Updated: May 16
An artistic individual feeds off life and not just life, but those things which the rest of us seem to vilify, avoid, and ubiquitously distance ourselves from when we have the chance. What is that trait that pushes the artist to create, the poet to write, the musician to composer, and even the bird to sing? Fear. But more accurately, an intuitive urge to change their surroundings in order to NOT feel fear. In an interview with Vermont Hip-Hop, Subtex in eloquent detail alluded to his artistic raison d’etre as exactly this, that is his devotion to the arduously byzantine task of representing the human experience in art.
“What keeps me motivated to keep creating is life. Life mirrors my music. I’ve always used the art of lyricism to project the art of life, and vise versa. Inspiration exists on so many levels. Music is the baseline, how you project yourself beyond that is motivating to me.”
Upon this foundation, Subtex’s new release ‘Love Art Pain’ comes into the mix and serves as the amalgamous, old-school/new-school gateway into the Hip-Hop world of what once was and could possibly be again. In this ‘Golden age’ blast from the past with its methodical, boom bap grooves of Hip-Hop’s most seminal period, paired with the soulful ‘jazzicality’ of 90s too-cool-for-school low-top laxity combine and are met in formative accord by eclectic declamations of three takes on the meaning of living. Continuing in the [unfortunately now] off-center angle of Hip-Hop philosophy, sociocultural critique and metalyricism, having previously published two albums, ‘Book of Ezekiel’ and ‘Book of Ezekiel 2,’ deriving their inspiration from the biblical story of God’s sojourn down to Ezekiel where his charged with saving decrepit humanity, ‘Love Art Pain’ is the first glimpse into Subtex’s trinitary gospel. Rather than ‘save’ humanity however Subtex, along with the Bristol-born, internationally recognized rapper/activist Wish Master, and New York-based rapper and producer Delory Henry [Skanks the rap Martyr], he instead opts-in to display life’s tumults in a pastiche-like design, exploiting the foreboding proclivities of Hip-Hop’s illustrious past, albeit with a contemporary, instrumental aptitude.
The track’s stripped-back, in one sense relatively empty floor-plan and repetitious musical structure, puts center stage the vocalist’s attitudes towards the act of pushing forward despite existential dread, abstracted ‘pain,’ and regretful decisions, all for the sake of Art. The anonymous British street artist Banksy had once said, “All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?” Subtex takes his fears and runs towards the fire.
Whether by purpose or unconscious serendipity, the track’s souped-up, Boom Bap underbelly with its soulful, R’n’B-jazz insertions from criminally undervalued singer Bettye Swann and her 1968 melancholic ode to heartbreak ‘Closed For The Season,’ all bespeak to Subtex’s refined ability to artistically evaluate and conceptually unify his natural inclinations towards externalizing his diegetic interiority, so that we all may be welcomed inside. From the musical aesthetics chosen, the filled-out, ‘drunken’ cyclicality of Beep Bop’s fallen [not-yet-risen] state with the all-but-forgotten harmonious verisimilitude of the Golden 60s, to the declamational exactitude of all three, sonic poets [I personally consider rappers poets first, rapper second] whose outlook of the ‘hero’s journey’ oscillate between fatherhood, self-doubt, and bad choices, paint Subtex not as just a rapper who ‘spits’ to raise money for his family [a father of a beautiful girl and devoted husband]. He systematically compresses the tribulations of an artist into a singular phrase, all founded by the question ‘What are you willing to give up/work through/trade-in for your art?’ In an off-the-cuff statement with the artist, he had said: