If mc chris is nerdcore’s most recognizable name, if MC Frontalot’s its driving force, if Futuristic Sex Robotz are the genre’s foul-mouthed geekstas, then Beefy is certainly nerdcore’s everyman. His songs are humorous, good-natured, slice of life affairs that make him stand out from his peers by simply trying not to. Comparisons to other artists are sure to follow, but, in both verse and personality, Beefy is simply Beefy.
He was nice enough to take some time away from working on his new full-length CD, doing his part to promote the Rhyme Torrents Nerdcore Compilation CD project, appearing in the Project: Nerdcore documentary, and the myriad of other ventures in which he is currently participating to answer a few questions for Hipster, please! What follows is an assemblage of our email missives that explores the motivations and personal philosophies of nerdcore’s most prominent Whitesican.
How long have you been crafting nerdcore rhymes, and what originally got you into nerdcore?
I consider my beginning as a nerdcore rapper being when I recorded Whitesican. It's not the nerdiest song, I grant you, but it was in no way typical hip-hop or R&B. I'm not so hot with dates, but I wrote it as a freshman in 2000 and either recorded it that year or in 2001. Then I made “David's Sister” and that was all for a while. In 2004 I saw the episode of Sealab 2021 that played mc chris' "Fett's Vette" during the end credits and I found it to be very catchy. I was singing the chorus in my SQL class when a friend of mine came up and said, "Oh! You're an mc chris fan?" And I was like, "A who what now?" He told me about mc chris. After hearing his music I discovered that there were people like me that wanted to make rap songs but didn't wanna talk about cars or guns or hoes.
How is David's sister, by the way? Did she have anything to say about the song and video?
David's Sister loved the song. I wrote and recorded it in Vancouver, WA thinking I was far away now and that I'd never have to deal with seeing her again. Then I ended up moving back home a week later and had to deal with it. But it turns out that she loved it and she played it for her entire family. I asked David if he liked it, and he told me dryly, "Oh yeah Beefy, I just loved the song you made about wanting to bone my sister." I don't know, however, if she saw or enjoyed the animation because David and I had a bit of a falling out and Kathryn was none too pleased with me after that.
I couldn't help but notice the misspelling of the word "mijo" by the reporter who conducted your KomoTV interview. Truthfully now, does the Beefy clan account for the entire Latino population of the Pacific Northwest?
I took some heat for that from my family. I had to keep reminding them that I didn't type it, so it wasn't my fault. Those guys at Komo were great to interview me, but they're up in Seattle whereas I'm in the Southeast corner of the state where there is a huge Mexican population. And a huge chunk of my family comes from central Washington which has an even higher concentration of Mexican people.
What is the recording set-up for a typical Beefy session?
I make sure no one's home. I open up Audition 1.5 while I prepare my CD bindle "mic stand." I plug in my headphones, load the track, take a swig from my liter Coke bottle, and begin the process. I'm not rich man and I'm not a guy who knows what he's doing as far as audio production goes. I have a $60 mic behind a pop filter and that's as good as it's going to get for a little while. The only downside is that I usually record the same line over and over again to get it just right, and by the end of the session my voice is gone.
Fans of Beefy know that you're a Renaissance man of sorts: rapper, animator, comic artist. You've stated on your site that you refuse to focus your energy on any particular area. With that in mind: do you consider yourself more a musician or visual artist?
I guess it depends on what I'm really into at the time. With this compilation about to launch and making a new album, I'm really focusing on the music. And in a dream world this is what I would do forever because I think I'm pretty good at it. I've always wanted to be an artist though and it's been a lot of hard work getting to the point where I can draw my characters somewhat consistently. I'll probably never consider myself an artist since there are so many people I look up to who are amazing and so much better than me. I don't take the art to seriously; I just really like to doodle.
You've produced Flash-based videos for both "Whitesican" and "David's Sister" as well as countless web-comics. Which of these are you the most proud of?
I think they're all pretty cool even with their many flaws, but I guess I'm most proud of Whitesican. I've been playing with Flash since middle school and after I made the song it was only a matter of time before it got animated. I like it because it was the first time I ever tried doing anything that hard. For someone who isn't a natural artist, animation is death, even with as little actual movement my stuff has. I was just proud that I decided to start the thing and I actually finished it.
