Verse Mega

As hip hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, the genre's multi-cultural reach is also being observed through groups like Code Grey out of Philadelphia.

The sextet formed on New Year's Day this year and, according to Verse Mega, one of its members, "has been actively recording music and building chemistry as a collective".

Verse Mega was born in Falmouth, Trelawny, but has lived in 'Philly' since he was three years old.

While he is in tune with music from Jamaica, hip hop is his biggest musical influence.

"Code Grey is set to represent hip hop's wide range of themes, generations, and musical influences. The concept is balance. Bringing light to a culture that currently reflects a lot of negativity or darkness," noting that he is the "team captain, the voice of reason, the reggae/dancehall flavour and party starter of the squad".

His colleagues in Code Grey are King Miyachi (aka Man of The People) and Ninja Rapper, who have Japanese heritage; rapper/singer Marcus Harmony aka M Harm, DeadPool, and King Marz aka God of War, who are from different areas of Philadelphia.

The City of Brotherly Love has a strong neo-soul/hip hop community with acts like The Roots and Jill Scott. During the 1970s, Philadelphia International Records made it a focal point for Rhythm And Blues.

While they are from diverse backgrounds, Verse Mega told the Jamaica Observer that Code Grey shares similar goals.

"Hip-hop is the common denominator. Each member is rooted in straightforward rap but brings their own distinct style and culture to the table. The goals are to be mentioned amongst the greatest rap groups of all time and to launch successful solo projects and subgroups from the camp in the process," he said.

As he works on material for Code Grey, Verse Mega is preparing to release his solo EP by October. It is produced by session drummer Bennett.

HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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