Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Sub-Surface


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 16, 2006

Heads Up! This article is 16 years old.

“Dope hip-hop music in Indiana can be hard to come by,” said Nearest Nova producer Gyrid “Enock Root” Lyon when asked about Sub-Surface’s upcoming CD release party at the Fort Wayne Hip-Hop Dance studio on Friday, November 24. “[The release party] will have several dope acts in one place at one time, but, really, everyone should come see Sub-Surface and hang out before they blow up and are too busy to talk to us.”

After hearing emcees Berremas “Scripture” Wimes and Levon “Rhymewise37” and DJ Tony “Illiana Jonze” Jones’ debut long-player, The Others, Lyon’s is a hard statement to debate. Of all people, Rhymewise and Scripture seem ready to do so.

“I’m not going to say that it’s impossible, but it’s really unlikely that a group like Sub-Surface will make it onto MTV anytime soon,” explained Rhymewise. “It’d be nice if we didn’t have to work nine-to-five jobs, and that’s the goal, but for now we’re just trying to make the best music we can.”

Scripture, too, had thoughts on the group’s current status. “Too many classics. Fort Wayne cats seem to think that just because they got an album and worked hard, that it’s a classic. We know we got a long way to go yet,” he said.

“We don’t want to end up with 500 copies of our album sitting in our garage like so many people do,” said Rhymewise. “but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves either.”

“I know it took a long time for the full-length to arrive / But that don’t mean it ain’t gonna be nice / You can’t just make a quality album overnight / And it’s not like we’re in the twilight of our prime, right,” summarizes Scripture on the album’s stripped down boom-bap intro track, “BoomBox Intro.” So now, with a legitimate, professional and (arguably) classic product to promote, Sub-Surface seem poised to move into a power position in the regional hip-hop scene. They’ve played the shows (“I’m pretty sure that we’ve done more out-of-town shows than any other Fort Wayne hip-hop group ever,” said Scripture), gotten their music in people’s hands (We’ve sold out of two runs of our EP already” explained Rhymewise) and put in the groundwork to “make it” as professional hip-hop artists.

Now that we’re officially way ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back. Scripture and Rhymewise met while attending South Side high school in the late 90s. Explained Rhymewise, “We had a class together and would just end up talking about music a lot. We were both really digging the Wu-Tang Clan at the time. Scripture was already in a group with a bunch of other cats called Nostylga. I came to learn that they all used to meet up down the block from my house to chill at the reservoir.”

Next came the move that would change both involved artists lives forever. Explains Rhymewise, “I went there and spit my best verse, which was later dubbed ‘The Bungle Rap’ as Script and fellow emcee Faces would call it in reaction to how bad it was. Eventually they let me join the group and in due time it was whittled down to just Script, Faces and myself.”

Faces eventually began working with another crew that would become Mobb Music, leading Script and Wise to head into a different direction that would eventually be known as Sub-Surface. “Around this time,” said Rhymewise, “we met Andromeda (DJ Polaris and Brainstorm) and began participating in the Reality’s Bastards’ open mic sessions at Legends. The DJ that would scratch at those shows name was DJ Illiana Jonze, whom we would later be formally introduced to by Brainstorm. Eventually we started doing shows with the Underground Coalition and began working closer with DJ Polaris who produced pretty much all of our initial songs.”

This period of time proved crucial for Sub-Surface, as they began establishing relationships with other artists from around the region – specifically, Fort Wayne – and worked towards enhancing their live shows. While recording The BoomBox Sampler EP with DJ Polaris, Script and Wise became close with Jonze, who would soon after join as the group’s fulltime DJ, thus completing their sound.

“Jonze was able to talk Glide into letting us onto the bill for the first 32 Deadly Masters hip-hop event in 2004,” said Rhymewise. “That was the night that we released The BoomBox Sampler.” The EP, with it’s catchy hooks, throwback beats and promising vocals became a mainstay in the CD players of pretty much everyone – artist or fan – in the Fortress hip-hop scene for well over a year.

As the trio kept playing shows, including opening slots for OneBeLo and Glue, their name became known, and followers began frothing at the mouth for the group’s debut album. “I can’t speak for everyone in the group, but what really got me to finish the album is that I didn’t want to go another year without having something to promote. We had run out of The BoomBox Sampler again, so doing out-of-town shows was becoming less and less economical for the group” said Rhymewise when asked about the timing of The Others completion. Perpetually nagged about releasing new material, Sub-Surface went through a few transitions in a time that saw only a few new songs, most of which were included on The Underground Coalition’s A Panic Is Brewing album. They were honored by the attention and enthusiasm – even earning a couple of Whammy nominations for “Best Hip-Hop Artist” – but felt as though they had a mission to complete on their own terms. “I’ll admit that the album should’ve probably been done before now, but people were acting like we were lazy” said Rhymewise. “We focus on more than just putting out records. We spend a lot of time on all aspects of the group, including promoting the songs we already have out by playing live shows and working to figure out what to do next, and how to do it the best we can.”

Regardless of what people may say, or what their two-or-so years without a release might imply, Sub-Surface have been moving forward all along. Some of the songs on The Others have been in the can for some time, while others are relatively new, but more importantly the ideas and concepts for what the trio wanted to produce have been established from the beginning. And what are these ideas and concepts? Thick, organic beats with soul and funk vibes pave the way for lyrics about the state of hip-hop, religion, general life struggles and plans, individuality, family, etc. are all in the formula for Sub-Surface’s classic-meets-modern shtick.

A pivotal point for The Others’ future came when the group established an artistic relationship with an Indianapolis crew by the name of Nearest Nova, specifically the aforementioned producer extraordinaire Enock Root.

“I first met Sub-Surface in the fall of 2004 at an all-ages spot in Indianapolis where both of our groups had just performed. After the show members of our both crews talked for awhile and found that we were fairly like-minded artists,” explained Enock Root. “I went to a couple more Sub-Surface shows before Rhymewise called me and asked me if I’d be interested in sending them some beat samples.”

Over the next two years Enock Root sent Sub-Surface a beat CD or two a month. After hearing, as Enock Root describes it, “about 30-40 of my beats” Sub-Surface completed six songs over Enock beats, all of which appear on The Others.

“We feel blessed to have met him and to be able to work with him as much and as closely as we have. We know we’ve got something good in our relationship with him,” said Rhymewise when asked about outside contributors. “We can’t say enough about the dude. The same goes for Eric “EDS” Stine, who basically did everything including artwork, recording, beats and so on,” said a seemingly always laid-back and candid Scripture.

EDS, who has in the last year alone became one of the most known artists in Fort Wayne, helped Sub-Surface create the product they desired with his studio knowhow and wholly original production. His production on the track “Mundayne,” in particular, is breathtaking.

“That dude doesn’t even like that beat,” said Rhymewise, commenting on EDS’ contributions to The Others. “EDS was involved with almost the whole process. From the artwork to the recording, to everything. I remember we were all sitting around, and he was bugging us about naming the album. I’ve known Roleo and EDS since way back in school. Those dudes are a self-contained unit. We’re not, but Eric made it possible for us to do things the right way.”

Another major contributor, Illastrate – who just finished producing Roleo’s first solo album – described The Others as “versatile, cohesive, fun and just an all-around good hip-hop album, easily one of the best I’ve ever heard out of Fort Wayne.” Illastrate contributed three beats for The Others and will also mix down and master the recordings in his Atlanta, Georgia studio before the disc goes to the pressing plant.

“Working with Illastrate was a blessing, as he was a member of Corrosion of Conformity, a Fort Wayne group that released The Nuthing in 1997 and influenced me to want to rap,” explained an excited Rhymewise, adding, “make sure, if nothing else, to mention C.O.C. in the story. Please.”

On the topic of influences, both Scripture and Rhymewise had much to offer. “As far as my influences go Andre of Outkast is the first one that made me want to write rhymes. Then Canibus came in. Those two dudes and Wu-Tang, and my friends are what got me into this,” said Scripture.

“Digable Planets were the first ones that really got me, although I would say that A Tribe Called Quest in essence was the first group to have a big impact on me as an emcee. When I was first getting into it, it was them and then boom, Wu-Tang hit. Then later it was Outkast and Canibus,” explained Rhymewise. When asked about Outkast, Rhymewise responded with “I like all their stuff,” which prompted Scripture to respond with a laughing, “You like all their stuff?”

“Well, I shouldn’t say I like it all. Andre turned his back on hip-hop” Rhymewise responded. The next 10 minutes saw Sub-Surface’s two emcees going back and forth about the merits of creativity in hip-hop which led to a lengthy conversation about British hip-hop. Scripture had a good laugh when this topic came up, saying, “Man, what can you do?”

Echoed Rhymewise, “I’ve heard Dizzie Rascal and The Streets, and people act like it’s so revolutionary just because these cats got an accent. I just can’t get with the British accent.”

Interrupts Scripture, “Ahh man, what about Slick Rick? It’s cool that other countries want to get in on it, I guess, and they gotta start somewhere.”

The conversation continued, occasionally getting playfully heated, thus showing both the crew’s devotion to what they believe hip-hop is, as well as how dearly they hold the element of creativity in their craft.

When asked their thoughts on signing with a record label, Scripture proved his reputation as a grounded artist, saying, “I haven’t even thought about that yet. I think we still have a lot of work to do as far as getting more exposure before a record label will take us seriously. We just have too many more things to do to even start worrying about that right now.”

Added Rhymewise, “If and when that happens I don’t want to step to a label and beg them to help us out and make us stars. I want to be able to show them what we’ve done and have a level playing ground.”

Talented, grounded, tried and true, Sub-Surface have traveled a long, hard road to get where they are today. The results of all their work to date will culminate at their November 24 album release party for The Others. Also performing will be Nearest Nova, Mobb Music and P1/T2. The $5 show starts at 5 p.m. and will be the first place you can pick up The Others. Also available will be T-shirts and a disc that compiles all of the trio’s output before recording their debut.

In the meantime, head over to www.myspace.com/boomboxhiphop and listen to two of the latest, greatest Sub-Surface tracks. As for The Others’ future? It’s a classic, no matter what its all too humble creators say. The Others is the type of album that, if put into the right hands at the right time, will live forever.

Subscribe for daily things to do:

Subscribe for daily things to do:


Whatzup

© 2022 Whatzup