NOME X is not a big deal to Aye Verb.
The pioneer says that this NOME is just another day at work, another stage to desecrate and another win to take home to the Midwest. The only reason why he is outside anyway is because someone dared him to come out. And more than money or clout, if you want Aye Verb to move —throw a rock at his armor, attack his legacy or call his bluff— and that will motivate the Island God to leave his tropical bliss.
Newcomer Geechi Gotti should have known better, but youth oftentimes clouds one’s judgment.
He has taken a slingshot and banged at battle rap’s Goliath … daring to disturb the rap giant.
The two-time champion of the year is on it, seeing this fight that he has picked as some sort of David and Goliath squabble.
But in this cannon, the little guy might not win. After all, the Goliath from St. Louis has already stood before two gods and still lives to tell. He re-writes sacred narratives often with this rambunctious spirit of disruption and his brilliant ability to kill the fan’s heroes, bringing down their champions. If there is a villain in battle rap, Aye Verb might just be it.
Perhaps, “villain” is not the word for him. Could it just be that he has the audacity to play the game of battle rap with the dice that he brings to the board, his own deck of cards?
“I am in my own world and I make my own rules,” Verb states. “I am my own government. So in my mind, I am the Island God and I run my own world. I wake up and do what I want. I say what I want to say and I live by my rules. I don’t conform. I don’t follow. I lead.”
“And when you come and deal with me over here, I come up off the island. I show you what time it is and then I swim back in the water. It is kind of like a Black Aquaman type thing. I am like a protector.”
As a protector, Aye Verb wants the world to be clear that he is not some guardian of the culture, an old head trying to stop the new guys from coming in. That would be noble. He is a warrior out to protect HIS honor and the honor of his city.
“I don’t care about the culture, or them over there, I only care about me and my people, my city, my region. I don’t care about nothing else. I care about protecting this line that I set. I don’t care about the new faces. I care about St. Louis first, the region, the South. That is what I stand for. More than anything I just want to defend my people, St. Louis people. Because we didn’t come from having respect. I am going to defend that every single time.”
Everything is about having a warrior mentality for Verb. That is what happens when you feel as though you have not gotten your just due. And unlike so many that come into the game with chips on their shoulders, no one may have more of a right to feel this way than he and the region that he so vehemently protects.
At the dawn of this new era of battle rap culture, Aye Verb was catching wreck all throughout the Midwest. The world has seen the videos where he and his folk came out to Harlem, which at that time was considered the Mecca for battle rap, to contest against their reigning kings. The St. Louis vs. Lion’s Den card was supposed to be epic, but the venue was not secured by Loaded Lux, the promoter and the cats from the Gateway to the West were basically assed out. They were out there and just wanted to rap — the Island God had already come out with his lyrical machete exposed and ready to rhyme.
Out on a cold street, there is a conversation captured between him and the Bronx rapper, Goodz da Animal. Verb ready for war steps to the slick-talking Goodz asking for the rap fade, but Goodz dubbed him. He dubbed him to check a shorty. From then on, it is clear to Verb that there is a bias against him because he is not from the Northeast (who back then were considered at the top of the totem pole of Hip-Hop across the board).
But there is no denying now that he is at the top of the food chain in this culture.
Part of the reason why he is still here and has risen continuously is because Verb nurtures his mind, body, and spirit in spaces of darkness.
“I read. I like to store different types of information in my head. I like to think about things and if it is bullsh*t, I cast it aside. Right now, I am reading the book, 48 Laws of Power, again. It teaches you how to deal with every human being in a different way. You may say to yourself, ‘I know that this is the smartest way of dealing with this.’ It makes you cold and numb to people. Nothing can bother you because you have this information in your head.”
“I like to be numb. If you show no emotion, they don’t know how to get you. I got that way because of my city.”
When you think of the concrete jungles of the country, you often think about the cities in the Northeast. But every city has one and the level of impoverished mentality that goes along with these cities could not only turn someone’s heart cold but kill their spirit of survival. St. Louis, according to Verb, is no exception.
“Daylyt came to do a movie in my city and he called me and he told me that he doesn’t know how I could exist in this situation. He said, ‘the whole city feels like an abandoned building.’ So it makes you numb. You can’t trust nobody. My city makes you feel like if we are going to have a problem, either we squash it or we just going to go there.”
Verb contends that the city is this way by design. He breaks down how the actual St. Louis was a slave owner and the oppressive energy that he represents is “still floating around.” While he loves his city, he is clear on the negative energy that pulsates through it and refuses to abandon it. While the world sees him as a villain, where he is from, he is a champion.
“The thing about my city is once we have a champion, we ride with him. There are a lot of us who are worthy of our city. But we become numb because there is a lack of opportunity. What burns me up about a lot of East Coast people is that y’all have everything y’all need to make it and y’all can’t. That doesn’t make sense. We don’t have the same opportunities. We are not going to just run into someone that can change your life. I look at them and I say, ‘what are y’all doing wrong with y’all lives that y’all can’t pull this off?’ Our city shuts down at 1:30 am. St. Louis clubs are closed and everything is over. So we can’t even network or nothing. We are not outside.”
In fact, if you look at the current civil unrest that the nation is experiencing, this is nothing new. And feeds more into why he is not only a champion but has to be on this mythological island on his own. There is a war going on outside and he has to stay ready for combat —not just to win a battle but to survive.
“The lights are on the problems, but it doesn’t change them. We deal with this every single day, but if you are just walking around blind with your eyes closed then of course you are going to be sensitive to me and mine. We have been dealing with this every day and the only difference is that it is on TV now. Once they put it on TV and put it in the media, it is programming the people to have fear.”
“I am fearless. The fearless comes inside. My mother is fearless, that is a genetic thing. I am actually more logical than anything. I don’t make decisions out of emotion. I also don’t like to do more than one thing at a time. I don’t multitask. I lock-in. If you are multitasking that means something is not getting 100%. Like so when I have to go on stage, I don’t have sex, I don’t do none of that. I need to keep my head straight. I don’t like to be distracted.”
And so much can distract him if he is not careful, which is why he chooses to isolate himself. It is also the reason why he doesn’t watch the new battlers when they come up.
“I don’t watch them.
For good reason. He doesn’t watch them because they have to earn the look just like he did. No one gave him anything. This is why this NOME X is just another walk in the park for him. There is nothing that he has not seen or done. But while Verb doesn’t watch them, he respects what they do.
“I have to respect what they do. It’s not easy to get up there and do what we do on the stage. A lot of people don’t realize that.”
“This is different from what Eminem and them were doing. They are not doing what we are doing. We have to deal with great people every night.”
An example of those greats will be on display at NOME X. Among them is Geechi Gotti.
“Yeah, Geechi is one of them. He demanded the look. The battle came into play because Geechi said that all of the vets were afraid of him. I was like ‘who you talking to?’”
The Island God already told you that there is no fear. He is awakened. Moved to swim off his island and at NOME X, we will see if he will go back to his pink sands unscathed.