Your site runs banner ads for Suicide Girls. Do you, like your contemporary MC Frontalot, find yourself "at the mercy of any sister with wrist scars and black eye goo?"
The SG girls are almost too hot for words. Their beauty doesn't make sense. When I had first heard about the site I was turned off by it because I thought it would be a bunch of girls crying and cutting themselves for attention. But to my delight SG is all about girls getting attention the old fashion way: Taking their clothes off. And there's something new or taboo about seeing someone that good looking covered with tattoos and piercings. At this point naked girls on the Internet are old and boring. But SG makes you look at it like it's sexy art until you're like, "Woo! Naked girls on the internet are awesome again!"
How did you become involved in the Nerdcore CD compilation project?
I got an e-mail from High-C telling me about it and asked if I wanted to contribute a new song, so I told him I would thinking it would be a cool little thing with like three other small name artists. I had no idea that it was going to turn into such a big deal. And this is all because High-C has willed it so. High-C is shameless when it comes to pimping this collection and because of that there's going to be an article about us in Wired magazine and we're suppose to get reviewed by Slashdot. It's very awesome. And it's also brought the nerd community together more than ever before.
Hey, brining the nerd community together is what we’re about here! And what about the Project: Nerdcore documentary? How did you get involved with that?
Dan, the director behind the project, contacted me and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. Do you really need to ask somebody a question like that? I should have gotten an e-mail from him saying, "Hey Beefy, I'm going to give you free publicity and a new source of legitimacy. I'll be filming you soon. Love Dan." But he was very informative and he's got a whole gameplan prepared for this thing. It's a very ambitious indi project that isn't being helped by the fact that not long after it was announced, Frontalot's doc was also announced. But when this thing is made I will pimp it harder than I've ever pimped anything before.
But in the long run, I think, both documentaries will serve to strengthen the scene. The same can be said for the compilation project. Of course, all this attention could pose some unique problems. Right now it seems the nerdcore scene is expanding at an alarming rate. Where there was once only a handful of artists, there now seems to be dozens. Do you harbor any fears of commercialization or exploitation of the genre?
Only in so much as that I fear a handful of people will get a record deal of some kind and I'll be left out of the mix. I won't lie, when the new artists started popping out I was a bit of an elitist. I was also scrutinizing lyrics I thought were too mainstream and didn't have enough nerd content. But the new people are nice and while there are obviously a ton of people just jumping onto the bandwagon a lot of these kids are sincere about wanting to put out quality geek music.
There appear to be a disproportionate amount of nerdcore hip-hop artists from the Washington area. How do you account for this phenomenon? Is there something in the water?
I've joked that Washington water is jam packed with lithium! From what I understand it's just easier to be a nerd here. Bill Gates watches over us from his secret underground lair in Redmond.
Your track "Applesauce Baptism" makes some rather disparaging comments about anime. Ever worry about otaku retribution?
The only downside is that I probably can't do a show with Karl Olsen aka Ultraklystron. Even though I said he was a cool dude, I didn't say many nice things about his fans. I just think it was a point of view I hadn't heard expressed by someone my age in this genre. The hippest thing in America right now is anime and the whole "I wish I was Japanese" thing. I thought there was enough support for it and that it deserved a counter-point argument in the form of a rap song. In my defense though, Ultraklystron talks more shit about anime in his songs than I do. He even knows the producers behind the anime he hates.
Speaking of playing shows, how often do you gig out? Any tour plans?
This is lame, but I've actually never performed on stage. I know, I know. My fear is that Eastern Washington doesn't exactly have the biggest nerd population that say Seattle does. My music is too hip-hop for rock shows and too nerdy for rap shows. I do think it would be cool, but I don't know the first thing about performing on stage.
Fear not, Beefy: There’s always PAX. You've already got two EPs, several Song Fight! submissions, and bunch of other assorted tracks under your belt; Now you're working on your first full-length album. How's that going?
