Friday, December 01, 2006

We do it for respect because no one will give us money

I am a man of moral fiber and principle. Of course, said morality is admittedly loose; I would actually go so far as to call it malleable. There is, however, one thing on which I have remained steadfastly firm: I do not write album reviews.

I get asked questions concerning my stance on reviews (and my opposition to writing them) fairly often, and I always respond with subtle variations of what has become the party line:

My opinion is of no particular import.

There are a lot of things that influence whether or not one enjoys a particular song or album, and the vast majority of these are purely subjective. Just because I may know a bit more about an artist than some, just because I’ve maybe discussed his music or even briefly interviewed him doesn’t make my thoughts on his offerings any more valid than those of anyone else. In the end, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.

Still, I am not above sharing my impressions, my own simple, personal impressions. That is, essentially, the cornerstone of Hipster, please!: a nerd’s-eye view of the music and culture of the geek people.

So, when Beefy, an artist whom I enjoy and a person who has treated me like a friend from our very first exchange, asked if I wanted a sneak-peak of his new album, I jumped at the chance. Though anyone who listens to Just Another Lazy Podcast has already heard the bulk of Tube Technology, Beefy has been adamant about keeping several of the tracks under the tightest of wraps, and getting to hear those jewels a few days early was too sweet a deal to pass up.

Here is my breakdown of the album's contents, both the songs you know and the ones you don’t. They’re simply my opinions, and I hope you take them as such.

1. “1-800-NERDCORE”: Beefy starts off with a track that doesn’t so much defend his thoughts concerning the sanctity of nerdcore as remind us of his established position on the subject. Thematically, the song toys with annoyance without actually shifting into fully active aggression, and the rhymes remain tight even when Beefy’s flow speeds up past the expected level. Baddd Spellah’s production gives the track a definite sheen, with that dynamically layered Spellah style shining through. It’s an excellent introduction that slyly reminds listeners that this album promises to be vastly different than Beefy’s previous works.

2. “Tub of Tabasco”: Though there appear to be subtle differences between the two, this track is still as tight and good-natured as it was when it premiered on Rhyme Torrents Vol. I. It makes an excellent counterpoint to “1-800-NERDCORE.” This also marks Drown Radio’s first appearance on Tube Technology.

3. “GP”: “GP” (with its Scrubs dialogue intro and MC Router guest verse) was recently leaked on JALP. It lampoons the bling-obsessed shtick of mainstream hip hop culture by giving a nerdcore make-over to its rampantly conspicuous consumption. Beefy receives a +1 bonus for rhyming “bloggin’” with “noggin.”

4. “Outside Paradise”: This Beefy/DJ Snyder track ably won its recent Song Fight! The flows (both lyrical and musical) are vicious and the lyrics self-effacingly brilliant. That’s inconsequential, however, owing to the fact that Beefy is a goddamn friend-flooder.

5. “Feel So Good”: “Feel So Good” begins with a voicemail from an anonymous, horny stranger (who sounds a bit like Fanatical), and it’s bold Doc Pop (under the continued guise of Drown Radio) provided beat serves as an excellent transition between the aforementioned “Outside Paradise” and the two tracks to follow. While not the most lyrically complex track in Beef’s repertoire, this has all the earmarks of an excellent party song.

6. “Webcomic Junkie”: While the chorus accompaniment for this track is startling at first, this song definitely breaks from the mellower groove of earlier offerings. There’s a conspicuous lack of love given to John Allison’s Scary Go Round, but other than that it capably (and amusingly) covers all the Webcomic bases.

7. “Chun-Li”: I know very little about Skoch Tape or Street Fighter, save that both are adored by the bulk of 2nd gen nerdcore and tiny Asian women alike. The production for this song continues to shatter my pre-conceived notions about what a Beefy track should sound like. Another +1 bonus is earned for the inclusion of “in ur base killing ur doods.”

8. “Nerdcore for Life”: Nerdcore News' Gabriel makes a surprise appearance in the opener of this Snyder joint (which just so happens to be the title track from the forthcoming nerdcore documentary). In my opinion, this song is only a couple of guest verses away from being the ultimate spiritual successor to MC Frontalot’s magnum opus “Nerdcore Rising.” My only caveat concerns the life/life couplet that rounds the chorus, but the rest of the song is so strong that I can easily dismiss that very minor complaint.

9. “Bit Pop”: Beefy and Shael Riley have a long history, as do Beefy and cover songs. Therefore this track is should come as no surprise. While I wouldn’t rate this as highly as the original, it is good to hear Beefy get his sing on à la “Creative Process.”

10. “Ego Monster”: Due to the Scrubs clips and the Hipster, please! namedrop, this is the greatest song in the history of the world. Though I may be biased.

11. “The Legend of Jones McFly”: The groove of this track is a thing of beauty, as is hearing Beefy wax poetic about his best bud Jonesy. The Amy-aided chorus gives this song a rare indie feel. As silly as this track is, the flow is fierce. It is truly a labor of love.

12. “The Sound”: Once again Doc Popular (AKA Drown Radio) brings the funk. The lyrical interplay between Beefy and Doc makes this track a textural treasure. Jaw harp FTW!

13. “Write a Song About…”: I am ethically opposed to songs with ellipses in their titles, but I will make an exception for this one. This is Beefy’s experiment in speed (not to be confused with his experiment in sound), and it works well despite its brevity.

14. “Buy This CD”: Comparisons between this song and MC Frontalot’s “Charity Case” will no doubt abound, but, with its acoustic-based hook and sing-along chorus, the two are only related on the most conceptual level. This total reinterpretation of the old Whitesican track further reminds me of just how far Beefy has come.

15. “Wonderfulamazing”: I’ve rattled off several examples of how Beefy has changed – how he has developed and grown – as an artist in this post already, and apparently the big guy understands this too. Album closer “Wonderfulamazing” is a song that simply could not have existed on previous Beefy releases. It’s one of those complicated love songs of which I’m so fond, to say the least. It dwells more on direct experience than any previous track, and it does so genuinely and without the comical pretense I’ve come to expect from the artist. It lingers over moments of missed opportunity in a way that makes the track absolutely relatable to anyone who’s ever felt lovelorn. And truthfully, if Beefy were to stop making music today, I believe this would stand out as his most powerful song ever. That, my friends, is how you close an album.

In closing, I can genuinely say is that I find Tube Technology to be Beefy’s personal high-water mark, both in regards to content and structure. While it adheres firmly to the precepts of Beefy’s own brand of nerdcore hip hop, it somehow manages to simultaneously take everything that you think you know about the artist and turns it on its ear. It is far more literate, far more polished, and far more personal than anything you’ve heard from Beefy up to this point, and the progression of the album itself acts as if to accentuate this growth.

You can download Tube Technology for free via Beefy’s site beginning December 9th. Consequently, you can pick up the album early if you attend his December 2nd show with The Goondocks and Optimus Rhyme. And, while I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, I would like to humbly suggest that you give it a listen. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“And if you compare this song to the one I made before you’d say I have a type, but there’s just so much more.”

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Your Miles May Vary: Nerd Girls

The word of the day is Anekantavada.

Anekantavada, a prime tenant of the followers of Jainism, states simply that no single point of perception is entirely true, and yet each contains an undeniable element of personal significance, of personal truth. It is, to put it plainly, the doctrine of non-absolutism.

The concept is most easily explained to westerners via American poet John Godfrey Saxe’s retelling of the classic Indian tale of The Blind Men and the Elephant. Each of the blind scholars understands the reality of the elephant only by the small piece of the beast that he personally experiences. Ere go, each understands the partial truth that is the elephant’s side, tusk, trunk, knee, ear, or tail without ever comprehending that the animal in question is all of these things and more.

