Monday, December 31, 2007

Draw the line

It’s December 31st, ergo I am honor-bound to write a year-end wrap-up post.

I’m serious. It’s blogger law.

Last year around this time I enumerated our many triumphs as well as our missteps of 2006. Moreover, I challenged readers and artists not to focus too much on the uncertain future, but instead to concentrate on the now. I wrote – and it’s always odd when you have to quote yourself – "This is the golden age, and whether we rise or fall, we have this moment. Today we are all stars." I stand by that statement.

But we didn’t fizzle out in 2007. We grew bigger and brighter and we commanded just as much attention as the year prior. Nerdcore hip-hop (as well as many other delicious flavors of nerdy musical goodness) was seen on MTV, written about in Esquire, and even mentioned by the BBC.

mCRT put together the first successful nerdcore-centered festival with Nerdapalooza SE, Beefy became the first 2nd gen nerdcore artists to take the stage at PAX, and mc chris rejected, adopted, and then once again rejected the genre.

It was a big year, and, yes, once again we were stars. But that’s all. We were stars, but stars are very much islands in the sky.

While other nerdy scenes continued to coalesce into communities, nerdcore maintained its status quo as merely warring factions with fragile alliances.

A while back, I received the following communiqué from nerdcore artist Luzid outlining just that:
Yo, Z.

I wanted to ask your opinion on something that's been troubling me recently - the crumbling community that is nerdcore, versus the explosion of the wrock community.

Considering that the entirety of wrock could be absorbed into nerdcore due to its subject matter, it's odd that (at least in my view) the latter has a very thin fanbase and community, while the former seems to be growing in scope. It's particularly telling that wrock is not being held back by its limited vision (i.e. mostly being about Harry Potter), while nerdcore - for all its vast horizons (so many geeky topics) - doesn't feel like a cohesive community.

Your thoughts? Am I just seeing it differently due to not being into the wrock scene?

My (abridged) response was as follows:
Interestingly enough, this is exactly the kind of thing I've been discussing with my two chief conspirators Matt and Church for some time now. Why is it that something as conceptually thin as Wrock manages to flourish while the promise of nerdcore remains mostly unfulfilled? No one can know for sure, but, after weeks (Hell, months!) of deliberation, I think I'm beginning to get down to some glimmer of truth. And I reckon it's pretty simple, now that I spell it out.

In short, Wrockers - both fans and artists - seem to have a genuinely honest interest in community building.

Matt pointed this fact out really early on, but it wasn't until recently that I finally realized that this summation, as simple as it is, is what it all boils down to.

Unfortunately, that leads us to yet another question: why?

Why them and not us? Aren't we all just nerds expressing ourselves musically? Why do those of us on the nerdcore side seem to suffer from this odd disconnect that the Wrockers tend to be able to avoid?

This one's a lot deeper, but I think I have some ideas.

First and foremost, it seems to me that nerdcore fancies itself as being created in a vacuum. From the earliest, we've had artists creating in solitude. MC Frontalot, YTCracker, mc chris, MC Hawking: these cats got their start with very little outside input, with very little outside involvement. It wasn't until Rhyme Torrents (when High-C made a legitimate effort to build bridges) that anyone even considered pinning Front's ample label on all these obviously related artists.

Wrock, on the other hand, got its start with bands. Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, et al are all natural artistic mini-communities in and of themselves. There was already this social aspect to what they were doing. By and large it wasn't one guy in front of a computer; it was a group of friends making music together.

But does that make them instantly more community-minded than nerdcore artists? Not necessarily.

So maybe it's the inherent personalities in question. mc chris is obviously more interested in mc chris as an individual than in mc chris as the de facto spokesperson of a musical community, and that's certainly understandable. Frontalot, though far more personable in this aspect than mc, is really more passive than one might anticipate with regard for nerdcore as a genre. He lets other folks use the term - gladly, I might add - but he has his own livelihood to worry about; this is also perfectly reasonable.

But do these examples speak to our root cause? Let's examine further.

On the other hand we have the bigger names in Wrock: the aforementioned HatP, The Remus Lupins, and The Whomping Willows, just to name a few.

These cats are really down there in the trenches. They seem to speak reverently of Wrock itself, like it's a force greater than the sum of the bands that everyone recognizes. For whatever magical (I made a funny!) reason, these guys see what they're doing as a community effort as opposed to a one-man, or one-act, show.

