Real Good You Guys Nerdcore HipHop

first_img Geek and nerd culture isn’t simply about anime, comics, sci-fi, technology, and video games. Sometimes it’s about dope beats, fresh flow, and boundless positivity. I’m talking about nerdcore hip-hop, a sub-sub-genre of rap and the fire-spitting nerds who live it. Specifically, I’m talking about MC Frontalot, MC Lars, Mega Ran, and Schaffer the Darklord, all four of which I saw live as part of their Awesome Friendship Adventure Tour.Nerdcore hip-hop that builds on the nerdier references and concepts touched on by artists like the Beastie Boys and Del the Funky Homosapien. It takes the idea of offhandedly mentioning Spock and having a giant robot in your music video, and turns it into the thematic core of an entire genre. If most hip-hop comes from growing up on the streets, nerdcore is about growing up on the Streets of Rage.It’s more about geek media consumption (which is now called “pop culture” for some reason), and it’s reductive to write nerdcore off simply as novelty rap. There are plenty of references to video games and sci-fi in the rhymes, but that’s only part of a larger identity that nerdcore embraces. Nerds aren’t simply people who love very specific types of media. They’re intelligent, awkward, generally introverted individuals who often struggle with issues of identity in the face of a broader culture that doesn’t share their perspective. That awkwardness and intelligence is truly what shapes nerdcore hip-hop, and makes it so positive.That brings us to the four artists I saw on Monday, starting with MC Frontalot (Damian Hess). He’s in many ways the father of nerdcore, since he coined the term in 2000. He’s also the most aesthetically nerdy nerdcore artist because of it, with stage look that includes a short-sleeved dress shirt, a necktie, and his signature thick black glasses. Like his name implies, fronting is the closest thing he has to a gimmick, with tracks like “Braggadocio,” “Front the Least,” and “Front the Most.” He goes all over the nerdy landscape when he isn’t lyrically bragging, though, rapping about everything from cyber-security (“Secrets from the Future“), grammar (“Tongue-Clucking Grammarian“), and even bridge engineering (“Floating Bridge“).MC Lars (Andrew Nielsen) has described his nerdcore work as post-modern, exploring a wide range of subjects while keeping a core of nerdy enthusiasm. He pined for the days of ska with MC Bat Commander in “This Gigantic Robot Kills,” promoted digital distribution as the answer to record labels with Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup in “Download This Song,” and attacked empty consumerism disguised as social rebellion with The Matches in “Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock.” He also put out a concept album about Edgar Allen Poe (The Edgar Allen Poe EP).Mega Ran, also known as Random (Raheem Jarbo), He started rapping with a tribute album to Mega Man called Mega Ran. It got him on Capcom’s radar, which gave him a licensing deal to keep doing what he was doing. He later followed it up with Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 tribute albums, Mega Ran 9 and Mega Ran 10. He raps about video games a lot, but he doesn’t stop there. He taps into his experience as a middle school teacher with Language Arts Vol. 1, 2, & 3, and even goes full-blown wrestling mark with his albums Mat Mania and Mat Mania 2: The Revenge, with tracks about Randy Savage (“The Madness“), The New Day (“New Day Raps“), and Jake the Snake (“DDT“).The last act in this currently touring nerdcore foursome is Schaffer the Darklord (Mark Shaffer). He’s the bad boy of nerdcore, with a supervillain persona that includes a suit, black gloves, and a track called “Supervillain.” He mostly sings about sex, drugs, violence, and cats. Dude loves cats, and if you do too you should listen to his track “Cat People.” For his villainous braggadocio, though, he has an aggressively vocal streak of positive morality, and his track “Yes” is a must-listen proclamation of the nature and necessity of informed consent to sex.Albums like MC Lars’ The Edgar Allen Poe EP and songs like Schaffer the Darklord’s “Yes” are what make nerdcore more than just a novelty genre. Beyond just rapping about comics and video games they like, all four of these artists use their notebooks and mics to encourage positive changes. MC Lars and Mega Ran promote education and literature; besides Edgar Allen Poe, they’ve made “lit-hop” tracks about the works of Mark Twain (MC Lars’ “Huck Finn’s on the Run“) and Franz Kafka (Mega Ran’s “Buggin“). On the more esoteric side, MC Frontalot converted the lettering of Edward Gorey into a typeface, which you can use under the Creative Commons license.MC Frontalot and Schaffer the Darklord regularly address both social and personal issues, condemning bigotry and encouraging self-care and improvement. MC Frontalot has rapped about the need for free speech and the open exchange of information (“Freedom Feud”), the importance of a secure and free democratic process (“Black Box,” with Mega Ran), and the negativity of homophobia (“I Heart Fags“). Schaffer the Darklord has not only rapped about misogyny (“Boys“), gender identity (“Tomgirl“), but tackled anxiety, depression, and coping mechanisms with his entire Sick Passenger concept album.Yes, nerdcore hip-hop is fun novelty rap that talks a lot about computers and video games. It’s also a powerful genre that encourages education and literacy, condemns the toxic behavior, and explores heavy issues of mental and emotional health.It’s real good you guys.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Real There You Guys: Ready Player One and Nostalgia as Generational PoisonReal Good You Guys: ThinkGeek’s Bags of Holding (Fast Travel and M… last_img

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