Such is the concept that powers the new blog feature that I have elected to call “Your Miles May Vary,” the southern colloquial equivalent of the modern web-speak shorthand YMMV, You Mileage May Vary.

Essentially, I gather a group of different (but intrinsically linked) individuals and ask them all the same question. Then I compile their answers and present them with a little intro and wrap-up commentary of my own. I like the idea because it makes it easier to focus on people in the nerd community that aren’t necessarily involved in the music scene, and it presents a place for differing viewpoints that is neither judgmental nor confrontational.

If we can’t see the whole elephant, at least we can get as many varying views of his unwieldy components as possible.

I elected to focus this initial edition’s question on a matter that has become impossible to ignore: the recent nerd girl explosion that has occurred within popular culture. Everything from the alt-porn industry to the advent of plastic horned-rim glasses as modern chic leads me to believe that the rest of the world has finally realized what we have known for years; geek girls are sexy.

The question that I posed to a distinguished panel of self-professed geeky gals is as follows:

What is the allure of the nerd girl?

The following is their individual responses. Read on as they reconstruct the proverbial pachyderm… piecemeal.


Amy; nerd girl extraordinaireAmy; nerd girl extraordinaire

Well, here is the long and the short of it. The allure of the nerd girl stems from convenience and sexual preference. We are generally smart, shy, and possibly awkward thus making us available and not complete whores. We share common interests with our male nerd counterparts and we conveniently happen to have all the right adapter cables for recreation/procreation. If it were only about common interest and compatibility everyone would just do it up brokeback style and call it good however, as I have noticed from my time on WoW and certain gaming forums there is a great pressure in the nerd community not to be "gay" or a "douche" or being "...a gay douche who probably has sex with his X-box."

Nikki Nefarious; geek girl photographerNikki Nefarious; geek girl photographer

What is the allure of the nerd girl?

I think her “faults” as a nerd girl are the most appealing. Let’s dissect this shall we:

Social-awkwardness – She knows what it’s like to be judged, she won’t do the same to you. Though chiefly shy, she’s easily excited about a subject she is interested in. Blame part of it on her underlying awkwardness and decided lack of a “normal” social filter, the point is she’s won’t let a petty issue, such as worrying over what people will think of her, get in the way of her expressing her natural nerditude. In other words she won’t just sit and look pretty; she will engage you and allow you to be yourself as well.

Braininess – Not all nerd girls have the same nerd. But they pretty much have the same seemingly over-abundant wealth of knowledge about their own particular brand of nerd. This always makes for fun conversation. She’s interesting, she’s insightful, and when you must know when the new Guitar Hero comes out or the name of that guy in that spaceship show, she’s your girl. She offers not just a smiling face, but the cranial fortitude to keep things interesting.

Confidence? – Though typically not a trait associated with those of the “nerd” persuasion, there is a level of “yup, I’m a nerd and damned proud” going on with your modern nerd girl. She may have just come to acceptance of her nerd, or she may have lived through the trials of youth as a nerd. The bottom line is she’s walked the path of the few worthy and gotten to the other side, well equipped with her knowledge of things others may spurn. She knows this, she accepts this, and her horn rimmed glasses displays this with pride. However her confidence isn’t built from the same all-too-intimidating stuff that is evident with your American-beauty, the nerd girl confidence is a deep silent confidence that helps her accept herself and others. What person of intelligence isn’t attracted to confidence?

Fashion – Let’s not forget this part. Gone are the days of the pocket protectors and Band-Aid-repaired gogs. Modern culture, it seems, has fallen in love with the nerd girl. The nerd girl of today fashions herself with her nerd as the centerpiece and inspiration. From an “I blogged your mom” t-shirt to a “Sweet as Pi” hoodie, the nerd girl expresses who she is for all to see. Though the usual garb of the nerd girl is not made to inspire passion or heat the blood of an admirer, it is instead made to attract like-minded others. The, um, l337 few will “get it” and appreciate it while the rest of the world looks on in confusion…which is precisely the point. It’s like a secret club, where you don’t get in based on looks, you get in based on your knowledge and appreciation of the issue. Manolos need not apply.

