Saturday, August 14, 2004

Binary Soul

Posted By on Sat, Aug 14, 2004 at 12:00 AM

“I’m the only lyricist that has frostbitten lips/finger tips so cold, I wear mittens when I spit” raps Versiz in the chest-puffing “Have You Ever Heard Of Me.” But don’t hold 22-year-old Jamaal “Versiz” May accountable because he says he’s so hot he’s cold. The guy has exploded on Detroit’s hip-hop scene like an M-80 in a henhouse. Besides, he’s a rather persuasive lyricist. In fact, Versiz’ articulation at times recalls a young KRS-1; his cadence moves swiftly from hasty to dawdling, particularly on the gritty “Paradise,” a groove-rich turn that reveals some eagle-eyed social documentation (“My city never sleeps/eats, weeps or breathes/just teddy bears on trees/and hypocrites on knees/a church on every corner/but the city’s under siege”). In “Success” Versiz asserts that he’ll thrive as an artist despite insuperable odds, and “Rainy Days” is a mellow reality check, one reminding us that, no matter how corny it sounds, life is indeed important. The hard-hitting bounce behind “Discount Revolution” and the steady drum roll of “3 Voices Of The Poor” hold up as sonic pleasures (overall, the simple, bass-heavy production is ornamented well by snares, whistles, or subtle keys). Elsewhere, the horns seem inapt on “Rock The Crowd,” and the generic guitar lick makes “Blind Man” bland. Fitting closer “The Vision” is a spiritual, apocalyptic ditty that details the last days. In the end it’s Versiz’ lyrical themes and witty slant on same that makes this worthy of your car changer.

E-mail Kahn Davison at


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