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Meaning of ‘Vertino’ by ‘Conway the Machine’ feat. Joey Bada$$

Released: 2024

Features: Joey Bada$$

“Vertino,” from Conway the Machine featuring Joey Bada$$ is a deep dive into the harsh realities of the streets, revealing unflinching truths about criminal life and the pursuit of survival. The song uses gritty metaphors and vivid storytelling to express the artists’ experiences in drug dealing, and their ascent from the underworld to the rap game.

Conway begins the song with a brazen declaration – yes, life is good, but it’s the harsh street life that made him who he is today. He speaks to surviving a gunshot that “penetrated my shoulder,” an event that didn’t deter him but instead made his heart “colder.” Metaphors such as “cold as Minnesota in October” emphasizes the harshness of his past life. His mention of “Yola in the pot swole up” is a reference to the act of cooking cocaine, or “Yola,” a street term for the drug. Comparing a gunshot wound to draining a fluid or referencing himself as a “big dawg” and Coach Kerr, implies his dominance and control over his circumstances.

His lyrics, “I got warriors on my bench, Chris Paul,” pokes at the NBA, but also explains his team’s readiness to jump into action, just like any good strategist would. When he says, “went from buying 62 grams to going pride shopping,” this signifies his elevation from dealing drugs to a level where he can afford luxuries, exemplifying his rise from the streets to success. “My shooter on tour with me, he just was on Crime Stoppers” suggests that he still carries the influences of his old life as he navigates his fame, hinting at the blurred line between his past and the present.

Joey Bada$$’ verse carries on this narrative of rise from rags-to-riches. He speaks about his style being “minimalistic, plain Jane simplistic” highlighting his humble roots. His verses “Falling off ain’t too realistic, niggas telling tales Could sell you news stories but this crack still sells” reiterate that for many growing up in similar environments, selling drugs is an inescapable part of life–much like his own past that has followed him into his journey as an artist. Joey also references Biggie’s “Ten Crack Commandments” emphasizing the unwritten rules of the street that have shaped his worldview and work ethic.

The repeated phrase “Fiends know it’s pure, so they keep coming for more” could be a double entendre, referring both to the purity of the drugs they sold, attracting the addicts, and to the unfiltered, raw authenticity of their music attracting their fans. In this song, Conway the Machine and Joey Bada$$ weave an intricate narrative of their come up, providing their listeners with a raw, unsanitized look at their journey from life on the streets to being established and respected figures in the hip-hop community.

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