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L.A. art-rapper Subtitle returns with 'Black Jack Parsons' EP

November 11, 2011 | 12:21 pm


Subtitle is advanced. In 2003, when he first emerged on underground rap radars, the artist didn't fit into any previously established categories. How, after all, to pigeonhole the beanpole-built Giovanni Marks, who rapped in slashing patterns about obtuse topics, with enough self-aware sarcasm for a Woody Allen film?

Marks was signed to Gold Standard Laboratories, the defunct L.A. label co-owned by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, following a series of off-kilter, forward-thinking, self-released CD-Rs.  Later, he and beat scene innovator Thavius Beck formed the duo Lab Waste, one of Marks' many collaborations -- including a highly memorable turn on Islands' psychedelic banger, "Where There's a will, There's a Whalebone."

In 2006, he released one of the first records on the pre-Low End Theory, Alpha Pup. The record featured production from Daedelus, Madlib, Nobody, Daddy Kev, Omid and Dntel. He was there.

Then just like that he left. A passport was stolen, a tour canceled. When the situation was sorted he split L.A. for self-imposed exile in Berlin, Brussels, St-Entienne, France, and London. The sort of self-imposed exile that feels more like a privilege. He said he was retired. Yet five years later the underground rap scene seems to have caught up with Subtitle, with street rappers prone to Project Blowed Flights of fancy and Project Blowed standard-bearers making sex albums over auto-tune and heavy bass.

A few months ago, Marks came home. He said he didn't want to rap anymore, but Nocando told him to stop being ridiculous. Thus, we have "Black Jack Parsons," a free 17-month EP released through Nocando's Hellfyre Club Imprint.

Named after the famous rocket scientist/occultist/L. Ron Hubbard consort, it captures Subtitle's flair for the bizarre, complete with outer space and "Small Wonder" references. He recorded it in three days. He made all the beats. He will tell you that on the intro. From there on out, it's evidence why Marks is warmly welcomed back. What's better, he won't have to play catch-up.

Download: (Pop & Hiss Premiere)

ZIP: Subtitle-"Black Jack Parsons"


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-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: Subtitle. Credit: From Subtitle