Crossover creative, VvG vibrantly visualizes musical and graphical creations. With a white-hot passion and crystal-clear vision, his introspective and aggressive lyricism paints a promising picture.
interview by nicole camack // photograph by angel butler
Tell us about your name, “Verbal van Gogh”. Where did it come from and what is the significance? Well, originally my stage name was Young Fre$h. Over the years I felt that there were too many artists with that moniker and I just outgrew that name and the content associated with it. So, I then changed it to Verbal van Gogh which stands for “audible art”.
Tell us about your style. What do you hope to achieve with your musical career? I honestly don’t have a style; whatever the song or vibe makes me feel is what I go with. My main goal is to bring true and original lyrics back to rap. If I go gold or platinum along the way then so be it.
What was your defining experience with music? I would have to say it was in November 2012 when I dropped my project “33rd Degree”. The fan response was so big that it crashed the server of my website. That was the first point in my musical career that I honestly realized this was an industry I could not only be a star in, but change as well.
If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why? Jimmy Hendrix or Big L. Both are gone but in my eyes they both influenced their genres of music forever and rarely get their true credit as all-time greats. When I die I’ll make sure I get a studio session with those two in Heaven.
Artists often cross-over art forms. Tell us about your pursuance in design. Design was something that I always loved but during my life I always had some other passion overshadowing it. While I was in college, I had enough free time to create visually, and from there, VerbalVisuals was born. I was really just too picky to hire a designer for my site or music so I do all of my own graphic work. Those designs are always a topic of discussion with people so it kind of just grew on its own from there.
When did you realize you needed more than just the 9 to 5 life? I never liked a 9-5 life. I quit every one I ever had and I now work for myself, so I knew I needed more than that very early in life. In my life, I’ve always been self-motivated, liked to have a free schedule and be free to pursue whatever I feel.
Where do you create? As crazy as it may sound, I create the most in the car or the shower – two places where you can think about almost anything but you can’t write things down in either place.
What has been your biggest failure? What kept you going? My biggest failure was failing to seal a deal with a label that I’ll allow to remain nameless. In the aftermath of that event, I legally founded my label and down the road it will become their greatest failure and my biggest turning point.
Which musicians inspire you? Jay-Z and Tupac are definitely the artists who inspire me the most. Jay’s business savvy is very inspiring to me as an entrepreneur and Pac’s passion and emotional vulnerability inspires me as a poet. Kanye West and Charlotte artist Elevator Jay also inspire me a lot musically because they’re willing to try almost anything.
What song could be considered the soundtrack of your life? Anything 90’s hip-hop. That point of originality in music and even life is where I draw inspiration from when creating. Everybody wanted to be unique then.
What else do you do that really makes you feel alive? Traveling gives me the feeling of actually living than just existing.
What’s in your future? Success in multiple avenues. I just want my work to help people love and understand music for its true meaning and to open the 3rd eye of anybody willing to see…
This interview was conducted early 2014.