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A Tribe Called Quest, circa early 90s

A Tribe Called Quest, circa early 90s

A Tribe Called Quest Member to Release First Solo Album on Glens Falls’ Sub-Bombin Records

By Adam Winters

Friday, December 13, 2013

Glens Falls-based Sub-Bombin Records has announced the release of hip-hop legend Jarobi’s first solo album in the first half of 2014.

Hip-hop heads know Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White are the John, Paul, George, and Ringo of the genre. Like rock and roll in the fifties, hip-hop in the eighties was a burgeoning scene of kids with eardrums attuned to rhythms of the street. Like the mop-tops from Liverpool, four childhood friends from Queens would channel a breadth of cultures and musical styles to redefine and transcend the form as A Tribe Called Quest.

Jarobi in the recording studio

“They completely mastered the form and culture of what hip-hop was supposed to be,” said Atlanta emcee Ludacris in the 2011 documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

“Nothing was touching Tribe. Nothing,” said mega-producer Pharrell Williams in the Tribe documentary.

Although their story is the stuff of hip-hop lore, “mystic man” Jarobi has long eluded the public eye. As Tribe recorded their Sgt. Pepper’s, hip-hop’s abstract masterpiece Low End Theory in 1991, Jarobi left the group to attend culinary school and has come and gone ever since.

In 2006, Jarobi rejoined the group and has since shared stages worldwide with Tip, Phife, and Ali Shaheed as a full “one fourth” member of Tribe.

“I’ve been saying no to too many opportunities. Next thing that pops up, I’m saying yes to,” Jarobi told Okayplayer when asked how his project, EvitaN, came about with Dres from Black Sheep. The group released its first album, Speed of Life, in October 2012.

Tribe performing at a reunion show in the early 2000's

In 2012, Jarobi attended a Sub-Bombin Records release show for Mr. Complex’s Swiss Chocolate Cake in New York City and now the hip-hop legend is working on an album for the Glens Falls-based record label.

Jarobi’s highly anticipated first solo album will feature production from Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the DJ/producer of A Tribe Called Quest.

Sub-Bombin Records plans to release Jarobi’s album sometime in early 2014 on vinyl and digital formats.

The album promises to showcase the spirit of the classic era of hip-hop, closer to the source: the street.

“Jarobi is the spirit of A Tribe Called Quest,” said Q-Tip, in the Beats, Rhymes & Life documentary.

The record label continues to build on its successes with local-turned-national acts such as Phantogram, as well as international-turned-independent legends like Gary Wilson.


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Derek Mitchell aka Mitochi

Derek Mitchell aka Mitochi

Lake George Native Releases “Cryptic Cosmic” First Album

By James H. Miller

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cryptic Cosmic is the title of local artist Derek Mitchell’s (a.k.a. Mitochi) immersive debut on Glens Falls’ Sub-Bombin Records, released Tuesday, June 26. Like some of the ambient, instrumental pioneers that precede him—Jean Michel Jarre or Tangerine Dream—Mitchell layers synthesizer tones that swell, whirl, and ripple to make a galactic sound. Unlike them, however, Mitchell works with hip-hop beats and manipulated rap samples.

“I love the beat of hip-hop, and I do a lot of sampling,” Mitchell says, who was born and raised in Lake George. But other influences, like new electronica music, have also shaped Cryptic Cosmic. “I don’t pigeonhole myself into just being a hip-hop person,” he says.

Mitchell has been involved with music in some shape or form since he was fairly young. When he was roughly 15, he dabbled in a couple different bands, playing bass and electric guitar. In the first, he covered songs by Nirvana, the 90s grunge band, and with the second, played punk rock out of a Queensbury garage. However, certain elements of hip-hop, the beats and rhythms in particular, increasingly appealed to him. He took a shot at writing rhymes and even did some recording in a studio in the old Troy Shirt Factory building, yet he didn’t appear to be cut out for it.

“I don’t have the voice for it, and my rhymes were always so abstract that no one knew what I was talking about most of the time,” he says.

When Mitchell acquired a basic drum machine in 2002, he found his niche. Since then, he has specialized in making those electronic beats and rhythms that initially attracted him to hip-hop. It was those instrumental aspects of hip-hop, more so than the lyrical content that had appealed to him. “It’s sometimes too ‘streetish’,” he says, “there’s too much talk about drugs, murder, and violence.”

Until recently, producing music has been a strictly personal, and more or less private, interest for Mitchell. “I’ve been working on this stuff for myself for a long time and not really playing it for other people,” he says. “I didn’t show it to anyone else. But then I had enough material that felt like an album.”

The Cryptic Cosmic limited edition USB

As a local label that specializes in instrumental hip-hop, Sub-Bombin seemed like the right place for Mitchell. On the label were producers working in a similar style, many of whom he considers influences. “I’ve always liked what those guys do and always paid attention to their label,” he says. Mitchell got in contact with Sub-Bombin, and the label likewise thought he’d make a good addition.

“He’s really broadened the musical spectrum of the label,” says Collin Badger (a.k.a. Midas), co-founder of Sub-Bombin. “That he can move between instrumental hip hop and a more ambient style should appeal to everybody. He’s a local musician from Lake George, too, which is always a draw for us.”

Sub-Bombin has released Cryptic on a limited edition USB card, which includes two bonus tracks. It’s an appropriate vehicle for this sequence of airy, futuristic songs. Cryptic is music for a planetarium, a passage up the Guggenheim building, or a walk along a dramatic shoreline. The quasi-video-game synths pan in and out as though coming and going from far-flung distances. The album is not something that forcibly hits you, so much as an open space that you can enter.

However, the truly original elements of the album lie in the hip-hop beats and rap samples. Rather than take a purely downtempo, contemplative approach, as most so-called “space music” tends to do, Cryptic has moments of danceablility. Call it hip-hop in slow motion. The tempo never reaches into the extremes, but it is, nevertheless, rather irresistible.

As the title of the album indicates, in addition to songs like “The Unknown Deep,” mystery is at the heart of Cryptic. “Some of the songs have a certain meaning to me,” Mitchell says, “but I wanted to do the album so that people could fill in the blanks for themselves.”

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Swiss Chocolate Cake 12" vinyl with special edition USB

Swiss Chocolate Cake 12" vinyl with special edition USB

Local Record Label Releases Album by Legendary Hip Hop Artist

By Mirror Staff

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sub-Bombin Records, the Glens Falls-based record label, has released the first album in eight years of Mr. Complex, the legendary emcee who helped drive the underground hip hop scene in New York  in the 1990s.

The album, “Swiss Chocolate Cake,” which was recorded in Basel, Switzerland in 2004, came to Sub-Bombin’s attention through the company’s relationships with contemporary hip-hop artists, many of whom view Mr. Complex as a major influence.

“We are very big fans of the work of Mr. Complex, and we are excited to be able to release this almost-mythical album,” said Collin Badger, president of Sub-Bombin. “Mr. Complex was attracted to our approach to marketing albums, and felt  the label could help him make the transition to the era of digital music, while still holding true to traditional formats like vinyl.”

The album has been released on vinyl and as a digital USB  drive and is available locally at Divinyl Revolution in Saratoga Springs  as well as through Fat Beats in Brooklyn and soon on Sub-Bombin’s new website.

Mr. Complex. Photo by Chris Vernale

According to Badger, Mr. Complex rose to prominence through his work with performers such as DJ Spinna, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Pharoahe Monch, with whom he famously performed “Simon Says” on the television show, “The Source Sound Lab”. He has also worked with artists like De La Soul, Mos Def, Masta Ace, and Common, among others. His previous albums include The Complex Catalog, Hold This Down, and Twisted Mister. He has also released two albums with his group, Poly Rhythm Addicts, which consists of DJ Spinna, Shabaam Sahdeeq, and Apani B (who was later replaced by Tiye Phoenix). Mr. Complex’s 2001 single “Underground Up,” was featured in the film Brown Sugar with Taye Diggs.

Sub-Bombin  is now recognized by  the national music media as an independent label that has found a niche releasing albums on vinyl. Its 2011 vinyl release, Rawhead’s Psychpomp, is a local best-seller.

“We not only love the sound we can achieve on vinyl; as a graphic artist, I love the  medium of the record  jacket and  the freedom it gives you to produce art work that relects the spirit of  the music,” said Badger.

Founded in in 2005, Sub-Bombin first attracted national attention when one of its acts, the electronic duo Charle Everywhere, was signed by a major independent label in 2009 and changed its name to Phantogram.

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Midas. Matt Granger Photo.

Midas. Matt Granger Photo.

Hip Hop for Rip Rap: Benefit for Dome Island to be Held August 20 at Bolton Landing’s Brass Ring

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sime Gezus

Dome Island is that rarest of things on Lake George, an undisturbed piece of the original wilderness.  And on August 20, the committee that has worked quietly for more than fifty years to maintain it in a natural state will host a fundraiser to support  its conservation efforts.

“Hip Hop for Rip Rap,” a benefit for the Dome Island Preserve Committee, will be held on August 20 at the Brass Ring in Bolton Landing.

Five acts affiliated with the upstate New York record label Sub-Bombin will perform from 9 pm to midnight. A donation of $5 per person will be collected at the door.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds will be dedicated to rip rapping so that Dome Isand will be protected from erosion,” said Henry Caldwell, the chairman of the Dome Island Preserve Committee.

According to Caldwell, conservation pioneer John Apperson began rip rapping the island in 1917 after a landslide. Apperson purchased the island in 1939 and donated it to the Nature Conservancy in 1956.

Rawhead. Matt Granger Photo.

In recent years, the Dome Island Committee and the Eastern New York Nature Conservancy, which continues to own Dome Island,  have funded many projects and programs to study and protect the larger Lake George eco-system, said Caldwell.

But, he said, Dome Island itself remains the focus of the Committee’s attention.

“We’ve funded studies of mercury pollution and wildlife corridors. We’ve supported the Adirondack Research Library, which houses important documents about the early history of conservation on Lake George. But our first priority is Dome Island,” said Caldwell.

“We’re grateful to Sub-Bombin Records and its talented stable of artists for this generous donation of time and energy,” said Caldwell.

According to Collin Badger,  who helped found Sub-Bombin in 2005,  the label began as a collective of hip-hoppers, electro-rockers, dj’s and dub-heads, who now collaborate on records and in live performances.

Based in Glens Falls, the label first attracted national attention when one of its acts, the electronic duo Charle Everywhere, was signed by a major independent label in 2009 and changed its name to Phantogram.

Sub-Bombin’s most recent release is “Psychpomp” by Rawhead, an instrumentalist who will be among the performers at the August 20 benefit.

M.R. Blackout

Issued originally as an LP, Psychpomp is “a fresh, aural eardrum experience,” according to Brooklyn-based music critic Adam Winters.

Complementing Rawhead’s beat-laden electronica at the benefit will be emcees M.R. Blackout and Sime Gezus, electronic duo Mr. Owl and Midas DJing throughout the evening.

“Even though our music is urban rooted, we love the outdoors, especially Lake George,” said Collin Badger. “Coming to Bolton Landing and a new venue is very exciting, and we know our audience will appreciate the opportunity to do something for the lake.”

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Psychopomp Cover. Design by Freshrr

Psychopomp Cover. Design by Freshrr

Rawhead’s 12” Psychedelic Romp Psychopomp

By Adam Winters

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Glens Falls-based Sub-Bombin Records has announced the release of Rawhead’s third full-length album and his first to be pressed to wax. Psychopomp finds the ambient hip-hop producer expanding his sonic oeuvre outward in every dimension of the space-time continuum and the aural eardrum experience is, shall we say, fresh.

The usual influences continue to permeate Rawhead’s sound, from the now canonized Detroit school of beat making via James Yancey aka J Dilla to the producer’s longstanding passion for low end dub luminaries King Tubby and Lee Perry. It’s all here, only more exquisitely refined than we’ve heard on the Beatwise & Alchemy albums. And just as Rawhead settles into his groove on the opening title track, he cranks the knobs distorting the cerebral inputs of the listener, and we now know what’s been in his headphones – the wunderkind producer sent from outer space by way of Los Angeles, Flying Lotus.

Psychopomp is the sound of a producer finding his voice through subtraction and distillation – Rawhead has stripped away the samples of old and recurring time signatures driving the backbeat and crafted his sound on stage as if it was his studio during some of the sickest live sets ever put on by Sub-Bombin. Innovative experimentation live with drums and looping has manifested in a veteran producer with a newfound command of negative space and astral tension permeating his fingertips. Prepare to be in on a little hometown secret before it goes viral – Rawhead is for real.

Psychopomp is available in its entirety on 12” vinyl through Glens Falls’s own Sub-Bombin Records or for the digi-philes out there, Side A of the album can be purchased along with 2 bonus tracks in a multitude of formats from Rawhead’s Bandcamp.

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