. People just caught on and ran with it, so when I went solo it was already in motion for me luckily.
How do you think rap has changed in the last decade? Like Talib said in your interview, “MC's can't get away with just making rhymes about how good of a rapper they are, they have to be a bit more creative.” How do you feel you've adapted? I wouldn't really say I've had to adapt to it just because that's how I've always treated the process of making music. I started off pushing myself to be more creative rather than just rapping anything on any beat so I think that's something I was blessed with naturally, but right now we are in the greatest stage that Hip-Hop will ever be in, kind of like Rock [music] up to ’95 or 2000, but I love it though. There are so many dope artists pushing the culture and really making a difference in people's lives while being creative, clever, and building a life for themselves doing it. I’m glad to be doing my part in this generation in the midst of it all.
You said in your interview with MTV that you wanted to stay independent for as long as you could. Do you see yourself trying to create a label eventually, like Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, or go a route similar to Logic’s with mixtape after mixtape until you drop an album… or are you just doing Vinny Virgo? I'm just doing me really. That's all I can do. At this point I'm still on my journey, learning new things that work for me as I progress and continue to grow as a person and an artist. But I do have a big long-term goal for Dead Bird to be that organically just like my vision as a whole – whether it be music, short films, production etc. I'm just a creative mind so Dead Bird is more than a label or brand: It’s the life. Do Everything And Die.
What was it like appearing on MTV Jams? It was like a dream, honestly. It didn't seem real until a few days had passed and my fans and friends and the whole town were talking about it, and shocked that someone they know from the city was on MTV. It inspired a lot of people for sure, which is most important. But to me, I knew it wasn't like, "I made it" yet. It was just a very big accomplishment in progression and a good look, but I want much more than that. It definitely added to my motivation and assured me that I'm doing what I'm supposed to.
What have you done with the advice that Talib Kweli gave you on MTV'S "RapFix LIVE"? I've definitely taken it and stored it in into my knowledge of the industry and how a lot of things really work outside of the actual music-making process. Because after that is where it really becomes a grind and a battle. To win a battle you must attain knowledge, be smart, and know how to maneuver the playing field against your opponent, which in this case is the business itself to get your music heard and find yourself as an artist. Politics.
What kind of “substance” or message do you try to consistently put out with your music? Just living life in general, wanting to know your purpose, and being conscious of everything that comes with it whether it be a drug or the different emotions or experiences that come with living in this realm.
Lastly, Forest Hills Drive, Under Pressure, or B4.DA.$$? Forrest Hills Drive. I haven't completely taken the dive into the other two just yet but the few tracks I've heard are dope. Definitely a fan of all three.
All photography by Kayla Reefer