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If there was one outstanding hip-hop record that flew under just about everyone’s radar last year, it was Versis‘ debut LP, iLLCANDESCENT. With tracks produced by underground phenom Dibia$e, the album is suffused with an eclectic, mid-school atmosphere that calls to mind favorites from A Tribe Called Quest and Craig Mack. The feel is more soulful than jazzy with plenty of space in the mix for Versis to command the listener’s attention.
“The Need,” iLLCANDESCENT‘s eleventh cut, is built around a shimmery sample that could come just as easily from a Washed Out single as a De La Soul b-side. It makes for a hypnotic beat that never gets in your face but is likely to get stuck in your head.
Of course, the main attraction is Versis’ exceptional vocal performance, which benefits from creative bits of timing and lyrical syncopation. While the Pasadena rapper is prone to the occasional boastful cliché, Versis also whips up more than his fair share of clever turns of phrase and wicked slant rhymes. One of my favorite lines on “The Need” deals with his frustration of remaining such an underground artist: “I’m in a whirlwind / These thoughts wrapping up my mind like a turban / And why is everybody (w)rapping like it’s Christmas / And getting signed in no time, tell me what is this?”
While it must be frustrating for a hip-hop artist as talented as Versis to know that fans can’t buy his records on Amazon, his low profile is something to be treasured by his fans… At least while it lasts, since it seems likely that Versis is moments away from something very big.