As hip-hop continues to evolve and branch out into multiple sub-genres, a few emcees move through and beyond classification and defy definition. Subtitle is an emcee who may be labeled as trip-hop, backpack hip-hop, space-hop, or just plain weird. The true classification of Subtitle is that he cannot be classified under just one form. As an emcee and a producer, his music encompasses strange sounds, themes, and lyrics. Amidst the bizarreness, listeners can still connect with the rhythms and sentiments. He is odd enough to satisfy lovers of peculiarity but also universal enough to still touch a tiny portion of the mainstream.
Although he is a true eccentric, he is also a member of Project Blowed, Weekend Science Project, and Shape-shifters. Hailing from California, Subtitle started out by releasing his music on simple, homemade CDs and cassettes with hand-made cover art. As a producer, his choices of samples are also extremely unique. What other producer samples Sonic Youth?
In 2003, Subtitle signed to GSL (Gold Standard Labs) and released the “I’m Always Recovering From Tomorrow” EP. Along with Adlib (aka Thavius Beck), Subtitle found a musical partner and created the Labwaste project. Subtitle returns in 2005 with his full-length LP titled “Young Dangerous Heart”. While mainly produced by Subtitle, the LP also has production by Omid, Thavius Beck, Life Rexall, Alias, Headphone Science, Cockamamie, and Old Joseph. Out of the 17 tracks, only 2 have guests. The song “Crew Cut (For Sale)” has 12 other emcees rocking verses over Subtitle’s beat. The song features 2Mex, LMNO, PSC, Lucky I Am, Murs, and many other respected emcees from the West Coast hip-hop underground.
Some songs on the “Young Dangerous Heart” LP have a set theme which people can quickly understand, while other songs are just simply so strange that repeated listens are essential. For any hip-hop fan who loves eccentric emcees and inimitable production, Subtitle’s LP is fundamental addition for their record collection.
Subtitle recently produced “Interruption From The Lie Love You” from the “Over The Counter Culture” LP by SonGodSuns. Grounded and comfortable with his unconventional self, Subtitle can also relate to conventional emcees like Murs and Aceyalone. At the heart of his music, eccentricity prevails As long as the microphone is turned on and the rhythm of hip-hop is thumping, Subtitle’s young, dangerous heart will continue to beat.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Subtitle: Nothing, so far. I'm currently on tour in Switzerland for my new record. Switzerland is off the hook, by the way.
MVRemix: Your solo album, ‘Young Dangerous Heart’ was just released on GSL Records. Tell us about the LP. Who are the guests? Who produced the songs?
Subtitle: Lots of people on both accounts. It's pretty much a general who's who of West Coast hip-hop in the last five years. I produced 5 songs and everyone from Alias to Aceyalone is on the record. All except Oxnard. I'm sorry Ventura County. Next time, for sure!
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title ‘Young Dangerous Heart’?
Subtitle: As the ‘Intro’ says, I have a bad heart and it's a wild time. The world is dangerous, but there you go.
MVRemix: Why and how did you hook up with Gold Standard Laboratories?
Subtitle: It was through Chris Hathwell from The Moving Units. He introduced me to Sonny Kay thru a remix I did for Sonny's old group, Subpoena The Past. He liked it and we kept in touch. I would give him music to check out for whatever, and when he and Omar were ready, they dropped an EP to test it. It was hard waters for a second, but it's smooth sailing now.
MVRemix: You are a hip-hop artist on GSL, which is mainly a rock label. How do you feel about this? What are the advantages or disadvantages?
Subtitle: I am a fan of most of the GSL catalog, first and foremost. I could have ended up on a rap label, but I chose to roll with GSL because I wanted to add to the legacy that The VSS, GOGoGo, Airheart, and The Locust started. It was hard at first because there was no rap in any circuit that I operated in. After a while, I carved out a niche for myself. The only disadvantage would be people not listening to my music because it's on a rock label, but those aren't my true supporters anyway.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Subtitle: ‘Serial Boxes’ since it's the first completed song for the album.
MVRemix: What song took you the longest to complete? Why? What song took the shortest? Why?
Subtitle: ‘Crew Cut’ took the longest because I had to organize everyone bit by bit. People are mad at me over that song due to the line up (f**king Nick!) The shortest was ‘Springtime in Rufferdam’ since it was a freestyle over a dormant beat.
MVRemix: Describe what it was like where you grew up?
Subtitle: I was wild as hell. I was a weirdo at an early age, so I stuck out. My family was pretty crazy, so that made matters worse. When I moved to Camarillo, that was a culture shock for sure. Oxnard was like a mini L.A. but that didn't change things. It made for a better rhyming environment thru adversity though. Lots of dope emcees in the 805. Some of them are coming up now like MED, Oh-No, Roc C and Premonition. I'm moving out of L.A. soon enough though.
MVRemix: When making hip-hop songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics, and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?
Subtitle: I have my own studio set-up so it usually depends on how I feel. Normally, I'll write to the beat on the spot or after the fact. When I'm at someone else's spot, I'll come prepared in order not to waste time or whatever.
MVRemix: You do a majority of the production too. Was this intentional?
Subtitle: Yes, but not at first. I was always into the equipment side, but when I couldn't find anyone to make the beats in my head, I stepped up. After I met Thavius, also known as Adlib, I was ready to quit. He kept me hype.
MVRemix: Do you have a specific creative process when you produce a track? If so, what is it?
Subtitle: None whatsoever. I leave it up to chance, influence, or intentional error.
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"I was wild as hell. I was a weirdo at an early age, so I stuck out. My family was pretty crazy, so that made matters worse. When I moved to Camarillo, that was a culture shock for sure. Oxnard was like..."