Album Preview: Verse Simmonds – ‘Stories of a Bachelor’

Cyndi Lauper proclaimed in the ’80s that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” but singer-songwriter Verse Simmonds is set to affirm that guys just wanna get it in and go hard 360 degrees—with their gear, their rides, and, most importantly, their women. The newest addition to the Darkchild/Interscope Records family invited various media types to a private listening session, held at Legacy Studios in New York City. While journalists and bloggers sipped on Nuvo and Patrón, Verse explained the adventures of his single life, which he documented on his debut album, Stories of a Bachelor.

Admittedly, at first listen, it may be easy to write him off as a cookie-cutter version of a rapper-turned-singer. The material on the album does show that Simmonds has drawn inspiration from his counterparts, but the St. Thomas import attempts to set himself apart from the pack by incorporating his roots, riddims, and rhymes into a blend of music which he dubs “Island B.” What the Stories are lacking is the fact that they contain an unbalanced number of club joints, while never showcasing the full range of Simmonds’ voice. However, just as the fast life of a bachelor can take many twists and turns at any given time, apparently so can this album. Simmonds revealed that not all the previewed tracks would make the album’s final cut.

Check out the many highs (“Buy You a Round,” “Come to Me”) and lows (“I’m Sorry”) of the bachelor’s life, verse by Verse.

1. “Substitute”

The first of many Stories told on this album is a smooth yet synth-heavy, mid-tempo track which should serve as a message to ladies everywhere in need of that certain, special attention she isn’t getting at home: Verse Simmonds will give it to you. Simmonds boldly croons that, “I’m the substitute lover/ If he don’t treat her right/ I’ll treat her better.” Neglectful boyfriends, watch your back!

2. “Swindle”

This particular track speaks to the male listeners, but to be fair, can be commiserated by females as well. The humorously-titled, uptempo song literally starts off quickly but figuratively comes to a crashing halt, as it is a depiction of what happens when you’ve left the club and arrived at someone’s house for a drunken booty call, only to find yourself looking in that person’s face and asking in disbelief, “What you mean you ain’t down with the get-down?” Quite the frustrating situation, mentally and physically.

3. “Grinding”

While still heavy on the bass, Verse slows his Story down to a mid-tempo groove to croon about enjoying his time whining up on a lady while dancing in the club. Not a standout, but it possibly led to inspire one of the many other tracks on the album.

4. “Birthday”

Forget Jeremih’s ode to getting freaky with your lady on her born day. Starting off with a unique reggae-tinged sound, Simmonds’ tune quickly morphs into a club anthem that’s sure to rock 365 days a year. Utilizing the refrain popularized by rapper 50 Cent, (“Go shorty, it’s your birthday”), as well as giving shout-outs to all of the Zodiac signs, Verse’s joint is dedicated to watching women “go hard” with their birthday celebrations all year round.

5. “Money in My Pocket”

Of course the key to being a successful bachelor is either covertly (or inadvertently) letting your status be known. This track takes the more obvious, yet not very noteworthy approach in doing so. While a high-energy base and a reggae riddim are cleverly blended to compliment Simmonds’ ability to seamlessly weave between singing and chanting, the song’s lyrics could’ve easily been borrowed from any other song on rotation at a strip club (“Don’t know if she like girls, but I’m hoping”). If this song were a dude, he wouldn’t be that different from the two next to him also trying to impress females by flashing wads of cash.

6. “Priceless”

The Story takes a break from the player’s prowl as this track finds Simmonds singing the praises of a real woman worth settling down with. Though the woman in question may be invaluable, this song falls short of its unattainable title: the lyrics and Simmonds’ voice sound familiar to Akon’s “Don’t Matter.”

7. “I’m Sorry”

This mid-tempo song reveals where someone can find themselves after they’ve played one too many games with another person’s mind and heart: waking up alone, pondering what went wrong, and wishing they could regain what they lost. “I’m Sorry” serves as a verbal apology, the back-up plan requisite to any bachelor’s modus operandi.

8. “Come to Me”

While previewing this song for his audience, Simmonds was met with a look of disbelief when he announced that he was unsure if this track would make the album’s final cut. Who knew that a booming synth and bass mixed with a sample of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” topped with Simmonds’ accent-tinged singing would work as the perfect seduction track? Arguably the best song that may never make it to the album, “Come to Me” has the right amount of naughtiness yet leaves plenty of room to visualize where the night could lead: “Turn the lights down low, let the music flow/ We can sip a little Mo’ and let the good times roll.” Not a bad prelude to sexual healing. (Bonus: The remix features the late, great Notorious B.I.G.’s first verse from “F*** You Tonight.”)

9. “Island Love”

If the preceding song didn’t hint toward a certain point, then this track attempts to drive it home: there’s a reason why Stella got her groove back in Jamaica. The album’s most heavily reggae-influenced track, “Island Love” highlights all of the benefits of dating a guy from the islands. Not very convincing.

10. “Boomerang”

Of course, no bachelor’s story is complete without discussing the boomerang that’s highlighted with a star next to her name in his BlackBerry. Simply put in a lyric? “Girl, you look so good, I had to do you twice.” Straight and to the point, Simmonds chants over a lighter, more pop-inspired background to describe that chick that keeps him coming back for seconds. Your ears may not have the same voracious appetite for this one.

11. “Absurd”

Taking hints from both Europe and India’s musical influences, this joint invokes a feeling of partying at a London discothèque. The song features an East Indian-accented singer on the chorus, as well as a background slightly reminiscent of the very popular (and overused) “A Milli” sample. Simmonds may not get any play with the song in this country, but its whimsicalness may serve it well on a different continent.

12. “Buy You a Round (Up and Down)”

The album wraps up with the currently touted first single that’s sure to be a bonafide hit. The ladies will bounce to it and the fellas will use it as their personal anthems to help elevate their game. The bachelor mixes up singing, chanting, and rhyming over a minimal, thumping bass as he searches for a target, ahem, single lady, so that he may buy drinks for her and her friends.

–Crystal “Crys Breezy” Williams