With all that's happened within the sphere of Nerdcore Hip Hop over the past year, I thought now would a good time to take a look back on the landscape of geeky rap and those major players who have populated this strange and very often misunderstood world of beats, rhymes, and… dice.
This list, of course, is not solely my own; it's a compilation of the ideas and opinions of many nerdcore fans and some of the artists themselves. Special thanks go out to Dan Lamoureux, director of the upcoming Nerdcore For Life documentary; Gabriel of Nerdcore News; the fans, musicians, lurkers, and mildly interested passersby over at Rhyme Torrents; and friends of Hipster, please! who spread the word about the project.
And now that all the formalities are out of the way: on with the show.
Karl R. Olson's lyrics are such a beautiful tangle of otaku imagery and slice-of-life recollections that one sometimes has to stop and ponder exactly how deep his metaphors run. Is each track, on one level or another, a personal account? Does each Ultraklystron song contain a single player that signifies Karl himself? Are all characters – like some hokey dream interpretation rubric – a figurative embodiment of Ultraklystron? Despite all the questions, all these lines blurred between straight narrative and alliterative impressionism, Ultraklystron manages to deliver a unique brand of nerdcore that is both satisfying and enlightening, even to the non-otaku constituent.
With the release of their 2006 free-to-download album Hotel Coral Essex, Futuristic Sex Robotz burst onto the fledgling nerdcore scene with an eclectic sound that preached the glory of marathon gaming sessions and recalled the golden age of the BBS. Coaxke, PC Speaker, BonzoDog, Recycle Bin, and Subrandom traded verses over cleverly crafted hooks incorporating everything from movie samples to Motherboard's own silky-smooth vocals. The result was a cohesive release that dwarfed the output of all but the most established acts of the age.
Of course, this list would not be complete without acknowledging at least a handful of the other notable artists who merely skirted inclusion in the above. And, with that, Nerdcore Superlatives:
Baddd Spellah is admittedly not nerdcore, but his unique production style has left fingerprints across the breadth of the musical community. Through his work with MC Frontalot, his masterful remixing of artists like mc chris, and his own solo work, Baddd Spellah has left an indelible impression on the sound of nerdcore hip hop.
Ultimate Nerdy Musical Collective: Emergency Pizza Party
EPP, either by design or simply necessary function, encompasses a staggering array of Florida nerdcore artists: from founding members Betty Rebel, MC Wreckshin, and Sir-Up to new additions Jeff MK, Benjamin Bear, and Fanatical to unofficial associates like Signed Long Int and funky49. Their collaborative style is astounding, and the sheer number of participants guarantees that everyone will find something to their liking.
Most Important Beef: MC Plus+ vs. Monzy
Though thoroughly fabricated, the conflict between these two CS Gangstas attracted attention to both their own musical undertakings and the concept of nerdy rap itself. Nerdcore owes a great debt to these two programmers/PhD students.
Monzy: Visit – Listen
50% Nerd, 50% Hip Hop: Metamystiks Inc.
Demonstrating a style much more akin to the conscious alt-rap of Jesse Dangerously than the rapid-fire geekery of Lords of the Rhymes, DJ Snyder, myf, and Super Dragon X are a trio of musicians separated by geography, but flawlessly united by a shared passion for music. There style is adequately described as both nerdy rap and rap that just happens to be produced by artists with nerdy predilections.
New Artist to Watch: Zealous1
Zealous1 was thrilled with the discovery that his life-long love of music and poetry seamlessly melded into the nerdcore style. In the short time he has been actively involved in the scene, Zealous has managed to cultivate tremendous fan support and a reputation for excellence. His album Collaboc1de, literally packed with special guests, is a testament to his love for nerdcore and its ardent reciprocation.