by Howard Campbell
[PHILADELPHIA] – Like many black kids in Philadelphia 20 years ago, Verse Mega loved jamming to songs from progressive hip hop and neo-soul acts like A Tribe Called Quest and D’Angelo.
His playlist also included artists from his native Jamaica, who wore their love for marijuana on their sleeves.
Verse Mega was born in the parish of Trelawny, whose most famous son is sprint phenom Usain Bolt. He reaches out to “stoners” on 04/19his last song.
“I’m a weed advocate in that if alcohol is legal, why not weed? I always said it was because the government could not control and tax. Alcohol was illegal in the United States during Prohibition…. now we have state stores. Also, the criminalization of weed has had a crazy effect on the black community here. It all felt like a hustle to me,” Verse Mega explained.
04/19 was released on April 19 on all digital platforms, a day before weed enthusiasts around the world celebrated the virtues of marijuana. The song is produced by his cousin Kirk Bennett, the most requested drummer in reggae.
Verse Mega pointed out that he does not smoke but is aware of economic and health benefits of marijuana. On 04/19, he saw the perfect opportunity to mix his musical influences to tackle a sensitive subject.
“My sound is a hybrid. I’ve always been a rapper with strong roots-reggae and dancehall influences. This next project is more of a dancehall/reggae project with hip hop influences,” he explains. “Dancehall and hip hop are close relatives anyway. I’m more naturally a rapper because I grew up with a Philly accent but I also like to write reggae.
Verse Mega emigrated to Philadelphia with his parents when he was three years old. He has been a recording artist since he was 14; his most notable work is the 2007 album, Audio Visuals.