Nope, the nerd girl of today realizes that though others may spurn them, without nerd efforts those same people would be hard pressed to create the new World of Warcraft patch, or code the new IT system, or even create the fun-filled blog they read to pass their time. Life certainly wouldn’t be as interesting. I think as the world has learned to embrace the nerd it is no longer considered social suicide for an individual to embrace their own nerd as well. This is very important as in years past a beautiful girl might have rejected her nerd out of fear, today girls of all kinds are free to be just as nerdy as they please! Nerd girls, thus, have come into the spotlight with their intelligence, sense of self and their own brand of both inner and outer beauty.

Paige McPaigeface; co-hostess of Just Another Lazy Podcast Paige McPaigeface; co-hostess of Just Another Lazy Podcast

A few days ago our good friend Z left a note on the JALP comment board asking me to help pinpoint exactly what makes a nerdy girl teh sex. After accepting the challenge and finding this cool picture, it dawned on me that I have no clue. So instead of leaving the dear readers of Hipster, Please! high and dry, I intend to give a little rundown on what makes ME so damn sexy, as I am a proud femgeek myself. Enjoy!

1. Low maintenance. I do not require oil changes, fancy schmancy dinners, or expensive presents. Nothing makes me happier than spending a day ridiculing others with my sweety before a night of fast food tacos and whooping his ass at Street Fighter 3.

2. Quirky. I have a bunch of little habits and isms that for some unknown reason people find endearing. Case in point: The laugh. My laugh sounds like a high-speed asthma attack when I find something particularly hilarious, and every time it happens around someone new, they go on about it like it was a divine gift. Weird, huh?

3. Interested in boyfriend's hobbies. Unlike many other women who turn up their noses at computers, comic books and Magic: The Gathering cards, I make a real effort to see exactly what it is that makes them so damn appealing to men. Some things I find I like too (video games, Fables, etc.), and it adds to the stuff we have in common. Even if I can't stand a certain hobby (*cough*Warhammer*cough*), I don't discourage it. Part of the appeal of nerdy boys is that they're nerds - why change that?

4. Caring. Having been lonely and boyfriendless for most of my post-pubescent life, I make damn sure to be the best girlfriend EVER when a potential mate comes my way. I mean, I baked my boyfriend a birthday cake with Ken Masters on it. And frosting is not an easy fucking artist medium. Finding the boundary between awesome and irritating is difficult at times, but I'm pretty good at staying on the right side. Part of the fun of being an awesome girlfriend is that he always wants you around to begin with.

5. Passionate. "Horny" seemed a bit forward. I was in marching band all four years of high school. You learn a few tricks. ;)

There you have it - the basic reasons why McPaigeface is a lady nerd to be worshipped.

Regann; geeky girl writer Regann; geeky girl writer

The allure of the nerd girl is simple: it's the fact that she's so much more. She's smart, she's usually tech savvy, she has a very definitive, very individual presence. Even with "nerd girl" being an umbrella term, no two nerd girls are alike. What they do have in common is their individualism, which guys are learning -- perhaps, slowly! -- is much more attractive than the typical carbon-copy "popular" girl.

Plus, many of the nerd girls' various interests have a tendency to intersect with guys' -- be it music, tech, games or Trek. And what does a boy want or need more than a girl who can understand and appreciate his toys? If you want to see a girl who's not lacking in dates, look for your gamer girl working at the electronics store who can rattle off Wii specs as well as she can her own phone number.

So, the question isn't so much why nerd girls are attractive; it's really the question of why the guys around them are just realizing it. Luck? Great leaps in evolution? Who knows? It's their good fortune, though, because nerd girls are the It of the new millennium. Deservingly so -- they're smart, funny, savvy. Of course, they were the funny, smart and perceptive girls of the last millennium, too, but not everyone has been as perceptive in times past. But it's those characteristics, plus their strong tendency toward independence and individualism that make them so interesting and interested, and finally shows the boys what the real sexy is.


