VersaTilla is a Long Island/NYC MC/Writer/Producer/Engineer from the era of Hip Hop when you couldn’t open your mouth unless you had something to say for REAL. He’s also the Owner of the Label “Divine Rule Records”. Versa built his own studio, “The Dungeon”, which is where all of his creative ideas have come to reality once he took his music to the next level. Versa started out writing music and rapping at the age of 9 and listening to artists like NWA, Ice Cube, Krs One, and Nas who is his my favorite MC of all time and really inspired him on “Live at the Barbeque” with Large Professor in 91′.
Over the years Tilla has worked with artists such as Freck the Billionaire (Streetfam/DesertStorm), Ruste Juxx (Duckdown Records/Bootcamp Clique), White Lotus (Wu Tang Clan) who have been features on some of his tracks. Freck aka “Mr. Bar for Bar” was his first feature back in 09 and did the verse for $200 bucks as a favor. He heard some of my music on myspace and liked it. He blew Tilla away with that one because he didn’t have the money for one of his usual features which he charges an upwards of $1000 for a 16!! Versa still has the Western Union receipt as a souveneir.
Ruste Juxx and White Lotus have shown MAJOR support for the projects that Versa has done with them. Juxx is coming out with a collaboration album called “International Juxx” Volume 2 soon and he wants to put a track that they did called “We Bodied Em” on it, which is in the process of being mastered. White Lotus is in the process of putting a song they did called “Razor In The Wind” on his official bandcamp page because he felt it so much. Plus there’s another surprise for this track that I can’t let out of the bag just yet. Lotus said, “This song is a deep cut to the face that says a lot about structures of rap communities!! Honestly if I think an MC is sharp and his approach is humble we can create classic tones many heads will weave too!! “Razor In The Wind” is breezy!! Versa told us “I’m absolutely HONORED to have worked with these LEGENDS and I have many more features to come!! I promise!”.
Versa has also been on the mixtape called “Straight From The Crate” Volume 1 in 05′ hosted by Pitbull. DJ Gumba. In the meantime Versa has been recording and releasing over 30 solo tracks on soundcloud, audiomack, and youtube. Versa’s brothers from another ViewSound General G1 and Anthony Corleto are his go to engineers and partners who are also a SUPER talented artists responsible for putting their polish on the music he has out. Tilla is also recently featured on 2 FIRE mixtapes, put together by Tha Advocate, called “Spitfire Volume 3″ (Hosted by Ras Kass) & “Digital Dynasty” Volume 42 (Hosted by Jeru the Damaja). These emcees are both LEGENDS to me!!! Tilla told us “Tha Advocate was responsible for putting these mixtapes together and I’m HONORED to have met him via networking on the internet while trying to get my music out there. He’s a really DOPE and TALENTED dude and has put out these Volumes for over 9 years now!!!” Currently Versa is working on touring and his first mixtape called “TillaTape” Volume 1 that is set to be released in the fall of this year. It will also be hosted by a MAJOR mixtape DJ who’s name I’m gonna keep on the low until the time is right. Versatilla is ALWAYS on the grind will continue to be and before we started this interview he said, “thank you mixtapekings.com for this opportunity and stay TUNED!!! PEACE!!!”. We were humbled by the confidence and now it’s time to pick his brain, here we go!”
1. You got a pretty interesting name for your music endeavors. How did you come up with Versatilla?
(laughs) The name VersaTilla derived from my name Rahsaan which means “versatile” in Hebrew. I started off as Versatile but the “Tilla” was thought up because ppl said that I was a lyrical monster so they said I was like Godzilla on the mic. So I took the “la” from Godzilla and removed the “e” from Versatile and I became VersaTilla. I also knew that there were at least 1,000 Versatile’s who rhyme (laughs)! In order to stand out I had to change that. I guarantee that I am the 1 & ONLY VersaTilla!! (I googled it, (laughs).
2. After listening to your music as of late we realized you are the authentic type of NY emcee we used to hear in the Golden Era and early 2k’s. Does it drive you crazy hearing NY sound like Altanta now? Also have you ever thought of spitting on a trap beat?
First off thank you, I take pride in being thought of as an authentic NY emcee from the Golden Era. That’s who I want to be remembered as. Now as far as NY sounding like Atl, I’m definitely disappointed in lack of representation for the “birthplace of Hip Hop” over the years as a whole. By that I mean NY who was once the leader and Mecca with its own “sound” has taken a back seat and become a follower to what is “considered” mainstream today. This goes for the radio stations in NY as well because they really don’t support those who are about lyrics and substance no matter where they’re from. They have the ability to reach many people at once yet they allow some “wrappers” nowadays to bash the “Golden Era” of LEGENDS and get away with it like it’s normal, (shakes head)! Mind you I grew up listening to REAL ATL emcees such as Outkast, Goodie MOB, Killer Mike, Ludacris, Jody Breeze, T.I. etc. who really spit so I take nothing away from them. Yeah I’d spit over a trap beat but I’d make sure all my lyrics would be heard! I’m about bars and substance, NO mumbling (laughs).
3. Tell us more about your label, “Divine Rule Records”. Are you the only artist? Who else is on it? What’s the 5 year plan for the label?