They are, in short, in it for the team. They - the big guys - are down for the movement.

But again we arrive at that dreaded word: why. What makes what they're doing so different?

Regarding this I also have a rough theory.

What we see from Wrock is, not to put too fine a point on it, an indie spirit. A punk rock spirit.

Maybe it simply has to do with what we do as much as who we are and how we do it. Rap is very often aggressive, confrontational. It thrives on beef and diss tracks. Rock, at least in regard to the truly independent kind, seems less absorbed with such trivialities. That's not to say there's not a fair measure of back-talk and animosity in independent rock circles, a fact to which Nursehella can surely attest, but maybe - just maybe - nerdcore simply inherited a megadose of the get-them-before-they-get-you spirit of hip-hop proper.

In the end, I think that each of these plays a part, but none truly answer the question at hand. Why nerdcore lacks the strength of community that's found in Wrock, or, for that matter, other rather nerdy styles like game rock, micromusic, or bastard pop, is a mystery, but it probably has roots in some combination of the personalities involved and maybe even the actual art created.

Or perhaps it's simpler still. Maybe Wrockers connect on the base level that is a love of the source material itself. Whereas nerdcore has DGs, CS gangstas, comic shop kings, hardcore gamers, and anime enthusiasts, Wrock simply has Wrockers: lovers of the preternatural world that JKR created.

Maybe what nerdcore lacks - or, more likely, simply tends to ignore – is true common ground.
So, while we are stars, we are not constellations. We are disparate yet related. We are similar yet disconnected. What we need, my friends, is lines.

And it wasn’t until I sat down to pin these words that I realized we had found them.

Back in October, news of artist T.Y.T.’s father’s illness began to make the rounds. T.Y.T. wasn’t looking for a handout; he was merely looking to use the skills and avenues he had at his disposal to raise some money to help his father get a liver. And the nerdcore community responded. Everyone from The Awful Show crew to a cavalcade of artists old and new stepped up. And when the topic of a benefit album was broached, no one was concerned about who was or was not nerdcore enough; folks just wanted to help.

On Christmas Eve, just days after receiving his transplant, T.Y.T.’s father passed. I don’t know much in the way of details, and even if I did I wouldn’t share them. A man’s grief is a very personal thing, and I’ll not pretend to understand what he is going through. But this event led to continued outpouring of emotion. Of support. A genuine sense of a community responding to the misfortune of one of its own.

T.Y.T.’s ordeal showed us unequivocally that we could be civil to one another, that we could be supportive and genuinely invested in our community both as artists and as individuals. The trick is remembering that lesson and applying it to our everyday interactions. That's not to say that we can't critique, that we can't, on occasion, clash; that's part of being a community too. It's just saying that maybe we should remember that we have an underlying commonality and use that as a basis for a little mutual respect.

2007 saw some amazing albums. It provided some fantastic gigs and birthed some phenomenal projects. But, in my mind, it will be remembered as the year we came together, if only for a minute and if only under the worst of circumstances.

So pick up a pen and draw some lines, people. They might not fix what’s wrong, but they may just see us through to another year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

New ink and hard-boiled detectives

So inspired was I by today’s release of The Adventure’s of Beef Thompson: Private Dick – an album, coincidentally, that I helped name – that I celebrated the event by getting a tattoo.

Okay, that’s actually bullshit. I mean TAoBT:PD did drop today and I did get this snazzy D20 tat, but these events were linked by nothing more than the silver strings of coincidence.

Josh needs to put up some dishes!Still, many delightful occurrences did conspire to make this day a perfect storm of geeky goodness, and for that I must thank the many fine people who contributed.

Heartfelt thanks to my friend Denika for putting together the original flash for me.

Sincerest appreciation also goes to Hans, a gentleman that is, in my opinion, easily one of the finest and most talented tattoo artists in The Queen City. (He is also likely Charlotte’s tattoo artist that most resembles the cartoon incarnation of Ghostbuster Egon Spengler, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Much love goes out especially to my best friend Josh (A.K.A.: Seamonkey), for giving me the most kick-ass Christmas present ever.

And, of course, I gotta give a shout-out to my boy Beefy for providing the soundtrack to today’s festivities.

If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you download Beef’s latest release immediately. It’s a welcome addition to any collection.