And there you have it: the truth(s) as they see it. There appear to be numerous similarities between the outlooks of our esteemed panel, and even a couple of disparities. This is to be expected, and, on a certain level, encouraged.

I don’t see YMMV being used as a tool to arrive at any manner of consensus. That is not its purpose. It exists purely to allow folks to share their two cents, to let us know what part of the elephant they feel to be the most relevant. (It rhymes because it's fun.)

I would like to take a moment to thank the ladies of the panel for their time, their insight, and their words. Though I’m generally my own worst critic, I feel this edition of YMMV to be a rousing success, and I hope to do more in the future. As always, your questions, comments, and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

I hope you were enlightened and/or entertained by this feature, but I would much rather prefer you walk away with your personal outlook shaken, or, at the very least, challenged. There are, after all, a lot of elephants out there to be groped many more truths to be explored.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pictures and words

Here are two little tidbits – two tiny bits of tid, as it were – that I neglected to mention previously:

Beefy has recently posted a preview of the cover art for his new album Tube Technology (dropping next week). It is a whimsical work by talented webcomic artist Joe Dunn.

The Joe Dunn that loves crappy movies?

Yep. That one.

Also, Seattle’s own Gabriel (and his lovely assistant Syn) have a fresh edition of Nerdcore News available for your viewing pleasure. In this edition, they interview nerdcore/electronica (nerd-tronica?) artist and all around nice guy Oddioblender. The incredibly lazy can view it below.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nerd News in Brief

Now that I have shaken off my Thanksgiving stupor, I’ve elected to drop a little Nerd News in Brief on your collective ass. I’ve got a couple of other projects percolating (namely this month’s blog feature and the penultimate RFH podcast of 2006), so hopefully this’ll keep you entertained until such a time as those are hatched. Hey, I do what I can.

  • In addition to the forthcoming projects from Beefy and Ultraklystron, YTCracker also has a new album dropping in the near future. Nerd Life should be available from the fine folks at Nerdy South Records soon, or, as we say in the actual nerdy south, d’reckly.
  • There’s been a lot of love directed squarely at old Z. of late. In an odd piece of post-modern serendipity, the latest edition of JALP featured an extended segment during which my bro Jones McFly discussed a Hipster, please! blog post about… well… Jones McFly and JALP. It was like the audio equivalent of a form constant. Only warm and fuzzy. By the same token, my Florida home-skillet funky49 recently requested the cacophonous tones of my jarring drawl in a song he was working on. The track (called “Hurricane Love”) could be aptly described as a nerdcore hillbilly sex romp with strong meteorological undertones. I provide the voice of Carl Ray, the congested, disinterested, and totally fictitious weatherman of Virginia’s WHSP.
  • While waiting in line at her local Best Buy to purchase the Nintendo Wii, MC Router decided to amuse herself (and her fellow fanboys/girls) with a little impromptu DDR, some friendly interviews, and even a bit of Emulation Station. The footage itself is a little dark, but it is fun none-the-less.
  • If you (like Router and myself) are one of the lucky ones who currently have a Nintendo Wii in your possession and you’d like to take a picture of said system and its peripherals shoved down your pants, have I got news for you! CAG redgopher is currently soliciting for (non-pornographic) images for a site tentatively called “Wii In My Pants.” You know you want to.
  • In other trouser-related gaming news, Germany has recently launched its first magazine directed specifically at female gamers. The weirdest part is that Play Vanilla is directed at casual female gamers… whom, I can’t imagine, actually need or want a magazine of their own. Step in the right direction or shameless cash-in? You be the judge.

Is that enough nerd news for you? I sure hope so, ‘cause daddy’s tired and needs a nap. I reckon that means said stupor is back on. Such is my cross to bear.