If you are anything like me, then at some point in your life, probably after watching Eminem’s final battle scene in “8 Mile,” you’ve thought to yourself, “Dang, I wish I could rap.”
Jerry Spatch, a 20-year-old Northeastern University student, thinks you can. And he wants to help you do it with his new game, Vers.
The premise is simple: Each player gets one “base” card, which has three words listed on it that rhyme. “Mean,” “teen,” and “thirteen,” for example. Then, the player gets a “category” card with a simple word or concept on it, like “chicken” or “locket.”
From there, it’s up to the player to make a short freestyle using the category card for inspiration and the words on the base cards as the rhymes. The best freestyle wins the round. “It’s basically a template for rapping,” Spatch explained.
Spatch dabbles in rap himself, and came up with the idea after rhyming over beats at parties.
“Afterwards, people would come up and say, ‘That was so amazing, how do you get your mind to work that fast?’” he said. “That got me thinking, if I give people the pieces to freestyle, and make it easy for them, it might be kind of cool and would probably a fun time.
“It would show them how to work the words together, and give them a skill they didn’t know they had.”
Spatch whipped up a prototype and pitched the idea at a Northeastern start-up competition last April. He won, and Vers was born.
Spatch says that the game is appropriate for all ages and demographics, and he can back that claim up with field tests. He carries at least one set of cards on him at all times, and whips it out to play if anyone he meets shows interest.
“I’ve gotten people from China to rap with me, people from India, people from every part of the world,” he said. “It’s made a good sample.”
He’s also used it with with participants of all ages. One elementary school student rapped about his bike, and a 43-year-old test subject came up with these lines, according to Spatch’s website: “I met a mermaid and she’s not fake/ and she’s the reason that I am awake/ there are always fresh cookies that me and her make.”
Spatch came up with the game just so people could enjoy themselves in a silly but lyrical way. But he also hopes that Vers can open up their minds to rap as a music genre.
“Rap has been getting more diverse nowadays, but I think it’s still considered kind of particular,” he said. “It really shouldn’t be that way. It’s an expressive form that lets people talk about whatever they want. You can rap about anything in your life.”
So far, Spatch hasn’t tried to make any sort of profit from Vers, and even offers to send a free set to anyone who signs up with their email on his website. But he’s planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday, April 19, that he hopes will give him the funding to keep production going.
“The game could go far,” he said. “I want to get it to as many people as possible.”
Alex Frandsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.