Subtitle (Part 4)

Place : Le Point Ephémère, Paris, France
Date : April 22nd, 2006

Hip-Hop Core: Do you plan on giving a proper release to some of your older records in the near future ?

Subtitle: Yeah, Net31 Records, which used to be call Beyond Space, they're supposed to release "Lost Love Stays Lost" this year. I did a different version with 20 songs on there. I actually re-did some of the songs. They're gonna do double vinyl and CD of that, I think. I'm contemplating dropping "Greatest Hi$$" and all that kinda stuff later on, but I have grown since then so I'm gonna select what I'm putting out. "Lost Love Stays Lost", I don't mind, because a lot of that was supposed to be on "Young Dangerous Heart" but when I had to go re-record "YDH" according to the label, I got real mad and just put all the stuff aside for "Lost Love Stays Lost" and started calling outside producers for "YDH". I'm definitely gonna re-release Weekend Science Experiment for real, because it deserves to be, and I just got it from you! And then some of the old beat stuff may pop up on vinyls. We'll see what happens… We might even do the Library stuff again because I've been talking to those dudes a lot. As a matter of fact, I think I'm gonna release the Lexicon record on B.E.A.R. because they're not on Spytech anymore.

HHC: Why did you decide to release the "Greatest Hi$$" album in the first place?

S: I had too many cassettes and CD-R's lying around and while I had a section at Amoeba that was pretty big, I couldn't sell 300 CD-R's for every store so I figured it'd be cool to do a kind of compilation… And it's kind of ironic also to do a greatest hits record, like "greatest what?", you know, 17 people know about it! (laughs). To me, that was funny but a lot of people thought that was cool, and some people were just getting into my work around 2003 and they didn't know about any of the stuff before that. Volume 1 was my favorite picks from all my stuff from 1997 to 2003. Part 2 deals with a lot of unreleased stuff that I just did with people and that didn't go on any album.

HHC: Could you tell us a few words about the Th' Corn Gangg project that you have with some members of the Unicorns?

S: That happened because I became friends with the Unicorns, a very very good group out of Montreal, around 2003. When they came out in Los Angeles, they were touring with Beans and they wanted me to open up so I did… And they asked Beans and myself to go on stage with them and freestyle when they're playing. Beans was too busy hooking up with a girl, 'cause that's what he does, but I was ok and it ended up being this real crazy thing. They had sold out the place anyway so that made it look very good. I opened up for them again when they came back to L.A. later on and the same thing happened. They had a couple of tours lined up and they asked me to join them. I had to turn them out because I had problems with my teeth (I still do but they were worse then) but I went to Montreal and ended up playing with them again. That winter of 2004, the Unicorns broke up (one member left the group because he didn't want to do the same kind of music as the two other members) and Nick and Jaime moved to L.A. shortly after… Vic, Busdriver and myself all ended up going on stage, being the dudes freestyling for them. We had like 3 or 4 shows, including one at the natural history museum which was really cool… and it just super-took off.

When Nick and Jaime formed the Islands which is their new group, they had Bus and I get on the album, I went on tour with them and Beck for a few shows (he was in Th' Corn Gangg). So now Th' Corn Gangg has his buzz and it's not just a freestyle thing no more. From what I understand, if the Islands end up getting signed to a major label, their major label (which owns everything) wants to sign Th'Corn Gangg also… but it will probably happen next year. We'll see, but there are a couple live shows that are floating around on the internet and that everybody's been downloading. And there will be a few songs produced by Nick and Jaime on my Alpha Pup record.

HHC: Could you tell us a few words about the 'Raw Deal' track you've done recently with the french producer Debmaster? How did it come to fruition?

S: Deb and Alex from Hipnotik records reached out to me online. The internet's a wonderful thing. It connects everybody with anybody. If the person's good, you get to hang out with him, and if he's bad, you just don't answer the e-mail back. But Deb hit me up and told me who was on his project "Monster Zoo". I was like: "Those are all my friends so I guess that should be good. Go ahead and send me some beats". And when I heard the beats, I said: "Yeah! Let's do it!" And it's been cool ever since then. Actually, we're currently trying to teach him how to talk like a crip.

'Raw Deal' is a real sick song. The concept was originally for the grime thing I was working on with Daedelus but that song did apply for it. When I heard that sick Deb beat, I was on my way out to tour again and I didn't know what to do… But I figured I should use the 'Raw Deal' concept for this. So I wrote the thing to this ill weird song. It was kind of a studio-piece song, made for the lab, but when we started touring together, I thought I should know the song. But it's hard to remember, because it's real intricate and it's not like my typical songs where I'm just talking for two minutes… Existereo and I, we smoke a lot of weed so we couldn't remember all this music since we have no short-term memory. It's already hard to remember 13 songs of my own. But, since Deb is a prolyphic dude and he has a million beats, and since I have faith in my freestyle skills, we just did that and it went down great. The crowd liked it a lot.

HHC: I believe you've also worked with a french dub group Brain Damage…

S: I met them at St Etienne (that's where I met Dalëk also). I originally met this dude Sam Clayton, he's this amazing dub engineer who did stuff with Toots & The Maytals and he wanted me to chat on some stuff so we went to his house next day and I just wrote to one beat he had. I also did some other background random stuff and they ended up using the song that we did for their album "Spoken Dub Manifesto". The artwork for their album is wonderful and the album is very good. Go buy it.

HHC: What about the guys over at Suversiv*Rec with whom you've done a few tracks?

S: I'm cool with these dudes, they're good but they're weird. We don't have like a straight-up relationship, I can't kick it with those dudes or even get copies of the records that I'm on. All the producers, they kill it… But if you guys are reading this, send me some vinyls so I can listen to it and tell you how it sounds.

HHC: You were speaking about the first Project Blowed compilation earlier, and you've taken part in the "Project Blowed 10th Anniversary" compilation, which in my opinion was a far cry from the first one and from the high expectations that people had. What do you think of this record?

S: I'm a very controversial dude, so I'ma tell you what's on my mind. There's a lot of people that should have been on the album that weren't on that album. There were people who might as well not be on the album that were on that album. And there were people that should have been on the album but that were on there too many times. You can do the math. I think Ganjah K should have been on the record. Trensetta should have been on some more stuff. They should have dug Spoon Iodine out of whatever church he's working at and put him on the record. They got a lot of random people I never saw at Blowed before (I guess I had stopped going to Blowed when they popped up)… The young dudes, they're representing and that's tight.

I personally was not happy about the song they put on there. I was thankful to be on the comp but I originally gave 'em a song called 'Attack and Distortion' that was all about Blowed. But they said it was a little bit too long for the album so I said: "Fine, put 'Cray Crazy' on there but just say that you use it courtesy of GSL because they're the ones who put it out first". They were like: "yeah, sure", but they didn't do that. So I was pretty mad, but when I saw the finished version of the album and saw who was on there, I was thankful to have a spot on the album. Because it was really hard to get on the record, even for OG's.

I'm not gonna sit around and say it's all bad and all that sort of stuff, because I wasn't hanging out much, I was putting in the work abroad that Project Blowed needs to be put in. For me, travelling around and spreading the word of Blowed and letting them rock dudes know what's up, that was my number one priority… So I had less say in what was going on in L.A., even if it's good or bad. So I don't think like I have a super-valid opinion because when all these changes were going on internally, I wasn't around.

I love those dudes to death and they gave me my style and everything but at the same time, it definitely evolved into something totally different than it was when it originally started. You can hear the energy of it. For better or for worse, it's a new thing. They have to spray into the future. Hopefully, I can be one of the people of the future of Blowed. I know NoCanDo and the Customer Service cats will be some of those dudes. Acid Reign's still doing their thing… But it's not the same. No one's making the same songs they were doing before anymore and it's also impossible for me, because I don't use a 4-track anymore.

But a lot of those dudes are not even doing it with the same intentions in their mind as before; maybe because they already did it, so why should they do it twice? But I'm like: "Don't fix what's not broke". Unless you're paying a million dollars a day, you're not gonna get on the radio right now! So don't try to make these club songs, because your fan base is not all about the clubs. They've influenced more people that you can mention in or count, on the mainstream and the underground, but they're mad because they're all coppers and shit, struggling and striving just to make five songs and go to sleep at night. So I understand that but I don't think that everything should change now that they have the opportunity to make these records and put them out on a mass-produced audience. I don't think they should tone their sound down or try to have stupid catchy hooks… I just don't agree with that shit. But I say it to myself and I work on my own things. I'm happy if they give me props and if they don't, I kinda don't care 'cause I can't…

HHC: What's the status of the projects you had with Plug Research or the one you had with Mush involving a rock band?

S: The Mush thing is not gonna happen because they can't pay for that but I am still doing a band so that's going down. Every day, I change the name of the band so I can't really say anything about it right now but I guarantee it's a great band. There are people there that are too good to be in a band with me! We're gonna a whole lot of different kind of stuff. As far as Plug Research, that's on indefinite hiatus for ever and a day…

But on a side note, you're gonna find out in the next few months that I'm in a certain position where I'm not gonna be dealing with a lot of the labels I've been dealing with in the past, with the exception of Alpha Pup (because I work with them too close and they're really professionnal)… A lot of people are making their own label at this point because we're kinda fed up, we're making music that people like everywhere we go (we see it every night) but our labels treat us like they're doing us a favor by letting our records come out. Why is it still hard for us to find out whether we can get paid or not? If the money's there, let me see it. If it's not there, let me know. Don't just keep a person in the dark.

