Photo Cred: Dana Washington

Max Bell guesses like the jeans

Prolificacy is usually equated with prominence. Raise your digital flag daily or sink amidst the coded stream. Rappers usually feel compelled to bear this burden more than most, fearful of being relegated to blog freezers. Thankfully, there are rappers like L.A.’s Versis, those who’ve long risen above the fear, releasing material not on a whim but when they feel it’s ready. He knows that several hours of output each year isn’t synonymous with talent. In the era of content over everything, he’s a perfectionist who only seems like he’s hardly working.

The 23-year-old’s BandCamp releases date back to 2009. The three singles and one EP he dropped that year that appear akin to youthful recklessness compared to following years. In 2010 he released his first and only LP, iLLCANDESCENT, a markedly auspicious opening salvo for a high school senior. Largely scored by jazzy and percussive boom-bap production from frequent collaborator T. Hemingway, there were also suites from revered underground beatsmiths Dibia$e and Exile. No matter who was behind the boards, Versis displayed precocious skill and polish. His lyrics, delivery, and hooks, all of which prized the substantive over hedonistic substance abuse, surpassed most teens today. The comparisons to early Blu are there, but don’t detract from the album’s efficacy.

Over the last four years Versis has only released a handful of singles and the three-track Barista EP, all of which were separated by many months. This is all a round about way of saying that if you haven’t been checking for Versis, chances are that are his music slipped through the cracks of your RSS feed. The track you might’ve seen was the Dibia$e produced “Fly Me T’The Moon.” A banging slice of the celestial with an ounce of soul, Versis simultaneously advocates ganja intake and eliminates foes with each exhale. In 2011, it was his best work to date. Unfortunately, a collaborative project never materialized.

In light of all of the above, the title of Versis’ latest offering, “Growing Pain91,” is as apt as it is self-aware. Over Iman Omari’s mellow yet knocking, off-kilter beat, Versis condenses the past few years of his life into less than 90 seconds. Lost love, politics, changing locales, working on new music, and Joseph Heller references – the essentials. The brevity bares the mark of an experienced practician, someone who’s trimmed the fat, chosen all of the right words. Versis has never had too little to say. He says all he needs to.

More of Versis’ catalogue is below, including the R&B inflected “Deep Seated (feat. Kid A)”, which is well worth your time. Rumor has it that he’s at work on another LP. There’s no telling when or if it will drop. Either way,  in a rap landscape filled with ‘official leaks’ and music video previews, it’s comforting to know that some things are still worth waiting for.

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