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The best kept secret in music


"Rap Duo's Performance To Aid Katrina Victims"

October 20, 2005
It takes all kinds.
Victims of Hurricane Katrina continue to need help across the country, and one local rap duo are hoping to keep people aware of it.
Matthew Trevarthen and Mario Villanueva, also known respectively as X-It and TexT, and collectively as VeRb, will perform this weekend at Octoberfest, a three-night long show at the Bullfrog Bar & Grill in Redford, which they helped organize.
The Canton Township twosome spoke recently in their basement studio about how they wanted to help continuing efforts to rebuild down south.
“Even this morning, I’ll be up at four in the morning working on some music,” said Trevarthen. “You look at the homes there, everything’s moldy, roofs are falling in. Everything’s breaking down.”
VeRb also played the Rockin’ For a Hurricane show in Mt. Clemens on Oct. 9. Thirty-five bands performed at six bars to aid Katrina victims. And even after Oktoberfest, they may not be through.
“I honestly could see me and Mario doing another benefit,” Trevarthen said. He noted that the rebuilding process wouldn’t be over in just a few months.
“It’s going to take a long time,” he said.
Benefit appearances could be seen as a sign of maturity for VeRb, who sought mere admiration from their school peers when they formed in 1999 for a middle school talent show. They’ve since been on stage at a range of venues, from the Bullfrog and the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor to East Middle School and Livonia Mall.
“We’ve done churches [and] clubs on Eight Mile and Telegraph in Detroit,” said Trevarthen.
VeRb knows when it’s necessary to edit their explicit lyrics for a benefit concert. They said their set on Oktoberfest’s third night will be geared toward all ages.
“Completely clean,” said Villanueva.
As they lay down new tracks, Trevarthen noted, some of that language isn’t even necessary.
“I think as we’ve matured more…we’ve stopped using the swear words and all that.”
Oktoberfest is put on annually by the Bullfrog. This year, all the proceeds will be donated to Red Cross and Salvation Army relief funds. VeRb has helped recruit for Sunday night’s show, and over three days more than 25 groups will perform, including fellow Canton rappers Tickety T and Young Giant, as well as local rock and country bands.
Canton isn’t typically thought of as a hotbed for hip-hop, but Trevarthen (X-It) and Villanueva (TexT) haven’t let their white suburban upbringing slow them down. They’ve aligned themselves with Detroit independent label 111 Entertainment and are preparing to release their debut LP next year.
Oktoberfest takes place Oct. 21-23 at the Bullfrog Bar & Grill, located at 15414 Telegraph Road in Redford. For more information, call (313) 533-4477.

- The Journal Newspapers

"Rap On - Local teens pursue hip hop fame"

June 16, 2005.- Canton Eagle, Inkster Ledger Star, Northville Journal, Plymouth Journal, Romulus Roman, Wayne Eagle, Westland Eagle

Forget Compton, the next big hip-hop phenomenon might just be coming straight out of Canton.
The township may seem an unlikely breeding ground for rappers, but that hasn't stopped VeRb from making the music they love.
The duo, consisting of Mario Villanueva (TexT) and Matthew Trevarthen (X-It), have performed since the the 1990s all over the Detroit metropolitan area. They have also just finished as an opening act for local hip-hop hero, Paradime and have performed at the Canton Relay For Life two years in a row.
VeRb began when Villanueva, 20, and Trevarthen, 21, began riding the same bus as sicth graders at Lowell Middle School. Trevarthen said it was at this point Villauneva introduced him to hip-hop music. They weren't content just being fans, though.
"We started rapping back and forth on the bus," Trevarthen said.
In the eighth grade, the two entered a talent show where they performed "Woof, Woof" by the 69 Boyz. They said they recieved a rousing reception.
"We had the crowd going. It was great," Villanueva said. "We felt the high from the crowd, so we just kept doing it."
They began writing their own lyrics and rapped them over other groups' beats. It wasn't long before they were setting up their own studio and producing their own music, though.
In 2003, Villanueva and Trevarthen graduated from Canton High School. During their senior year, they had taken the name VeRb, recorded a demo and sold it to the fellow students at their school, as well as other area schools.
Now, by night, the two may perform at places like the Bullfrog Tavern in Redford or the Shelter, but by day, they are both mild-mannered employees at Boston Market in Canton.
They said they know that the road to fame and fortune is an uphill climb.
"We don't expect overnight success," Villanueva said.
VeRb said they are influenced by a lot of different artist, not necessarily in the hip-hop genre. They grew up listening to oldies like Elton John, Bob Marley and Stevie Ray Vaughn. They do admit a fondness for Eminem and Busta Rhymes, though. Their influences come not always from pop culture, either.
"Its us feeding off of each other, not anyone else. I'm influenced by this guy right here and what we go through," Villanueva said.
The lyrics in their songs are varied. They said that one song will be about happiness, and the next is about wanting to kill yourself.
They admit Canton isn't exactly a hotbed of hip-hop culture and know it's a tad bit harder being taken seriously as a couple of white boys from the 'burbs in a musical form that is traditionally black and urban.
They are undaunted, though.
"If you have the skill and show everyone respect, it doesn't matter what color your skin is, or what your background is," Trevarthen said. - John Counts

"Local Hip-Hop Band Raps To A Different Beat Then Peers"