It's pretty tough. Mostly because I don't want to just steal random beats from the Internet. I still can't sell the record because the beats I'm getting from awesome people like Shael Riley and Drown Radio have samples in it, but at least when someone hears it they'll know that it's a beat from a Beefy song. And having a relationship with the beatsmiths allows them to tailor beats to my style which is a dream come true. If only I could make beats I'd rule the world! The album is coming together really well though and I hope to have some verses from Shael, Doctor Popular, MC Router, and a couple more if I'm lucky.
You've covered songs by some big-name nerdcore artists (specifically MC Frontalot and mc chris). How do other nerdcore hip-hoppers generally react to having their material covered?
Frontalot liked it well enough to link me on his front page a while back, so I can only assume he loves that kind of stuff. And how can you not? Someone liked one of your songs so much that they felt the need to record it in an effort to further the spread of your name. I've not heard from mc chris, but I don't think anyone has since he became this big celebrity guy. He has a MySpace though so I guess he keeps up with his Internet roots...
The fact that you’re unafraid to throw a cover song in now and again isn’t the only thing that differentiates you from your nerdcore peers: Unlike some other nerdcore acts, you tend to shy away from explicit lyrical content. Is this a conscious effort?
It is and not many people pick up on it which I think is really cool. I hate a ton of cursing in music. To me it just shows that the writer was lazy and couldn't think of enough words or syllables to make his line flow, so he just threw in some f-bombs. I cuss very regularly in my day to day conversations with friends, but I don't need it in my music. That way when I do curse in a song, it's so much more powerful than if I did it every other verse. That's how mainstream hip-hop got lazy in the first place. First they were too lazy to write real words, then they became too lazy to write actual songs. That's how we ended up with songs about "dropping it like it's hot."
And also ditties about how it’s so damn hot up in herre! *groans* Uh, anyway, on to the next question: MCs like Frontalot and Lars integrate their own political beliefs into their songs. Do you have any political or social issues that you'd like to address in your rhymes?
I do. I very much do. But to be honest my music is pretty much care free and it's just me goofing around. But while thinking up tracks for the album, I did make room for a song I'm going to call “Doomed” which will have a political theme. My only fear, though, is that people already tell me that my music reminds them somewhat of Frontalot (crazy people I don't believe) and I don't want to be seen as just copying the Front. However, "Special Delivery" is an amazing song and I think all rappers should do something like that if they can. "My Sister" is another political Front song I can really get behind.
There are many kinds of geeks: gamers, comic geeks, table-top RPGers, sci-fi fanboys, etc. What kind of geek is Beefy?
Beefy is an Internet/Comic Book/RPG geek. I wrote a love song to the Internet for a reason. I really can't get enough of it. I'm a huge comic nerd and that's all my buddies and I will talk about sometimes. When I was a junior in high school my friends introduced me to table top gaming and my social life with women was done for. GURPS has become my poison of choice, and even though my friends are scattered all over the US now, we're still starting up a GURPS game over the net.
There you have it: Beefy is a geek for all seasons. Lastly, what, in your opinion, is the nature of nerd?
To me a nerd is just someone so comfortable with who they are and what they like that they don't feel the need to impress anyone. Every other clique is so worried about making sure they fit in with what they wear and how they talk that they forget who the hell they are. Do you think a nerd worries if his friends will think his shoes are cool? Hell no! As a nerd I'm more worried about my "buddy" succeeding his stealth roll while trying to steal my ring that does +5 fire damage!
The good thing about blogging on the subject of nerd music is that nerd musicians are, by and large, courteous and accommodating. Beefy displayed these two traits in spades. In the past few weeks, this guy has gotten a ton of press, and for that he seems genuinely grateful.
If all the recent exposure causes nerdcore hip-hop to explode into the mainstream, making superstars out of meager English majors and put-upon computer programmers, then Beefy will surely ride the crest of that wave to all the fame and/or fortune that this ironic, postmodern world can afford. And if it doesn’t? Well, then I can say, with some sense of surety, that Mr. Moore will be content to simply remain Beefy: Internet celebrity.
I urge everyone – you know, all half-dozen of my loyal readers – to check out the contributions of Beefy (and all the other talented musicians who participated) on the newly available Rhyme Torrents Nerdcore Compilation CDs. I’m willing to bet that the stuff you dig will vastly outweigh the stuff you don’t. It’s a great way to support the scene, and it’s free. You can’t ask for much more than that.