Verbal Threat: Nature of the Threat

The Golden Age of Hip-Hop, according to most historians, ended in 1996, if not sooner. Whatever the case, nobody’s saying “these are the days.” Still, coastal-connect Verbal Threat still pounds out joints themed for the burgeoning age of creativity and mic skills. While most of Hip-Hop is still battling for where the genre should rest its hat in, the veteran duo is doing its best to not let it die, with their new album The Golden Era.

With production from DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, and DJ Babu, Verbal Threat is sure to bring the universality the genre desperately lacks. But as so many comebacks have been halted as new underground blood dries unnoticed, will this duo be able to serve as a reminder, like Jurassic 5 and Pitch Black did before them, or will they stay submerged? Read as Kool Sphere defines his vision, and speaks about sharing the stage and shaking hands with some unlikely suspects. How does the race issue affect the group or its music, if at all?

Kool Sphere: Nowadays, since Hip-Hop is so big, it's not that much of an issue. We stay true to ourselves and the culture as a whole and receive respect for our determination. Having members in New York and Los Angeles, how does both of the coasts affect the music?

Kool Sphere: Verbal Threat tries to keep its music a reflection of the golden era instead of an East [or] West Coast thing. Being that I am from Queens and Reppond is from Santa Ana, California, the coasts only become an issue from the stories that are depicted Sphere coming from an East Coast perspective and Reppond coming from a West Coast perspective. Would you say you’re “underground Hip-Hop”?

Kool Sphere: Yes, we consider ourselves underground because we haven't yet reached mainstream notoriety. We have underground topics and style but almost feel we are defined best as alternative rap. We're not too underground or commercial we're kind of in that mid range, respectable Hip-Hop music. How was it performing with someone like Pharrell that's more of the shinier side of Hip-Hop?

Kool Sphere: Pharrell comes from the golden era influence, and it is always enjoyable to work along side artists who share the same value in music...whether mainstream or underground. He is an extremely talented artist and it was a real pleasure rocking The Viper Room that night. He was a real down to earth cat. so then how do you feel about Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo doing like “rock” or alternative kind of Hip-Hop?

Kool Sphere: Well to me, it’s [still] Hip-Hop. Them cats are real talented, and to me, what they are doing, it’s like a rebellion. All you hear is the same things: songs about dances and s**t. So it’s definitely refreshing to hear them do their thing. I mean, I was caught off guard but I definitely appreciate it. How was it linking up with Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction? Moreover, how was it performing with a rock band period?

Kool Sphere: Stephen Perkins is the drummer for Jane’s Addiction and widely respected as one of the best in the business [at] playing the drums. The night was for Bobo from Cypress Hill's birthday and he had us come on stage and freestyle live at The Viper Room while he played the congos with a guitarist, bassist, and DJJ. It was an ill experience. Performing with a live band isn't new to us, when we toured last year with Guru, Kool Keith we had a live drummer travel to every venue. It brings our music alive. How was it performing in the Viper Room considering its reputation and crazy moments?

Kool Sphere: We broke into the biz playing little shows there, so it is always a pleasure. The rep is crazy and it has an intimate feel to it when performing. Coincidentally, the night we performed with Pharrell, we remixed a Group Home instrumental [of “Up Against The Wall”] and DJ Premier happened to be in the crowd. He approached us after the show and gave us respect for flipping the track the way we did. How did that experience parlay into actually making music with DJ Premier?

Kool Sphere: Mutual friends wanted to see the collabo go down and made it happen. We bounced back and forth from New York City to Cali putting things together. We originally started the whole deal at HeadQcourterz then met up in Hollywood when Preme was working on Christina [Aguilera’s] album. Preme had me chill after the session to introduce me to Nas, and we finally wrapped things up. We envisioned originally getting into the game solely for the purpose of working exclusively with Premier. Why do you feel the need to call out the industry with its infatuation with bling in "Reality Check"?

Kool Sphere: Because there’s not enough balance in Hip-Hop. Verbal Threat's mission is to bring balance back to Hip-Hop. So, all types of legitimate Hip-Hop can get exposure on an equal plane - not just commercial or a certain demographic of the U.S. The same major artists dominate the radio and videos while the vets that really made an impact in this game settle for second best. Instead of the basic hooks and same old nursery sing along lyrics, we're trying to raise the bar to a level where the average wannabe MC will think twice about calling themselves a rapper. The bar is so low, everybody’s rapping now. Hip-Hop needs change and only the vets and cats with a Golden Era state of mind can set things right. The rest of the industry will follow suit.