March 27,2005.- Canton Observer

By day, Matthew Trevarthen and Mario Villanueva are a couple of 20 year old guys. But by night they are X-It and TexT, the two rappers who make up the hip hop band VeRb.
The duo from Canton is being signed by Detroit talent company "111 Entertainment" in April.
"When that happens, we get down to business," said Villanueva.
That's when the first 12-18 month sales cycle of a record contract begins. The cycle includes a wave of promotional appearances and the distribution of professionally produced CD samplers to potential fans.
The band hopes they'll be selected to perform at the August Billboard Hip Hop and R&B conference and awards in Atlanta.
"One Eleven Entertainment is really trying to get us down there, and we really want that to happen. That would be great exposure," Trevarthen said.
Trevarthen and Villanueva met when they were sixth-graders riding the same bus to school. The two shared a love of music, particularly rap and hip hop, and two years later performed at a school talent show.
That's when they caught the performing bug, and they haven't been able to cure it since. They get together as often as they can to make music, write lyrics, choreograph their routine and mix their recordings.
It's not all fun and games, though, they take it seriously. For days leading up to a performance, they run while they rap to perfect their breathing and build the stamina required for performing live. They hope the discipline will help set them apart from any other two guys making music in a makeshift basement studio. But it's also an attitude in their music - a positive, regular-guy with a dream message- that makes them different from other performers in their genre.
"Our lyrics aren't about guns, drugs and ho's," Trevarthen said.
It's about what we're feeling and what we go through every day, with our families, our music, our dreams or just driving in the car with our girlfriends," Villanueva added.
And the lyrics have so far appealed to broad audiences. According to the pair, only one person who's heard VeRb has said he didn't like them.
They don't expect overnight success, but they're banking on their dreams anyway.
"We're different because we understand that this is a business and it will take three to five years for people to recognize us," Villanueva said. "What happens to alot of people when they get signed is they say right away, 'OK, now I'm signed. Where's my check? Where's my fame?' But we know that it's not like that. We have to invest in it."
For more information about VeRb, call the VeRb hotline at (313) 961-6055, or visit them on the web at
- Carol Marshall


VeRb - EP, 2002

VeRb - VeRbatim - LP, 2003

VeRb - Songs In The Key of V - LP, 2004

(All CD' s Above Were Recorded At L.!.P. Records. These CD's Were Sold At The Local High Schools)


Feeling a bit camera shy


You don’t need to look in streets of New York City, or in California’s Compton and Long Beach. You don’t even need to go down south to St Louis or Atlanta. All you have to do is take 275 to the Ford Road exit, go east and you will be welcomed to Canton, Michigan, Home to the industries most finest and best, VeRb.

VeRb is a hip-hop group that consists of two members, Mario Villanueva a.k.a. TexT and Matthew Trevarthen a.k.a. X-It. The two met in 1996 on the bus ride home from Lowell middle school, only to find they both shared the same love and interest for music. Then, in 1999 for the middle school talent show, they performed the song “Woof, Woof” by the 69 Boyz. After the enthusiastic response they received from all their peers plus the indescribable high of being on stage, Mario & Matt knew what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

For the first three years of high school all they did was write and create music. Writing lyrics was never a problem for this duo, yet when it came to beats they had to resort to any resource they had available. Most of the early recordings were rapped over mainstream beats. They used these beats to figure out how long the song should be, how long the verse should be, how long the chorus should be and in essence, how to make a professional song. Even though the mainstream beats were working, these two were always striving for originality. So given their limited resources their first demo was made with simple keyboard beats and a karaoke machine, showing the drive and dedication of this tandem.

2002 - 2003, not just senior year of high school but the graduation for VeRb on to bigger and better things. This was the year where Mario became TexT and Matt became X-It and the two collectively took the name VeRb. This was the year they jumped into the scene with their debut E.P. consisting of four original tracks. This was also the year they built a recording studio in the basement, the L.!.P., where they could further there original and creative unique brand of hip-hop. Also adding to the list of accomplishments, they did numerous talent shows and charity events to give back to the community. Looking back on all the accomplishments they felt they had made in just one year, they knew they had to end it with a BANG, VeRbatim, the first L.P. produced in the L.!.P. by VeRb. This went on to sell numerous copies and was a big hit in the local high schools.

High School ended… reality struck. After their success in the local high school, VeRb realized this hip-hop thing was bigger then they ever imagined. Everybody’s sister, uncle, mother, father, and brother wanted to rap, so once again VeRb harnessed their skills. They learned how to make their own beats and how to record in the studio more professionally. They would practice hours on end to create the perfect stage show and to leave you, the audience, wanting more.

November 2004 VeRb was finally ready to show the whole world their talent. Using their business know-how they were finally able to book their own shows. Weather it was a showcase night at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, a opener for another local artist PARADIME, or a local radio station sponsored event at the Bullfrog in Redford. VeRb continues to win the crowd, building their fan base, and always moving on to bigger and better venues.

Along the road VeRb sent 111 Entertainment a demo. Seeing the potential in this hop-hop duo, 111 Entertainment took VeRb under their wing, teaching them how to be more business savvy. VeRb now records professionally knowing how to use equipment like the MPC 3000 and 4000, the Triton Xtreme, Motif Rack, Proteus 2000, and the Nord Lead.

VeRb is in the process of recording their Debut Independent Label release, which will be entitled, VeRb Entertainment. They are always striving to be the best they can possibly be. Always finding new and creative ways to make their music different from the next persons hip-hop. Originality is what you could call their music, VeRb Music.

They do not expect overnight success. They understand that this is a business and that it takes time to build. But, you will always find VeRb in your local club or bar performing. They will continue to be in the studio writing lyrics and recording. They will always be doing hip-hop.

VeRb… It’s what they do.