Meeting fifteen years ago in Sydney, Australia while attending sound engineering school, MOGz (a.k.a., Marcus Gibson), and VERSA (a.k.a., Raphael Wiedemann) have been making music together ever since. When their first 3-man hip-hop group, Element Crew, disbanded in 2016, Marcus and Raphael refused to let the music die. Thus, MOGz & VERSA was born.
Now, despite the fact that Gibson (composer, singer, rapper, songwriter, musician) currently lives in Sydney Australia, and Wiedemann (rapper, songwriter, arranger, sound engineer) currently lives in Portugal, they still manage to make plenty of music by passing tracks back and forth to each other over the internet, as well as during their once per year get-togethers.
Following up their first effort, 2016’s Vol. 1, is the latest project by this multi-talented, multinational group, the full-length, 13-track, Stay Lit. About which MOGz himself has said… “Stay Lit is all about staying positive through life and flipping the negative. It is a very personal album about our own lives and experiences. A message of heartbreak, love, joy, disappointment, depression, friendship, and everything in-between.”
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Opening with Velo City, M&V show immediately that they’re for real in the music thing with flawless production and sharp MC skills. Overall, it feels very late 90’s.
The funk-infused, Holding On, offers sweet guitar and key loops, and a soulfully cathartic lyrical melody and harmonies. Love the break at the 2:00 mark, that’s the key contrast that takes the whole thing from good—to far better.
Home Again delivers that smooth, soul-laden hip-hop that feels like a cool drive down the 101. Again, the sound is rich, the instrumentation is rounded-out, the vocals are full…this is more than your average hip-hop. (Think: Vokab Kompany.)
Arguably the album’s sound-defining track, Run To, offers that smooth “stay-lit-style” soul with drum & kick, sax & brass, vocal harmonies, and even the right touch of auto-tune. It all works. It’s the album’s lead-off single—and it should be. (Check out the video below.)
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
Dude. Gimme a break. I honestly didn’t expect this. With track 6, Fine Lines, I’m just gonna deliver a spoiler alert… this album just became a 2018 Top 10 Album candidate. A fluid & jazzy melody are joined by a sweet buzz-saw-style synth riff which makes this lay-back-and-reflect cut something special—yet again. On top of that, lyrically, we’re getting more than just another resume track…
“You see I’m caught between this decision of staying or leaving
And torn between all these goddamn angels and demons
Part of the solution or the solution will be it
And fuck all these people all I wanna do is just breathe and
Live, is that just too much to ask
You’ve passed on the favors that I’ve needed in the past
And now I’m trapped under the ceiling bleeding through cracks
And wondering if you can even hear me over the crap…
The shit that you do no that ain’t so clean
There’s fine lines
There’s fine lines…”
Funk-rich! The hook in, Up For Days, reminds me of that 90’s Afro-Plane stuff.
Taking a page out of Bruce Lee’s philosophy, M&V close-out the project with, Like Water, a dreamy, electro-funk beat with a new-age flow…
“Running like the river so relentless we flow, effortless though
Take the form whenever we go
Liquid mastery is in whatever we do
You can hear it in the rhythm and the way that we roll
You can’t push the river you can’t make it flow
Free form movement is so powerful
Moving like water it’s not fast or slow
Feeding the planet and quenching the soul
Like water, like water, like water… …”
Attention to detail. Finely crafted. Fluidly soulful. With plenty of songs to make your chill playlist, MOGz & VERSA’s first full-length album, Stay Lit, is—with absolutely no exaggeration—packed with quality melodies, smooth beats, flushed riffs, cathartic hooks, and superb production. Lyrically clear and concise, the fellas can not only write, but can deliver the words with a confident & casually-veteran flow.
But here’s the rub, strictly musically speaking—whether it’s funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, or electronica—what they’ve created is so damn good—so damn smooth—that even THEY know when to shut-up and let the beat ride alone. That—just in case you’re not aware—is rare; especially in this current, overly-busy music/entertainment culture which is addicted to the use of too damn many words.
In sum, they’ve created something special here; something within which the fans of many other genres will find solace. That’s for the record.
Vokab Kompany meets Carter Ace…
BELOW: Check out our full artist interview with MOGz & VERSA, listen to music from MOGz & VERSA’s album, Stay Lit, connect with their website and social media platforms, and find their booking & contact information. Please support MOGz & VERSA by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
Check out our interview with MOGz & VERSA:
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Watch & listen to music from STAY LIT by MOGz & VERSA:
Booking & contact information for MOGz & VERSA:
Contact: Marcus Gibson
Email: info (at) mogzandversa.com
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