OG Vern finds comfort on the ‘Verge of Disaster’

The Columbus rapper will celebrate the release of his new EP with a concert at Cafe Bourbon Street on Friday, April 7.
OG Vern
OG VernRich Jones of A6

OG Vern is never sure how and when a song is going to strike, which is how the rapper found himself punching a verse into the Notes app on his phone while driving home from a coffee shop earlier this year.

“Now, you shouldn’t text and drive,” Vern said, “but I had this line in my head...”

That line – “Americano, I started off from the Florin” – served as an anchor point on which Vern built “Flyin from Florin.” The track serves as the first single off of the rapper's new Verge of Disaster EP, out on Bandcamp today (Monday, April 3), which he will celebrate with a release show at Cafe Bourbon Street on Friday, April 7.

Vern said he wrote a chunk of the song in the eight minutes it took him to drive from Florin Coffee to his house, with the rest coming together quickly after he settled into his home studio. This approach – in which the rapper embraced the spontaneity of the creative process – helped inform the more casual nature of his latest, with Vern skillfully relaying the ins-and-outs of his daily existence in a cadence best suited to weekends. 

“I see it as a springtime-cookout-type vibe,” Vern said, a feeling matched by the production of Jay Vega, whose gauzy, loosely stoned beats move lockstep with the rapper’s chilled-out flow.

Indeed, even the title is a bit of a misnomer, referencing not some looming tragedy but rather a rocky situation that now rests comfortably in the past. “It was more about recovering from being down,” Vern said. The songs reflect this reality, at times, with the MC rapping about earlier forks in the road and the past choices that come to shape a person’s present. “Some come to work/Some come to steal,” he raps on “Flying from Florin.” “Which one is you?”

For Vern, the answer arrives elsewhere on the record, on which he raps about being a dedicated father to his daughter (“Root of Evil”), kicking it in the club with his friends (“Banner Talk”), and fueling his coffee addiction (“Flyin from Florin”). 

“This is my world, but it’s for anybody else who can low-key relate to just waking up and wanting to have a good day,” said Vern, who described his approach to the new EP as his more identifiable, budget-friendly take on “lifestyle rap,” hyping cappuccino rather than cars. “Now, in the middle of that day, you might get gloomy, and you might get your heart broken or something. … But you’re still going, you’re still chilling with the homies. And if you can relate to that kind of stuff then, hey, welcome to my world.”

Verge of Disaster is the second collaboration between Vern and Vega, following Northside Slim, from 2022, with the two adopting a similar approach to both projects. “I’ll be making beats, and at the end I’ll be like, ‘That’s a Vern beat,’” said Vega, who typically rounds up a series of these productions and sends them in a pack to the rapper. “And then a lot of the time, he picks the beat I didn’t expect. … I pretty much just put it into his hands, leave it out of mind, and then I see what happens.”

"The way his beats work for me, it’s almost like a soundtrack,” said Vern, who added that the cinematic production helped him to visualize his verses as he wrote, giving the music an almost cinema verite-type feel, with the camera zooming in close and drawing out unexpected dimensions in everyday interactions. “I have a lot of time by myself, and my thoughts will be going and going, where I’ll be thinking about something and letting it turn. It’s just the way my brain works, where I can take a simple scenario – taking care of my daughter, for instance – and [transform] it into a song.”

The rapper has previously relayed the influence his daughter has on his music. “I’m writing more about life experiences, mentioning [my daughter] more in my songs, and really just growing into a person who knows exactly what they want to say, and how they want to say it,” he told me in 2022.

That influence has continued to evolve as she’s grown older and continued to step more confidently into her own.

“She’s to this age where even her voice is different now, and her words are just fuller, where I’m like, ‘What did you just say? Who are you? Who let you into this home saying these things?’” said a laughing Vern, who flashed a similarly advanced vocabulary as a child. 

As a parent, Vern said his approach falls closer to that taken by his father, who extended a bit more freedom than his comparatively rules-driven mother. But he said he also has a more nurturing side inherited from his mom, as well as a developing understanding that most parents are simply doing their best to find a way forward absent the answers we believed as children that they possessed.

“My dad, we connect in a different type of way now where, yeah, he’s my dad, but we’re definitely buds, and we’ll attack a six-pack and tell stories,” said Vern, who then added a detail that could double as a tidy summation of his newest release. “You forget that your dad is just a guy. He’s a person, and he's figuring it out, too.”

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