There are some people on Earth who make impact far beyond their own lives and immediate circles. Often these people aren’t celebrities or well known to mainstream audiences, but work tirelessly behind the scenes of a field or sphere, building its infrastructure and foundation, not for rewards and often without thanks. For independent Hip Hop, Vice Verses was undoubtedly one of those people. A founder of End of the Weak, Vice co-created what is now being recognised globally as the greatest test of an emcees skill, the EOW MC Challenge. Much has been written and said in IAHH and many other places about EOW over 22 years of global World Championships and becoming the world’s longest running weekly open mic. This speaks volumes about the people who started and run it; that it is the platform not the people that are so often spoken about. So much of their lives, time and energy has gone into creating space and opportunities for others, often promoting their champions and community over their own works.
It is also the case that when we lose such people, the size and scale of the hole they leave reveals just how immense their works are. This is what the global Hip Hop community Vice cultivated experienced when our brother transitioned in 2020. Publications as big as the New York Post paid tribute; legends from the New York Hip Hop community poured in stories of his selflessness, hilarity and talent; murals were painted not only in his hood but across the world. And now, thanks to the unwavering spirit of his family and closest friends, we have his final album ‘The Crown’. So, this time, this article is not about EOW and all it’s done; it’s about appreciating the skills, lyricism and craft of a global underground Hip Hop icon, the infinite Vice Verses.
The fam at IDEA FACTORY and EOW, Vice’s platforms that have released the album describe it like so:
“The Crown encapsulates Vice’s trademarks: lyrical, dark, haunting, melancholy, light-hearted, clever, and honest. It is all of those things, and more. The album personifies the unique way Vice connected with family, friends, fellow artists, kids … with people. While Vice conceptualized the songs, he never heard them in their finished forms, never heard the features or some of the beats at all. Yet, the songs are completely Vice. Not a tribute or a remembrance of but an embodiment of Jason “Vice Verses” Williams’ special soul and the way he made you feel if you were lucky enough to know him.”
As one of those lucky individuals, I completely agree. Vice is a unique character, who saw the world from a perspective many others couldn’t, and could create out of the spaces this vision gave him. This manifests in his wordplay; he excels in striking a balance between having his own, abstract flow and style while striving to capture all the elements expected from the craft. On ‘Have You Ever’ Vice says “I’m the best ever, at putting words together”; I’ve watched him spend hours freestyling, programming incredible, intricate schemes, based on a blend of words’ meaning, rhyme, length and syllables, and on ‘The Crown’ this skill is projected into structured tracks. There’s so many entendres, giving each verse layers of meaning that different people will interpret in their own ways. This has been strengthened and deepened by the producers and collaborators. The way his fam have taken Vice’s unfinished tracks, acapellas and ideas and built verses, hooks, vibes and concepts around them is impeccable. Once you add the level of emotion provoked in processing their feelings about his transition, the love within the labour is tangible. This shines through not only in the music, but in the beautiful, powerful visuals that accompany the album.
To do this and still keep the album entertaining, with dope variety of vibes and feels is no small feat. Some are raw spitting like ‘Intro / Vice Vincent’, some are forged with emotion like ‘Wandering Why (Chasing my Dreams)’, some are built around a concept like ‘Genius Thoughts’ or the light hearted and funny ‘Willy Wonka’, while others are driven mostly by feeling over lyrics like ‘Darkness’. There’s so many facets of Vice’s personality captured on ‘The Crown’ that if you knew him, you’ll see him instantly, and if you didn’t, it’s the perfect way to get to know who he is and what he lived for. Of course I’m biased, I know and own that; this is a beautiful artefact given to and by Vice’s fam for us to have a another heartfelt conversation with our brother. With that acknowledged, I fully recommend you go have one too, and learn about how this truly independent creative trailblazer lived.
‘The Crown’ is a labor of Love. Executive produced by Vice Verses, his best friend Big Ox aka Omar Pickering, and his partner, the Queen of EOW Kendra Goldhirsch, with the support of Danyle Williams, James Calhoun, and Patrick Hanos.
- Intro/ Vice Vincent — Produced By Agallah
- Broken Heart — Produced by Jess Jamez Music
- Count On Me feat. Big OX, ProlificWone, Slaine — Produced By Zia Leonard (Idea Factory)
- Have You Ever feat Big OX — Produced By Mas Law
- Genius Thoughts feat. Agallah Da Don, Big Ox — Produced By Agallah
- Time To Go feat. Dinco D, Big Ox, Shorty Red — Produced By Dax Carson
- Wandering Why (Chasing My Dream) feat. Shabaam Sahdeeq, Big Zoo — Produced By DJ Rob Flow
- Willie Wonka feat. Big Ox, Rob Flow — Produced by Rob Flow
- Darkness feat. Breeze EvaFlowin — Produced By Dax Carson
Follow Vice Verses and EOW on the following platforms. There is loads of Vice Verses and EOW merchandise, including clothing and prints that go to support the Vice Verses Foundation, which carries on Vice’s legacy, supporting yet another generation of artists.
IG: @vicevvs @viceversesforever @verses_project @eodub —
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