Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a nerd's world

I compare crafting a cohesive nerdcore scene to washing my toddler’s hair: No matter how delicate and determined you are there’s always going to be some tears and you’re apt to end up with a bit of a mess. Still, the Rhyme Torrents project set out to do just that (to bring together the nerdcore scene, not wash my kid’s hair), and, in spite of some negative attention, hurt feelings, and verbose grandstanding, it actually came together really well. It garnered some genuine recognition, got the artists and fans talking, and fostered some real give-and-take among a group of individuals who were previously, for the most part, anonymous words and voices across the WWW.

Now I could exhaustively detail each track’s strengths and weaknesses, breaking them down all scientific-like – holding them under my mental microscope in hopes of getting a glimpse of their sub-atomic geek components – and thereby corrupting any actual artistic merit and inherent emotional context, or I could simply point out some interesting shit that I discovered by sole virtue of my close proximity to this creative escapade. Doesn’t that sound way more fun than an eight thousand word liked-this-one-but-this-one-needs-work dissertation? I sure as hell think so.

  • Nerdcore gets a hype man: Morris Day has Jerome, Chuck D has Flava Flav, and Beefy has Jones. Up until recently Jonesy was just that dude from Beefy’s podcast who (along with girlfriend Paige) serves as both friend and foil to the host. In the track “Tub of Tabasco,” however, Jones shines as Beef’s in-song partner in crime. Art imitating life? You’re damn right!
  • The ladies, the ladies!: Whether it’s MC Router representing gamer girls, Nursehella raining lyrical fire from the Great White North, or Li’l Nix holding shit down on the CS tip, the ladies of nerdcore roared on all fronts. And these ladies are in no way the exception to the rule; the entire project was peppered with geek-girls unafraid to fly the flag. (Queue Aretha singing “Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves.”)
  • How the hell didn’t I know about…: Even for someone like me, who devotes entirely too much time and energy to seeking out nerdy music, the Rhyme Torrents track list was an eye-opening experience. For me, this was especially true on the DJ and producer side of things. Sure, I was familiar enough with Baddd Spellah, Sheal Riley, and Doctor Popular, but some established cats who’s style I’d never had the pleasure of hearing really stepped up the game: deejay manticore’s St. Roman’s Passion” is a late-night driving jam to rival all others, DJ Snyder’s Anime Convention” builds up strong and hits you with some special musical guests, Oddioblender’s "Eli The Indie Rockette" summarily lifts your spirit and shakes your ass, and myf’s Top Secret!” easily contains twice your recommended daily allowance of aggressive scratching and funky horn hits.
  • Bring a friend: An interesting aspect concerning the project (which seems to be overlooked thus far) is how, in many cases, an artist who was approached with an invitation to participate responded “Sure, that sounds great! And you should also talk to this person.” A perfect example is J-Nerdcore (Is that even a genre?) artist Rai, who was introduced via her connection to otaku rapper extraordinaire Ultraklystron. Her tracks "Big Lie" and "Sunny Sunny Sunday" appear in the original Japanese. How nerdcore is that?
  • Nerdcore summed up through its differences: One thing that can’t fully be expressed to someone who hasn’t heard the collection in its entirety is how varied nerdcore truly is. Surely this could be remedied by establishing some hackneyed canon of what is and is not geek, but this is no solution. The fact that these similar musicians are, in fact, so very dissimilar is both the strength of the community and, to some extent, the purpose of the project itself. Some saturate their music and lyrics with as much nerd energy as possible while others adapt existing style, flow, or instrumentation to fit their geeky needs. Within the confines of each disk you’ll find humor, politics, pop, metal, alienation, sexuality, and the list goes on and on. In the end, nerd is as nerd does.
I could go on and on but, as I don’t fancy this becoming a David Letterman affair, I’m going to truncate this communiqué.

To reiterate, forging a nerdcore scene is like washing my kid’s hair: It’s hard work, and messy, but in the end, if you try your damnedest, you can finally get all the spaghetti sauce out.

Okay, so maybe that parallel doesn’t quite hold up all the time.

What I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t surprised by the fact that I enjoyed the compilation. I am, to say the least, an easy sell on all things nerdcore. I was, however, surprised, impressed, and pleased with the way nerdcore was represented. The four disks (five, if you count the extra tracks High-C is currently compiling) provide a genuine sense of what the genre’s about. They present a myriad of artists -- some deadly serious about the music, others just in it for a good time -- performing in a multitude of styles bound together solely by a mutual acceptance of their own geek tendencies. You’d think I, of all people, would refuse to be shocked by such a development, but it’s one thing to preach nerd love and celebrate geek diversity, it’s quite another to actually see these principles in action.

Suffice it to say that the less-than stellar reception the compilation has received on some fronts is far from surprising. Nerd is a term originally intended to marginalize, and when such a robust group turns it into a badge of honor there will most certainly be backlash. When it’s all said and done, if Rhyme Torrents does more to strengthen the resolve of the existing community than to bring in a throng of new fans then it has certainly achieved a major objective. Nerds will continue to discover and support the endeavors of others of their tribe, for that is what they do. That is what we do.

As I sit in front of the preternatural glow a LCD monitor quick-saving the rough draft of this post to a miniscule USB drive (so tiny that I often lose it in the clutter of my desk) so that soon I might post it on a weblog for other geeks to read and comment on if they feel led, I know that this is a nerd’s world whether our music hits Top 40 or not. We might not run it. We might not get the glory. We might not make all the bank and get all the chicks, but you can be damn sure that the modern world, this electronic age, is ours alone. If there’s a device that's made your life better, a revolution that's made a hard task easier, or a contemporary convenience that you’ve enjoyed, we were at the heart of its creation. Because that’s what nerds do. We create. And if we can just keep creating together, supporting one another, sharing ideas and ideals and outlooks, then there’s no limit to where we’ll take it.

See this era, embrace it. We are the future and we gotta make it.” –YTCracker

4 comments:

Doc Pop said...

Dude, that pretty much sums it all up.

Nice recap article.

Z. said...

Thanks, Doc! And thanks for stopping by. :)

Beefy said...

lol, Jones is now in love with you for mentioning him. You've created a monster! Now he refuses to work unless I give him a bowl of red M&Ms. Thanks again Z.

Z. said...

Hey, if Jones wants to kill a hooker and eat her fetid flesh, you let him! He’s a force to be reckoned with. A superstar in the making. He’s like Farnsworth Bentley sans sweater vest. Mark my words; when the first nerdcore video drops on TRL, Jones will be in it. In the background. Probably dancing or holding an umbrella or some shit like that. :D