A chronicle of his struggle with Crohn’s disease which had him hospital for a spell in late 2011, the generous nine tracks of Verb T’s latest EP Medicated Dreams on his High Focus Records home plays with all the gravitas of an album, using the shorter format in order to focus on a very specific time in his life rather than simply as a short collection of tracks. In fact, the heartfelt emotion and honest drama of the conflicting emotions, insomnia and even madness caused by the medication, worry and simple boredom of the bed bound lends the release an epic and moving feel at times, something that’s perhaps sometimes been lacking amidst Verb’s uncanny ability to find the humour in situations when given a beat for perspective. It’s not to say that wry smile isn’t still lurking, particularly among the switching beat of Medicate and the toying juxtaposition of happy style and downbeat lyrics of Breathe, but by and large Medicated Dreams focuses on the more introspective, gloomy side of a medical struggle made even harder and more eventful by the array of medication that influences it’s prose.
Along the way, his own thumping beats and their playful switches of pace and pattern create a choppy seascape for his floating flows. From the tense bells of The Tunnel, an opening track that truly pulls you into the release with an arresting arm to your ear, to the contrast of mellow melodies and occasional up beat shakers on Powdered Dreams, it’s another rock solid statement towards the quality of his beats, but even more so simply how well they work with his own vocal style as he carefully crafts a sound that’s one hundred percent his own. However, that’s not to say they don’t also bring the best out of the one feature MC he brings to the release; London’s More One (check his recent LP with Denziller here for more). Taking on the sinister hums and tough break of Dreaming of a Life, surrounded by Verb T’s punching chorus, he reps particularly strongly on this one for a feature that should have his name on a lot more lips. Expect to see more of these two together in the near future.
Another gem amongst Verb T’s already vast discography, the personal nature and regularity of his releases makes it hard not to feel involved in their events if you’ve been following his career, something that makes this one particularly hard hitting despite it’s somehow more light hearted middle section. Thankfully, the final track Reprogram sees him come out on the other side of the illness in high spirits, a relievingly chirpy full stop on a release that encourages you to truly slip into his mindset as he travels through the ups and downs of a journey that, while hard to relate too to your average listener, is made effortlessly easy to sympathise with. One of the UK’s stalwarts, his ability to make such personal, cathartic subjects so interesting to the outside listener is embedded both in his naturally descriptive lyricism and smooth, effortlessly listenable vocal style throughout. Go pick it up directly from the High Focus website.