Verbal Sideshow
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Verbal Sideshow

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"Verbal Sideshow - These Three Words"

There’s a specific term for the contradiction embodied in the phrase “Christian Rap.” I think it’s called an oxymoron, maybe a paradox, shit, maybe we’ll just label it extreme juxtaposition and call it a day.

One of the great challenges of Hip-Hop is not just creating a product that is positive yet marketable, it’s making a product whose musicality is so up to par that the CD transcends its actually lyrical message. So, who is this tandem called Verbal Sideshow? Their album These Three Words boast to hold the stuff that enlighten minds and, you know what, they may be on to something.

Verbal Sideshow consists of Verbal, the emcee, and Sideshow, the sideshow. Their lyrics are drenched with religious propaganda. They constantly remind you of who died for your sins, they ask “where have all the miracles gone,” and these guys don’t be lewd, they be-lieve. That’s pretty deep. What is more, the two have the tremendous will to advocate Christian spirituality in New York City, the great bastion of sex, drugs, violence, and all other things secular.

These Three Words can best be summed up by its strongest track, “One By One,” where the duo chants in the chorus, “We are tidal wave, you are only in the way.” Verbal Sideshow’s bible hop style is a weird cross between Creed and Aesop Rock. Yet, the technique is there, referring to songs like, “Glass Half Full” and “Where I Begin.” The lyrics are also present and accounted for. In “Hear Me Now,” Verbal reasons with himself, “I should count my blessings in case I die before I tally them/ After all the adding of the borrowing and carrying,” and the insight gets accentuated by Sideshow’s harmonic crooning.

The production of These Three Words leans towards solid guitar arpeggios and dramatic pianos melodies. Tracks like “One by One” sounds like throwback soundtracks 80’s movie. Verbal Sideshow’s three weapons are immediately their rapper, their singer, and their guitarists, which is a recipe for infinite. Yet, there are several points where they did not use their assets to their most imaginative potential. Sideshow, for the most part, functions as Verbal’s re-inforcer and rarely gets a verse to himself. In “An Open Letter,” the elements, rapper, singer, and guitar, exist separately instead of cohesively.

Verbal Sideshow can add a few more folks who believe that with the right managing and performing ethic, this progressive group can stir up a sandstorm or two. Not to mention the fact that these guys probably have a dope live show given the different elements they can work with on stage. Perhaps, people will get on bandwagon when it goes around and not after it comes around.

http://www.okayplayer.com/reviews/index.php/weblog/more/these_three_words/


- Sidik Fofana @ okayplayer.com


"Artist of the Week - An Interview with Verbal Sideshow"

Sometimes things just come together. This can be taken in a few ways in regards to this week’s Artist Of The Week, Verbal Sideshow. Sideshow had been emailing me his group’s show dates and I had never been able to make any of them. Thankfully, about a month ago I was finally able to make it to one of their Hear Me Now events and it was completely worth the trip into the city, as evidenced by their appearance on this site today. The story behind Verbal Sideshow is also one of coming together. Equipped with an MC, singer, DJ, drummer, bassist and guitarist, the group has evolved over the years and today creates a unique brand of music that has Hip-Hop at its essence, but a myriad of other inspirations floating in and out of it as well. They call it “the cure for the common soul,” and this week I caught up with Sideshow to find out more about the group, their widespread appreciation of all forms of music, and why they like to shine the spotlight on so many other acts during their shows. In his own words he was more than happy to “Spread The Verb.”

Adam Bernard: Where are each of you from and how have your backgrounds helped mold your music?

Sideshow: Verbal, Professor P, K-Cam and I were all born and raised in Queens, NY. Add One was born in Eugene, Oregon, lived for a time in Cyprus, and moved to Long Island, NY, in his late teens. Our new drummer, Jason, his nickname is Slim, was born in raised in Jamaica, Queens, and currently lives on Long Island. Each of our upbringings has been relatively different with the exceptions being Bryan and Professor P, who are twins. In writing about our own lives we found commonalities that implied the experiences of everyone among our generation. Our families, our time on the streets in our neighborhoods, our relationships, our thoughts about the purpose and meaning of our lives, all became the threads that we saw as tying everyone together. They’ve become the themes that recur in our lyrics.

Adam Bernard: Topically you sounded almost inspirational when I saw you live. Is that where you’re looking to go with your music? What are your goals when you’re putting a song together?

