On an autumn day in New York City, sitting in the lobby of the Milford Plaza Hotel with a cup of Patron and Pineapple sat an upbeat Verse Simmonds. You’re saying to yourself, “who’s that?’” and then you Wikipedia him, find out the song(s) he’s known for and realize, “Ooooh, that’s him, that was my song!” Hailing from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and now residing in the music capital at the moment, Atlanta, Georgia, Verse wants you all to know him for more than “Buy You a Round (Up and Down).” With the release of his latest single “Boo Thang” featuring Kelly Rowland and a new deal with Akon’s Konlive/Bu Vision, Verse Simmonds is in the road to redemption. But he never quite left the scene. People seem to forget the spotlight isn’t the only light. Verse Simmonds is one-half the production team, The Jugganauts, who recently have writing and production credits on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s album, Watch the Throne. Another of his behind the scenes accolades is Rihanna’s, “Man Down” and R. Kelly’s, “Crazy Night.”On the helm of the release of his new mixtape, Sextape Chronicles 2, Parlé Magazine was granted the opportunity to talk to Verse Simmonds about music in the limelight and behind the scenes.
Parlé Magazine: It’s been about a year since you hit the scene with your debut single, and people were talking about you being one of the biggest names to hit the scene in 2011, but then you almost disappeared on us. What happened after the release of “Buy You A Round?”
Verse Simmonds: I ended up being on the road, writing and producing with my partner. The label I was on ended up changing management. Now I’m with Akon’s KonLive and he wants me to be the face of it. This is perfect timing to revamp myself as an artist.
Parlé: How was the encounter with Akon?
Verse Simmonds: I have known Akon for a long time, since 2003. Last year he asked for my help on his album. There he asked me to get down with his movement.
Parlé: Take us back to the beginning.
Verse: I have a production company called the Jugganauts (Verse and Sak PasMakin) and we were producing for a lot of upcoming acts. We produced AK Sent’s album and that broke us into the industry. I moved from the Virgin Islands to Florida to Los Angeles and now I’m in Atlanta now everything is taking off.
Parlé: A lot of artists either go to L.A. or Atlanta these days, is New York is no longer a market.
Verse: (laughs) New York is where you come for press. I think different markets take turns and the south is taking it now. One of my reasons for moving to Atlanta was the music scene. When you come to Atlanta, on the radio you can hear every party for the whole week. I visited one time and the second time I moved there.
Parlé: How did you get with Kelly Rowland for the “Boo Thang” record?
Verse: We let Kelly hear the record and she loved the record so we let her get on it. It was a blessing to get her excited to be on my record.
Parlé: With so much going on, how are you able to keep it going? How do you describe your work ethic?
Verse: I wake up and every day I am on a mission. We’re on a making music mission. I wake up and go to the studio or an airport. I’m working on a mixtape and the album.
Parlé: What is the album looking like?
Verse: I’m trying my best to be really honest. It will be a real life perspective on relationships and bringing love back into the music. I want it to be music that women love, but men aren’t afraid to play.
Parlé: How are going to set yourself apart from other young artists that are trying to do the same thing?
Verse: They have to be able to produce and write. Man, there is a lot of stuff that they have to be able to do. Hard work beats talent and I’m blessed to have both but I know I still have to work harder than the next man.
Parlé: Let’s talk about your production credits on Watch the Throne?
Verse: It’s a blessing to have that kind of credit under my belt. We have “Made in America” and “Who Gon’ Stop Me,” and those were one of those it just happened moments. Kanye and Jay-Z wanted some stuff from us and we sent them some music. The first beat we sent them was “Who Gon’ Stop Me” and they loved it. A lot people don’t know that’s me on the hook though they think its Kanye.
Parlé: Do you think you have moments of genius?
Verse: I’m a Virgo, so we’re perfectionist (laughs). Even in our moments of genius we might not see it as that. It may take someone else to tell us that it was genius. If I do [have those moment] I’m waiting for someone to come tell me.
Parlé: Thanks for the time, look forward to the album.
Images by Jay Bastien for Parlé Magazine
Readers Might Also Like: