WRCU Review: Hip-Hop Review

Aaron Shier

Terrain To Roam is the second full-length release from Giovanni Marks (aka Subtitle), and as was the case with his debut Young Dangerous Heart, some may find his variety of Hip-Hop unapproachable. Superficially, Subtitle’s style undoubtedly smacks of esoteric, hermetic ‘nerd rap’ – eccentric for the sake of being eccentric. The album is a demanding listening experience – perhaps it’s the LA emcee’s preference for surrealist imagery, the mechanical, sonically dense production work he chooses to rap over or his unconventional, nasally monotone voice and chorus-free flows.

Yet Subtitle unexpectedly transforms into the Franklin D. Roosevelt of Hip-Hop, engaging the listener in a genial, laid-back conversational manner. His opaque glitch-hop babble is juxtaposed with multiple fire-side chats, which crop up during the final thirty seconds or so on a number of tracks.

Subtitle is trying to advance a new Hip-Hop sound. He incorporatesome fairly atypical musical productions, which he outsourced to Hip-Hop producers of a pioneering ilk. These include Madlib, Daedelus, Paris Zax, Daddy Kev, Thavius Beck, Nobody, Small is Beautiful (formerly of Islands) and a few others. This cast lends a deliberately disparate selection of tracks, giving Subtitle the opportunity to prove that he can rhyme over just about anything. Even if you decide you cannot handle the novel lyrical terrain on which Giovanni Marks roams, you cannot deny his diversity and flexibility as an emcee.