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Verbal Kent

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A native of North Chicago's Rogers Park, Verbal Kent began his career in the winter of 1998 when he set out to find a group of musicians who were interested in being involved in a live hip-hop band. What resulted was the Organic Mind Unit, a five-piece live hip-hop band, comprised of Kent and Lance Ambu as well as a rhythm section of Shaye Robeson (bass), William Kirk (keys), and Anthony Reid (drums), who combined the sensibilities of a jazz combo with varying musical styles and the essential sounds at the core of contemporary hip-hop. By late 1999, the group released its self-titled debut, Organic Mind Unit, followed by The Unusual Suspects in 2001. Over the next few years, Kent lent his guest verses to several projects, including Rusty Chains' "Battle Scars to Prove It," LongShot's "Civil War, Pt. 2," and DJ Anomaly's "Mountains Rise." In 2004, Verbal Kent released his debut album, What Box, on Gravel Records, a 16-track LP with guest appearances from underground artists such as Wordsworth, One Be Lo, Qwazaar, and Iomos Marad. Instead of including backing by a live band, What Box featured more traditional hip-hop production. While his debut was receiving considerable buzz on the underground hip-hop scene, Kent survived an attempt on his life when his throat was slashed in an alley near his home. He used the near-death experience as motivation for his sophomore album, Move with the Walls, a rugged and deeply personal album -- featuring production help from Oddisee, Overflo, Earmint, and others -- that Kent used as catharsis. Since the release of his debut, Kent has toured nationally with renowned acts such as Sadat X, Count Bass D, and Edo.G., as well as having shared the stage with KRS-One, De La Soul, the Pharcyde, and the GZA. ~ Vincent Thomas

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Chicago, IL

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