Divine Rule Records is a label founded by me in 97′ as a way to identify and “stamp” my own brand of music. The logo is my version of the “Royal Coat Of Arms” which symbolizes protection from the counterfeits of the music industry. Currently I am the only artist on the label, but I see it as being a focal point because everything has to start from somewhere. The 5 year plan for my label is to branch out as much as possible while looking for new talent. My label is in the process of becoming an LLC as we speak. Then business and retail licenses are going to be my next steps as an independent record label. I also want to eventually go into marketing, advertising, distribution and promotion so I can sell the clothing, music and other Divine Rule merchandise to write them off as taxes that go back into the company. Thankfully I have my own recording/production studio which is a major plus in this industry!!
4. Your song “Sonic Boom” had a real gritty vibe to it with the instrumentation was classic golden era. We know Nas is your favorite emcee and we noticed you like to have that one clear line (with hardly any doubles) like Nas does. Does Nas recording process influence yours? Also are there any plans for a video for “Sonic Boom” bc that record is beyond ridiculous!
Thank you I’m really glad y’all like it!! That’s a super dope track and I gotta shoutout my bro ViewSound General G1 for the mix!! Nas just influences me period. As far as the recording process goes and through experience I don’t double much anymore because I have such a dominating presence with my voice on the first good take. That took some time to figure out but became more clear to me as I used to clip like crazy when I doubled my vocals. I used to hear “I gotta compress the hell outta his verse” (laughs)!! No question and we got many videos coming!! In fact I’m a do a “Sonic Boom” video just for mixtapekings.com!!! I’m absolutely HONORED!!!
5. After listening to you we can tell that substance is a main factor in what you do. With that said how do you feel about the current state of Hip Hop?
Appreciated! Absolutely, because substance is the essence and epitome of what REAL Hip Hop IS! The current state of Hip Hop is still alive as far as I’m concerned but it’s just in a state of emergency because it’s becoming more and more unnoticed unless you know where to search for it. I just miss turning on the radio and listening to NY radio stations play that REAL Hip Hop music. That’s why it feels dead like Nas said. I also miss shows like Yo MTV Raps, Fab 5 Freddy and BET’s the Basement when there were REAL videos and cyphers. I used to RUN home from school to see who was on everyday. We still have Video Music Box thank goodness! That’s what Hip Hop is to me. I know that everything evolves because it must, but there also has to be a BALANCE. That’s the key to what is missing nowadays.
6. You been Emceeing for a while and we know your first mixtape, “TillaTape”, is on the way. What took you so long to drop your debut?
It was setbacks from people I thought were my friends who gave me limited access to their resources and connections in order to stagnate my progress plain and simple. They didn’t wanna see me shine but the two things they couldn’t stop was my dedication and God’s WORK. Once I made the decision to step away from the negative energy completely I was able to fully focus and get up enough money to build my own studio from the ground up!! My bro ViewSound General G1 had finished up audio engineering school and we linked up after some years apart. Then I graduated from a vocational audio engineering program. During that time, I then went on to record over 250 songs in 8 months so there are MANY “TillaTape” Volumes lined up. I already have track lists for 4 of those Volumes, and a collaboration mixtape called “Dungeons & Dragons” on the way!!! Stay TUNED!!
7. What type of records can we expect on “Tilla Tape”, give us a sneak peak of what’s to come?
“TillaTape” Volume One is gonna consist of that REAL NY “Golden Era” Hip Hop! That’s all I know. It’s got 11 songs on it and maybe a hidden track because I wanted it to be simple and to the point. It’s a balance of not too much and just enough at the same time for my first official mixtape project. I got tracks about political issues, bar for bar tracks with straight spitting, some remixes, solo songs, the possible hidden one and oh yeah that track from SFV3 “Five Deadly Venoms” which is lyrical storytelling at its finest. So I feel the listener will definitely be entertained throughout the whole musical journey. It’s also gonna be hosted by a super DOPE Mixtape DJ who’s name I can’t release just yet until the time is right. It’s set to release in the fall of this year!!!
8. Out of all the songs you ever did, which were your favorites and why?
I actually love every song I have done in its own uniqueness because each one is a challenge to complete. When I write the lyrics to a song, I have an idea of how I want the track to sound like in my head. I’m a perfectionist so I don’t stop until I get it to sound just like I envisioned it when I wrote it from the beginning. But I must say “Five Deadly Venoms”, off of SFV3, is one of my favorites because it was a straight 12 hour session to record and edit in my studio. I found the sample clips from the movie and put them where I wanted them to go according to the lyrics of the song. That’s an extremely long time to be in the studio for one Hip Hop song, but it was well worth it as is anything that takes time.
9. We heard you spit on “What You Gonna Do”. That was one of the original Terror Squad’s and Puns best records created. Did you feel any pressure to go over such a classic record and make it yours?
RIP to the LEGENDARY Big Pun one of my favorites! No pressure, but it’s funny y’all said that because I did say to myself at first “how am I gonna come off on this?”(laughs). It was gonna be a remix to Pun’s “Whatcha Gon’ Do?” initially but I decided to spit straight through it and in honor of one of the GREATEST emcees to ever do it, I called it “Whatcha Gon’ Do” Part 2. Shoutout to my super TALENTED homie Anthony Corleto aka Corleto Productions on the DOPE mix of that record!!!
