Artist: Antoine Beard, aka Verbal Murda
When did you get involved in music? I would say about 12 or 13 years ago. I was in a group with some of my friends called Caso. We performed at Penn Park. We had our own style. We never needed people to tell us we were good. When I graduated from (William Penn Senior High School) in 1998, we all started to do our own thing.
Where did the name come from? A while back, my friends called me 14 because I was into knowledge and the Bible. They said I was like the 14th disciple. A lot of people ask me about my name now. They say, "You're name is Murda, did you kill anyone?" (My cousin) Tyree Beard gave me that name around 2000. People sometimes don't understand the slang. It's a different way to use the word "murder." Like, you would say Kobe Bryant murdered them and that would mean he won at basketball. It's not supposed to promote violence.
Who were your musical influences? My friends were my main influences growing up. My friend Isym (Earl W. Smith Jr.) had good ideas. He was very creative. My cousin Tyree, who passed away, was (another influence). He used to listen to me, . . . and he always let you know the truth. (I also liked) Nas. He's the only person on the radio I would listen to. I liked that he had concept songs. We were both raised in the hood. He showed me that's not all you have to rap about. He (showed me) you can put a positive spin on things.
What sets you apart from the other emcees out there? I'm able to get young people to listen. I can get adults to Car") on my new CD. I talk about how everybody wants to live a fast life in a fast car and that you need to slow down. You can go the speed limit and still get noticed.
Do you play a lot in the area? Club NV is the biggest place in York where (hip-hop) shows are held. I've performed in New York, Harrisburg and Lancaster. I've opened for people like D-Block, Jay-Z . . . and Juelz Santana. I opened for KRS-One at a Reading show. I pretty much just got to meet them for a minute and shake their hands and tell them that they inspired me.
What are your thoughts on the York music scene? A lot of people I rap with around here are up and coming. There are a lot of people that are unsigned and unheard. There is talent that people overlook. I've collaborated with Phene, Kamaflaj and . . . Chantz Kacey. (Kacey) rapped on my song "Baby Girl," which is about my (daughter).
Talk about your new album. This is my second solo album. I made four mixtapes before that. The new album should be out in about three months. We're not sure of the exact date yet. It will be available at Da Underground and Xclusive Music. The video (for the single "Yo-Yo") will come out first. We have a street team that will be promoting as well.
What is coming up for you in the future? I want to continue to go further and be able to feed my family with that. I work at Maple Donuts right now and when I'm not I'm in the recording studio. These days, you have to have more than good music. You have to be marketable. If I'm not able to make it myself, I would want to ghostwrite for other people.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF