Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yo! Nerd Raps! No, really.

 I've talked a little before about my taste in music, but despite the wide variety, I'd still classify more than half of it as what someone would call “mainstream”. Most of the off the path stuff is one or two bands or even just a couple songs in a style that you won't find on any radio station. There's one huge exception to all that, however. Nerdcore hip-hop, also called nerdcore rap.

I went through a time in my life where I pretty much looked down on rappers as musical artists, and I think a lot of that came from a dissatisfaction with the variety of themes used in the songs, and my lack of ability to really connect with a lot of it. Now, as an adult, I've learned to appreciate rap music as a medium, and though I prefer “Old School” to newer stuff, I sometimes even hear something new out of the rap world that I think is really cool. There's still that lingering something, though... so many songs about how much money someone has, casual sex and drug use or drug selling. There can be (and have been) great songs about those topics, but... really? Is that it?

No. That's not it.

I gotta get a copy of this. Waiting on Netflix to hook a geek up.

Off the charts and off the beaten path, there's a movement. It isn't anywhere near mainstream, but there are a lot of fans and some really, really good artists working in it. I'm talking about nerdcore. Rapping about old computer games, programming concepts and webcomics, rhymes with references to Star Wars and Nintendo, beats backed by 8-bit chip synth. Now this, this is something I can relate to. Not only that, but it is different. Rap could use some different.

A lot of the tracks are funny, almost all are clever, so the first reaction is typically “So... this is some kind of parody, right?” The idea that people could be doing this kind of music about these kinds of things is ridiculous, who would listen to it? Well, I would, for one. You can look at the YouTube comments for pretty much any nerdcore video, and see comments reflecting the same kind of intolerance and small-mindedness now that what we think of as mainstream rap got a lot of when it first dropped.

Not the kind of rapper who makes you think "street".

Some of the first and biggest nerdcore stars still command tiny audiences as compared to what you'd see in traditional rap or rock fanbases, but they are prolific in this scene. The accepted first use of the term “nerdcore” came from MC Frontalot, who has been plugged by Penny Arcade, covered by other artists and has a movie, Nerdcore Rising, about his tour. Another bigger name is mc chris. He is best known for his track “Fett's Vette”, rapped from the perspective of Boba Fett himself, and his work with Aqua Teen Hunger Force as “MC Pee Pants” and other incarnations of the same character.

I'll at some point likely return to a host of nerdcore artists for individual artist profiles, for the two I mention above as well as some lesser-known talents. MC Lars and YTCRACKER are, in my mind, two of the other “bigger names”, and there's a whole mid-tier set of artists including Nursehella, Beefy, Optimus Rhyme and Jesse Dangerously. A lot of these artists are working hard in a scene that is barely recognized as legitimate, but their fans appreciate them anyway. More than a few of them are featured in the documentary Nerdcore For Life, which was released last year. (Poster is, of course, the image at the start of this article.)

Nerdcore start mc chris in his animated glory.

Rhymes about how you don't get laid because you can't talk to girls? Frontalot did it. A track about how an attractive woman can throw a Vampire LARP into chaos? MC Diabeats did that. World of Warcraft? Oh, yeah, plenty of rappers make music about nearly nothing else, but I favor Fatty (who might be unique in the rap game as a lesbian geek rapping about video games.) There is a lot more to the medium than money, misogyny, guns and drugs. A whole lot more.  
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14 comments:

Jay said...

thanks, i'll check them out. it seems that i can relate more with their music... :)

A Beer for the Shower said...

I've been waiting my whole life for rap I can identify with.

I'm gonna be honest, when I first read the title, I thought it said nerd rape. Which I'm also okay with. What?

Tweeks Coffee said...

great post. following!

G said...

very cool rap!

Bard said...

Cool, I gotta go check this out!

Moob said...

I watched a pretty interesting documentry about MC Front a lot a few weeks ago.

Stare Dad said...

nerds like rap?

Meghan Moran said...

nerdcore is my favorite type of core.

Alpha said...

A WoW rap? I'm in

Biff Tanner said...

Lol well this is different.

The Angry Lurker said...

Will look up some of them on Youtube.

Jessica Thompson said...

Nerd rap is hilarious, they're very creative and have a great vocabulary. Following and supporting. alphabetalife.blogspot.com

Patti D. said...

wow, very interesting, will try and listen to them

Justin said...

Lol, this sparks some interest.

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