10. With 2016 half way over what else is left on your agenda as an artist to accomplish?
In 2016, I wanna drop the “TillaTape” Volume One especially because that’s my first official solo mixtape project. Then I’m gonna drop the other “TillaTape” Volumes and the “Dungeons & Dragons” mixtape. I’m always working so I also wanna collaborate with as many other DOPE artists as I can. In house production is BIG so I’m in the process of making my own beats and speaking of which I got some serious tracks lined up. Live shows, touring, and shooting these videos is a must and in the works as well. All of the above while getting Divine Rule Records to where I want it to be as a BUSINESS!!!
11. Do a lot of the Hip Hop consumers in the NY support your music being it has that gritty east coast feel sprinkled with a lot of knowledge of self in the mix? It’s kind of sad to ask that but it seems like the people in the North are carbon copies of that Miami/ATL sound and lost their identity for a decade now..
Great question! I don’t get any love in NY for what I do from “so called” friends and family except from a few that truly support the movement. I’m used to it! I could count them all on one hand. On the other hand I do get MAJOR support from the LEGENDS that I look up to like Ruste Juxx (Duckdown Records/Bootcamp Clique), White Lotus (Wu Tang) & Freck the Billionaire (Streetfam/DesertStorm) which is MORE than enough assurance that I’m doing the right thing. They don’t just vouch for ANYBODY they work with!!! NY is now a “Hater” state and that’s the saddest thing about this place, (shakes head). It’s like “crabs in a bucket” here where nobody wants to see you excel, period. Add on what y’all said about the North being “carbon copies” of Miami/Atl, the watered down NY radio stations etc. and we have a LOST generation! Mind y’all I’m still talking about the “birthplace of Hip Hop” I think?!! (laughs). The difference is that I’m a revolutionary emcee from NY that does this for the CAUSE so I wouldn’t change a thing about my approach!! I’m about REAL Hip Hop preservation NOT imitation.
12. We caught you on SFV3 and DD42 (Hosted by Jeru The Damaja). Both songs were crazy dope. You were going in on your track with Ruste Juxx and one line you said that stood out was when you said “A brand new beginning, but this isn’t for the newbies”. How do you feel the Hip Hop listeners have changed, and the public as a whole, when it comes to critical thinking and an almost brain washing made by the media outlets out there. Was that a direct shot at the new Hiphop listeners for accepting this watered down mess?
Thanks for the love y’all, much appreciated. Shoutout to Tha Advocate for the opportunity. That line has a few meanings but was actually a play on similar words (beginning/newbies) which is something I like to do a lot. That’s part of my battle rap influences. I’m glad y’all pay attention because it was also a DIRECT shot at new school Hip Hop listeners who don’t pay attention and have accepted this watered down nonsense. The thing is that I don’t really consider them a part of “Hip Hop”. Because people brought up on REAL Hip Hop like ME who have a true respect for the culture would NOT allow this to happen. As far as critical thinking and the public as a WHOLE, I feel that they don’t think, they FOLLOW. I find that it’s really sad since everyone has their own mind from birth but would rather be influenced by what they are told is hot and “so called” popular, (shakes head). See radio stations and shows are smart in their selective approach to brainwashing the masses nowadays. That’s the reason why they play the SAME shows and songs over and over in order to program ppl’s minds into believing it should be heard!! That’s why some ppl start reciting lyrics to songs they don’t even like and say “why am I singing this?”!!! I’ve seen it first hand, (laughs). It’s a shame but the media outlets are no longer here for the art form just for monetary gain! The funniest thing is that what ppl consider “so called” lyrics nowadays can’t even be audibly understood, (heavy laughs). So where do they go from there?
13. It was cool chopping it up with you bro, in closing let our readers know where to check you out and whatever else you want to let them know. Also thanks for keeping real hip hop alive with the lyrics!
Man I am truly HONORED to be a part of the LEGENDARY mixtapekings.com website & interview process I can’t express that enough!! Coming from where I come from and what I’ve been through to get this far, it means the WORLD to me! Believe that! Readers can check me out at www.soundcloud.com/versatilla, www.audiomack.com/artist/versa-tilla & www.youtube.com, search “VersaTilla” and they’ll find my channel “TillaTV”!! I’m about lyrics and substance so if they’re into THAT they’ll love what they clicked on!!! Check me out ON my homie Tha Advocate presents “Spitfire Volume 3″ hosted by Ras Kass and “Digital Dynasty” 42 hosted by Jeru the Damaja for that REAL Hip Hop and stay tuned for the “TillaTape” Volume One hosted by a MAJOR Mixtape DJ coming SOON! I got songs featured on Ruste Juxx & White Lotus projects coming SOON!! PLUS I got so many more surprises coming it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS!!! Salute to y’all once again and thank you!!! I will ALWAYS continue to keep REAL Hip Hop ALIVE!!! I PROMISE!!! All praise DUE to the MOST high!!! PEACE!!