Saturday, June 10, 2006

Opinions and Assholes

The last two volumes of the Rhyme Torrents Nerdcore Compilation project are available for download. I’ve only personally listened (and I mean really, really listened) to volumes one and two, but so far I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed. It’s not a project I’m involved in. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mentioned that I have volunteered to help High-C out with compiling the liner notes.) It is, however, a project I completely support.

I said from the very beginning that Hipster, please! was about nerd love, nerd pride, and, most importantly, the fostering of a nerd music community. I stand by that, and what kind of dick would I be if I didn’t give, as they say in the vernacular, mad props to those who busted ass to put these disks together? A pretty big one, I reckon.

Now that the proverbial rubber has hit the road, it seems as though some of the artists involved are voicing their disappointment about the project as a whole. After careful consideration, I’ve elected not to link to these missives as this could be construed as running counter to the “nerd love” portion of my mission statement. Suffice it to say that these folks are entitled to their own opinions, and have every right to express them to their fans. An artist’s work is a result of his experiences, and what he feels is what he produces.

More than anything, I suppose, I’m saddened by what I view as chinks in the armor, divisions within the community, bad blood between artists. I’m not going to bullshit anyone and say that I love all of the tracks presented through this project, but, as mentioned above, I’m genuinely impressed with the overall output. There have been some recurring complaints leveled mostly at the newcomers, particularly about the dubious quality of some of their tracks. While this is certainly true, I found that many of the tracks with substandard production quality made up for this lack of polish with lyrical content, flow, and good ol’ fashioned panache.

All in all I’d say that I was disappointed by just as many of the contributions from “established” nerdcore artists as I was from the n00bs. The problem inherent in this is that it’s a wholly subjective issue: It simply comes down to personal likes and dislikes. Are there things I would’ve changed about the project had I been at the helm? Shit yeah! Would I have pushed for less diss rhymes? Sure. Would I have been more selective, possibly more elitist, about track selection? Maybe so. Of course, had I been in charge, odds are the comp would’ve never been seen to fruition. This was High-C’s game, and he played it well. Played the fuck out of it, in fact. For me, the bottom line is that C stepped up and put this thing together when no one else would. The contributors stepped up too, and I give love to one and all, whether your track found its way into my heavy rotation or not.

Had it not been for Rhyme Torrents, many of the new acts whose works I find myself falling in love with would have probably never graced my hard drive. And truthfully, some of these cats may’ve never had the nerve to put their stuff out there in the public forum in the first place. This thing was opened up to everyone, and that goes a long way in community building. We can hem and haw about what is and what is not nerdcore. We can look down our collective nose at those we find beneath us. We can flay the flesh from this thing’s soft underbelly and stare at its naked innards. Hell, we can separate all the hackers and the code-monkeys into one little corner and the lit geeks into another, the tabletop RPGers into one and the otaku into yet another, but eventually, folks, we’re going to run out of corners. We can put the founding fathers on one side of the room and the Johnnies-come-lately on the other but, while we might have lots of space to dance in-between these two camps, this won’t craft a cohesive movement.

Of course, we can also embrace the scene warts-and-all, accept the fact that we’re all fuckin’ geeks and misfits and outcasts, pistol-whip our inner fanboys, and do what we can to elevate ourselves and the others whom we find sharing our little niche. We, both fans and musicians, can either turn this into something that divides us or we can go out of our way to make ventures like this a hallmark of nerd music. Nerdcore’s got soul and nerdcore’s got heart. New experiences feed that soul. And without new blood, what’s that heart going to pump?

Rather than asking whether this one or that one is good for the ubiquitous nerdcore scene, I’ve elected to turn the eye inward and see if I’m doing my part to elevate it. I’m just trying to build bridges, even though my constructs are prone to structural defect. In the end, the only thing this guy is against in the community is squabbles, because squabbling is fruitless and “squabble” is a goddamn silly word.

My pop was always quick to remind me that opinions are like assholes: Everyone’s got one and most of ‘em stink. So I guess you can just consider this one asshole’s opinion. No warranty implied and your miles may very. Take my words with a grain of salt, but take it still.

Nerd Up.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant essay!

I wish I had even a smidgen of your diplomacy. ; )

Smidgen is even goofier than 'squabble'.

Your grandma,

BS said...

Hi, great write-up. I even found myself descending into back-biting territory, albeit privately. Reading your post has inspired me to elevate and not wallow in human nature. Thanks.

Baddd Spellah

ps. please change your link to my crap to, is soon to expire for good.

Anonymous said...

very well put, i couldn't have said it better myself.
i've been receiving a lot of flack because of my "hype", and i had sort of expected that the "nerdcore scene" would be different than the pretentious back-biting that went on when i used to be involved with indie rock. the idea of artists going off and forming their own alliances and vendettas is better left to the gangsta-rappers. we're nerds, for chrissakes, we're supposed to stick together.
thanks for your very poignent entry.

Beefy said...

I'm disappointed in myself at this point. I wanted to be as honest as possible but I was too aggressive. I didn't think the entire collection sucked, but I was tired of everyone blowing smoke up each other's asses. No one had a negative word to say? Bullshit! I was still fuming from the previous night (long story) and I wanted to rip on somebody. And I think my evaluations of two people were very blunt and opinionated, but I think I was honest and respectful of everyone else. I think only two or three sentences were read by my most vocal opponents. So while I still think I've done nothing wrong, I can see how this has hurt nerdcore as a whole and for that I am disappointed in myself.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments, although I still maintain that the compilation would've benefitted greatly from some tighter editing. There's some stuff that just doesn't fit the genre (ie the 'hip hop' part), for a start. By and large, it's a good effort, and hopefully the first of many.

Gabriel said...

You beat me to this topic. I couldn't agree more. Actually, I think that at this point in time, we need to be expanding the idea of what 'nerdcore' is; rather than trying to cast out those who don't meet our (individual) standards, we need to include those who don't necessarily wave the banner, but don't hide from their geekishness either.

Stormy (bits) Waters said...

ah, refreshingly inciteful. May we all find mutual ground to defend.

It kind of reminds me of the sovreign nation episode of sealab where they all create their own nations after succeeding from the large nation they originated from.

Did we not learn anything from this? Do we want to "squabble" ? I think a good rap battles nothing to be ashamed of as long as its done in agreement that its all in fun and at the end of the day your not throwing up firewalls between you and your opponent.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is cant we all just get along or are we going to have to give in to the plum bots and change'o'trons?

Z. said...

Damn, this post is still getting responses! Thanks, everyone, for all the comments. I appreciate the fact that, though we may not see eye-to-eye on the issue, we can at least participate in a good-natured dialogue. You guys are the heart and soul of the nerdcore scene, and I know all the fans agree.