The Puerto Rico-born, Virgin Islands-raised Verse Simmonds is best known as the crooner behind earnest, early aughts R&B come-ons like “Boo Thang.” In recent years, Simmonds, who now calls Atlanta home, has delved into his Caribbean roots, too, for inspiration, dubbing his fusion of R&B and reggae, “Island B.”
With “Gunstown,” he’s gone a step further, and crafted a certified island banger. Over a bass-heavy, sample-fueled beat reminiscent of Jr Gong’s “Welcome to Jamrock,” he artfully conjures an outlaw Rock City —St. Thomas— full of gunsmoke, “good pussy gyal[s]” and ganja clouds.
Lyrically, “Gunstown” is derivative of any number of Jamaican badman anthems. But Simmonds, a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose credits include Jay Z and Justin Bieber, finesses it into something fresh, spiking his observations with a distinct Virgin Islands twang. It’s a formula worth sticking to, as the song has elicited an enthusiastic response.
Arriving some seven months after the song dropped, the “Gunstown” visuals come courtesy of V.I. directors Jamal Samuel and Dwight Winston. Visually, we see a range of St. Thomases, both scenic and sinister, from seaplanes dipping in the harbor to dimly lit, sweaty smoke sessions in the back of town.
Watch here, and look out for Verse Simmonds’ Rude Boy project, where, we presume, he’ll continue his path back home to the Virgin Islands.