Verbal Kent “Story To Tell” (XXL Magazine, 2007)

(Click photo to enlarge. Read below.)

Another Chi-Town MC Spits Through The Wire.

In rap, close encounters with death are often used as ammunition (pardon the pun) to build credibility. But Chicago lyricist Dan “Verbal Kent” Weiss approaches his near-fatal attack differently, preferring witty battle raps over hardcore posturing.

“It’s not really a dark experience anymore,” says the 28-year-old, who sports a scar from his Adam’s apple to his left ear from getting his throat slit. “Now, it’s just part of my story.”

A native of North Chicago’s Rogers Park, Weiss started rhyming in 1998 under the moniker Verbal Kent. Before his attack, the aspiring MC had begun performing at local hip-hop shows while recording his 2004 independent debut, What Box. But tragedy struck before he release his debut LP. On the evening of June 22, 2003, Kent claims an “associate” led him to a desolate location and tried to take his life. “[He] told me he had a sound engineer who was interested in [recording] with me,” says Kent. “He directed me to this alley. I walk in about 10 steps. He grabs me from behind, puts me in a headlock [and] slits my throat.”

After wrestling himself away, Kent says he ran to his car and drove himself to a hospital, holding his shirt over the wound to control the bleeding. Kent’s attacker, whose motive is still unknown, fled the scene and was never caught or prosecuted. “I remember thinking, in the five minutes it took to get [to the hospital], that I was going to die,” says Kent. “Blood was pouring everywhere.” Fortunately, his neck was slashed a centimeter away from a major vein, though he received roughly 100 stitches.

While the injury didn’t affect Kent’s speech, the ensuing emotional shock kept him in the house for a month. Rhyming helped him recuperate. “I wrote as much as possible [and] used that as my therapist,” says Kent, who spent eight months recording his sophomore LP, Move With The Walls. Released this past October, the album recounts the trauma he experienced after the attack.

Kent has since toured with over 40 artists, including KRS-One and GZA, and his next project, Eat Them, is due in March Verbal admits his recovery was difficult, yet he chooses not to dwell on the tragedy. “I definitely don’t walk around like a victim,” he says. “The world is very crazy [and] fucked up, but there’s also a lot [of] beauty.”

And that’s more than skin-deep. — William E. Ketchum III