Sideshow: I think we’re going to have to work on the “almost” part. (laughs) We want people to be as inspired by our music as we are by music in general. It’s about more than just feeling good at a show; it’s about what you take home with you once that show is over, what you keep with you of the music, the part of it that’s yours. Perhaps it’s better to say that we want to leave a lasting impression. If only you could see the innumerable list of songs which provide the soundtrack to our lives. As we say, the playlist is infinite. We’re not trying to preach, and we hope we don’t come off that way, we just want what all artists want - to make our contribution to the vast catalogue of expression that has so enriched our own lives. We want to write a song that lasts, that sticks in your head not just because it’s catchy, but because it’s catchy and it says something. Some of the lyrics on our album These Three Words have been interpreted as having highly religious undertones and subtexts. We received a sterling review on okayplayer.com, for which we are extremely grateful. Our thanks go out to Sidik Fofana for writing the article. The majority of the review was highly positive, constructive, and complimentary. However, the article suggested that we are in essence a Christian Rap act, actually going so far as to say, “Verbal Sideshow’s Bible-Hop style is a weird cross between Creed and Aesop Rock.” To clarify, Verbal was raised Jewish and is non-practicing. Sideshow and Professor P were raised Catholic, but are beyond lapsed. Professor P is an actual professor of Philosophy at Queens College and Hofstra University. If you look closely at the references in their lyrics to God and faith and the sort of theological questioning they do in a song like “Higher Than Me” you can tell that we are like most people these days, agnostic, and soul-searching for a better belief system than any of those that exist today, one whose credo is “believe in yourself.”

Adam Bernard: The Hip-Hop scene is crowded, especially in NYC. How do you feel you stand out?

Sideshow: We stand out because we go beyond the customary approach to Hip-Hop and use all of our musical influences and original ideas in creating a style that spans genres and is uniquely our own. We use Hip-Hop as our foundation. It is the edifice upon which the eclectic blend of Verbal Sideshow is built. Through Hip-Hop we create a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. Our music is innovative yet accessible to a wide variety of audiences. In August of 2007 we won First Place in the Long Island Music Festival, beating out over 100 other bands. Good Times Magazine and New York Newsday said this accomplishment was no small feat since the Long Island music scene is infamous for being a Hard Rock/Metal demographic. We were the first Hip-Hop band to win the festival its twenty year history.

Adam Bernard: You also host an event at the Bowery Poetry Club that features all kinds of artists. Tell me about the idea behind the event and why it works.

Sideshow: The event is called Hear Me Now which is a reference to the first track on These Three Words. That song is about our desire to express ourselves and be acknowledged. In a world where even the term “reality” has come to lose its meaning it’s almost impossible to be real with your art and get any credit for it. There are far too many hyper-talented musicians in NYC alone who should be recognized worldwide but aren’t yet, and that’s the point. We’re trying to show people that the underground is the higher ground and it’s on its way up. It works because people are hungry for something new and every time it happens the room is always packed. Our event, which occurs on the last Saturday every other month, came about as our way of shining the spotlight on all of the artists - poets, singer/songwriters, emcees and bands - that we feel ought to be heard, seen and felt.

Adam Bernard: How have you seen your music change by working with such divergent artists?

Sideshow: The best thing about working with a variety of musical acts is that it keeps us on our A-game. In the past year we’ve shared the stage with artists from all genres of music and all walks of life, we even got the chance to open up for one of our idols, the legendary KRS-ONE. We’ve seen how talented, creative and exciting the various music scenes are across New York and the tri-state area. We know how good our competition is and it keeps us on our toes. It pushes us to keep trying new things. We’re currently recording our second album and we’re anxious to show everyone just how much our sound is evolving.

http://adambernard.blogspot.com/2008/01/artist-of-week-verbal-sideshow.html - Adam Bernard @ Adam's World


Discography

"These Three Words" - Verbal Sideshow's debut LP!
Available on iTunes and CDBaby!

Tracks streaming on MySpace:
myspace.com/verbalsideshow
myspace.com/spreadtheverb

Remixes of "These Three Words" are streaming at:
http://www.myspace.com/kcam

Google "Verbal Sideshow" - there are many sites playing and taking about our music . . .