LabWaste was a really good record, we're very proud of it, but they told us that they didn't even know how to sell it when it first came out. So I was like: "Ok, you're Busdriver and you don't know how to sell this record?" Then, it's been in all those magazines saying it's such a great record, and you're showing us so much love too… We're thinking something else could happen with the record. So before we sit down and do another album like LabWaste which we'll try to make critically acclaim, we're gonna definitely explore options this time around. The only reason I came out on Temporary Whatever before is because when GSL said they weren't interested in it and told me to re-do "Young Dangerous Heart", I just panicked and went straight to Bus. Because I didn't want to not be able to work with Thav. Thav needed some convincing to do for the album, 'cause he was in Global Phlowtations and those dudes should be millionaires right now… By the way, just so you guys know, Global Phlowtations is gonna probably restructure. But it just took a lot for him to want to get up and be in another group with somebody. So to trust me enough to be in a group with me, for whatever reason, I didn't want to lose that opportunity. I didn't care who put the album out, litterally!

Busdriver had reservations at first because he was gonna put the Shapeshifters album out… But when they signed to Cornerstone, he said: "ok, let's do this!" He did a lot for the album, but at the same time, his album came out like a month and a half later… How much can you really do for an album that you're almost competing against? People actually helped us out greatly, but we're not trying to do the same thing twice. I mean, shit!, the album should have come out on Mush! For all intents and purposes… It says Mush on the fucking barcorde. Why can't they put it out?! I bet you that if they did, it would have been available in more places. We had a million remixes on the record, for free… People thought enough of the album that they want to do stuff with this but it was kind of a slept-on record… The moment that we thought we sold out, the next moment we didn't break a thousand, so I don’t know what to do, you know. So for this next album, we're not going for that kind of situation, we're gonna do better business…

HHC: What's exactly your involvement with the Shapeshifters? We've seen you on their DVD and you seem pretty close to most of them but it seems that you're not really a full-time member…

S: They're family! They're all big brothers of mine. What's going on is that they have nine or ten people in their group and they don't necessarily need eleven. When I was young, I didn't understand that so I was kind bummed out… I didn't realize the dynamics of what's going on: that's been a group that's been around for over 10 years, in many incarnations. We're all definitely doing different musics and we're all going on our individual roads now, but we can still kick it and meet all the time and smoke and drink and have fun and hug each other and cry. When we can meet, we meet. I mean, I shared the most stage time with those dudes before I tried doing solo stuff. I didn't even want money. What the fuck can you do with one-eighth or one-tenth of ten dollars or a dollar? Being with those dudes is just so fun. They helped me to be able to just do whatever I want to do and have faith in doing my shit. They have my backs. I'm on tour with Existereo right now and he's like my brother! So there's no love lost at all. I feel they're family and I love them all to death. And I don't need to wish them the best of luck because they're killing it as it is, so it's cool.

HHC: To end with a classical question, how do you feel about this tour in France?

S: I feel this is the best tour so far, because you get to actually hang out. I've been here every year for the last 3 years and each show gets better and better. Luckily, I started off on a good start with the Mars Volta so that makes up for everything else, then we came back to Nouveau Casino and that blew up… And when we were in Rennes, that was a great show. This time, with Existereo, dDamage, myself and Deb, it's going down every night, it's been off the hook. And the other day, with Dalëk, at the Fondation Cartier, that show was insane… I thought they was gonna pay me in jewelry! So now, I'm just regretful that this french tour is so short. I definitely intend to come back, especially to Angers, because there's this really beautiful girl that I have to go talk to again.

'Till then, be on the lookout for "Trunk Bomb" (it's coming out later on this year). B.E.A.R. Business Espionnage Audio Recordings is the new label. It's got a lot of releases coming out in the real world or imaginary world, which is the internet. All the artists on there or down with us are sick: Nocando, Tes from New York, Crunk Tesla, Cadence Weapon from Canada… Adlib has a record called "2:11". He just went to my room and in twenty minutes he did like a 5-song EP. And obviously, there's also a Subtitle record coming out called "Terrain to Roam", that's the record for Alpha Pup. I got production by Madlib, Paris Zax, Daddy Kev, Thavius Beck, dDamage… It's a ridiculous record.

I got an alias name Grey Fox. It's the only time I ever mention it in the press. I did a really mysterious EP back in the day… Now, Grey Fox is like Quasimoto, he pops up, he'll steal the masters of your album and go and do a version like Lee Scratch Perry. I'm trying to put the Subtitle name to rest… I was gonna retire at first, but this run of shows with Dalëk, with them being so supportive, I feel like I can't retire right now. I'm gonna come back as Giovanni Marks and do different things and maybe the occasional Subtitle thing will pop up, like Adlib for Thavius. But I want to do a lot more stuff, I want to run a label, I want to A&R for another label, I want to produce more stuff (I've been doing a lot of remixes and productions for other people), I want to do other music that's not necessarily hip-hop… I don't want to be known as the rapper that's doing hip-hop music. You want to look at me and see me in a band kind-of-shit. I don't want to be limited by that Subtitle persona. I've had it since I was 14 and it's cool, but I feel like an idiot at 27 when I'm trying to introduce myself to Damo Suzuki from Can like "Hey, what's up man? I'm Subtitle". It doesn't really fit. So I'm more like "I'm Gino". I guess that's what it is: the company I keep, they all use their real names so I feel like I should too.

Interview by Cobalt, Kreme & Billyjack
Introduction by Billyjack
Photos by ArtEos
December 2006

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