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Unlocked - Click to view! Mike Boyer has always had great vision. Giving strong guest appearances with Grits and Out of Eden in the past, (Knowda) Verbs earned a deal as a Gotee artist in 1999. With two solid releases, the emcee took a long break from the front lines. Why? Because Mike Boyer always strives for the next level. Practicing what he preached, Verbs became the action figure and headed to South Africa on a church plant, delaying the release of his third album for several months. What a surprise for listeners when Unlocked was finally released. The now dreadlocks-free Verbs continues to rhyme with a purpose, taking his sound to the next level.

Boyer's debut, The Syllabus, was a strong record, while the follow-up, The Action Figure, was too experimental for most fans. Unlocked sees Verbs pushing for a mainstream sound while not abandoning originality. "Live To The Music" is a club-type track that has the emcee speaking on the walk of life using the analogy of music. "She's Ms. Sin" describes the dating relationship of man and sin. With enticing vocals from Out of Eden, this track is one of the best on the record. Always the youth group emcee, Verbs drops knowledge on dating with "Love Triangle." While this track may be more sing-song than usual, one section emerges to make this song a winner. "Fellas, kissing those girls that you maybe might like / But if you know she ain't for you then she's somebody else's wife / Ladies, guard your hearts no matter what we say / Keep it locked in a box until God says give it away."

Deeper subjects appear on several tracks, including the Grits assisted "My Neighbourhood." Verbs is at his storytelling best as he lays down three stories of folks caught up in city life and finding redemption. With a unique take on 9/11, "The Before and After" describes the mood of New York on September 10th and 12th. This is one of the best reflections on the tragedy yet. Dirty South tracks "Trippin'" and "Pre-Paid" touch on spreading the gospel message. The former expresses the work of emcees as they travel to different cities to share the word, while the latter speaks on the debt of sin that only Christ can pay.

Unlocked is a fun, nearly flawless record and a triumph for Verbs. The beats, contributed by several producers, give the album a bright and cheery feel without going overboard. With 12 solid tracks (including two fun interludes), fans might complain about lack of material. However, if this high-caliber product continues, there should be nothing to fuss about.
- Jon Corbin
August 2003
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