Search for "Verbal Sideshow" on YouTube, or go to http://youtube.com/pnameck to watch videos of VS live performances, rehearsals, recording sessions, and general goofing off . . .

Photos

Bio

Introducing Verbal, Sideshow, Professor P, K-Cam, Add One, and Slim as the hottest new Hip-Hop and Rock fusion group known as Verbal Sideshow (VS). Taking New York City by storm, this six-piece ensemble represents an eclectic genre that blends Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop and Alternative that's like no other.

Verbal (Ryan, the emcee) and Sideshow (Bryan, the vocalist) have been friends for over 15 years, having met each other for the first time during their sophomore year at the Bronx High School of Science. They attended Binghamton University at the same time and toyed with a few musical ideas, but did not get serious about working together until the summer of 2006. It was at that time that Verbal was approached by a producer named P-Nameck, from the Queens-based company LunchBox Beats, Inc., to write and record a solo album of straight Hip-Hop. Always looking at things with an eye for innovation, Verbal asked Sideshow to lay down some hooks on 2 or 3 tracks. But when the two got together to record for the first time, it was obvious they had something truly unique and electrifying. Their music was insightful, soulful, and just downright fun. They instantly saw the potential for a new musical sound that blended Verbal?fs Hip-Hop influences and Sideshow's Rock and R&B background; a powerful sound that touches your soul and mesmerize your mind. And thus VERBAL SIDESHOW was born.

The two began writing songs in June 2006 and release their debut album: "These Three Words." They enlisted the help of Bryan's identical twin brother Matthew (Professor P, on guitars, strings, who is also an actual professor of Philosophy at Queens College and Hofstra University. ), LunchBox Beats co-producer Keith Campbell (K-Cam, on turntables), and Andrew (Add One, on the bass), a former band mate of Matthew's. The juxtaposition of such diverse musical abilities and styles added remarkable dimensions of subtlety, complexity, and originality to VERBAL SIDESHOW's sound. The album was released in January 2007. The release party opened to an over-capacity crowd of more than 300 people at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. Since then, VS has sold more than 2000 copies of "These Three Words," and have had their songs downloaded hundreds of times from websites including iTunes, Napster, and CD Baby.

VERBAL SIDESHOW recently welcomed its newest member to the group, Slim (Jason, on drums). He brings an extensive background in performing Hip-Hop, Jazz, Funk, Gospel, and R & B and is a tremendous addition to the group.

Verbal, Sideshow, Professor P, and K-Cam were all born and raised in Queens, NY; Bayside, Ridgewood, and Queens Village respectively. Add One was born in Eugene, Oregon, lived for a time in Cyprus where his family is from, then moved to Long Island, NY in his late teens. Slim (Jason) was born in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives on Long Island. Each of their up-bringing has been relatively different, with the exception of Bryan (Sideshow) and Matthew (Professor P), who are twins. This group is a family, but none can attest to that more than Bryan, who recently donated his Kidney to his brother Matthew.

VERBAL SIDESHOW employs a true Hip-Hop ideology in their approach to music. They stand out because they go beyond that customary approach to Hip-Hop, using all of the musical influences and original ideas in creating a style that spans genres, and is uniquely their own. "We use Hip-Hop as our foundation. It is the edifice upon which the eclectic blend of VERBAL SIDESHOW is built. Through Hip-Hop, we create a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. Our music is innovative, yet accessible to a wide variety of audiences."

"We're amazed at how well received we've been this past year since the album came out. People have been listening, and they seem to love what they hear." In August 2007, Verbal Sideshow won first place in the Long Island Music Festival, beating out over 100 other bands. Good Times Magazine and New York Newsday said of Verbal Sideshow, that this accomplishment was no small feat, since the Long Island music scene is infamous for being a Hard Rock/Metal demographic. VS shattered that paradigm by being the first Hip-Hop band to win the festival in its 20-year history. This was made possible by the scores of people - fans, friends, and family - who have been consistently coming out to shows to show their love, shout their support, and Spread the Verb!

VS also host a bi-monthly event in NYC, called "Hear Me Now" - which is a reference to the first track on "These Three Words" with the same title. That song is about their desire to express themselves and be acknowledged. These events, which occur on the last Saturday every other month, came about as the group's way of shining the spotlight on all artists- poets, singer/songwriters, emcees, and bands. In the past year, they've shared the stage with artists from all genres and all walks of life. "We even got the chance t