I’d also suggest getting a bold, line-art tattoo that hearkens back to the golden age of tabletop roleplaying. But be forewarned: there is some mild discomfort involved.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The news that was

Okay, why did no one tell me Hipster, please! was mentioned back in April at BBC.CO.UK? I mean, how did I miss that?

Yeah, apparently Collective did a piece on nerdcore and my little blog warranted inclusion. So, y'know, hurray for me... 8 months after the fact. ;)

It sort of makes me wonder what other cool places HP was mentioned, unbeknownst to me and my meager readership.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 37: Geeky Make-out Party

We find ourselves at the end of 2007; all that’s really left to do is roll the credits. And yet, I can’t help but feel like we’ve missed something.

It’s been remarked from every rag looking for a filler story that this was the year of nerd culture. Exhibit A seemed to be the hefty number of nerd-centered television shows that hit the airwaves. Before the writers’ strike, that is.

Closer to home, nerdcore, wrock, and chiptunes also got some great press – and that’s nothing to sneeze at – but it seems like for every complimentary thing said about nerd music there was some journalist, reviewer, or blogger who just didn’t get it.

The funny thing is, that’s okay.

Let us not forget that we are fuckin’ nerds. We’re supposed to be looked down upon, mocked, taken for granted. Our contributions are to be overlooked while news of our failures is almost certain to be exploited. Such is the natural order.

Even if we find ourselves kings of the digital age, many are still apt to pass us by, or much more likely, to greet us with derision.

That’s why we celebrate our own, and this is our party.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 37: Geeky Make-out Party (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 72.6 MB Running Time: 1:19:23

Show Notes

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
It beats the shit out of “Auld Lang Syne.”

Track 1: The Lonely Island – “Ardy Party Remix (Ardy vs. Kid Icarus)
Sandles and socks.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Shut your fuckin’ hillbilly mouth and play us some music.”
The background music for this portion of the show is “Rubber Ducky” by Steve BC.

Track 2: The Grammar Club – “Balloon Flight”
Bremelanotide may well be my pick for album of the year. It’s definitely top three.

Track 3: nYgel – “Def by DJ
This song was set to be the show opener, but I think it works better here.

Track 4: mc chris – “PW/OM” / MDT – “PW/OM (MDT’s Weird House-ish Remix)” / optimiss PW/OM (Optimissmix)
I like all three versions so much that I decided to include a bit of each.

Track 5: Whore Moans – “Mecha Mechanics (feat. MC Frontalot)”
I’ll actually be sharing my impressions of Episode 2: Attack of the Moans in early ’08.

Track 6: The Depreciation Guild – “Butterfly Kisses
I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t discover these cats until recently. Lucky I have GM4A to turn me on to stuff like this!

Track 7: Former Fat Boys – “Melany
Hard Corey is way cooler than Snoop anyway.

Track 8: The Evolution Control Committee – “Conner Likes to Have Sex With Animals” / Go Home Productions – “Gay House
Radio Free Hipster is nothing without quality bastard pop, and these artists easily make some of the best.

Track 9: Luzid – “Rebirthday Bash”
Luzid hipped me to this track right after he put it on his MySpace player, and I instantly loved it.

Track 10: Tom Milsom – “Internet Love Song
Be sure to check out the YouTube video of this cut for the full effect.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “The type of artist that my projects exist to support.”
The BGM for this section is Steve BC’s “imighty1.”

Track 11: DJ Moule – “Positive Walk
This is the only reason you need to join the MashupTown mailing list.

Track 12: Lyrics Born – “Do That There (Young Einsteins Hoo-Hoo Mix)”
Lyric’s Born is the ultimate nerd party hip-hop artist.

Track 13: Schaffer the Darklord – “Nerd Lust”
Schaffer’s Mark of the Beast is another contender for album of the year.

Track 14: T-byte – “so before bills and everything he actually makes like $1,500,000”
I could’ve actually just played Bad Apollo in its entirety and still had an excellent party episode.

Track 15: id obelus – “Rural American Rap”
I recently heard a rumor that id wouldn’t be on the big Mid-west nerd music gig going down next month. I am sorely disappointed.

Track 16: Skankin’ Pickle – “Gates of Steel”
I wanted to include some DEVO, but I felt like this was much more danceable.

Track 17: Talladega Nights dialogue / Buckner and Garcia – “Do the Donkey Kong”
Tom Brokaw is a punk!

Track 18: ZeaLouS1 – “How we /Roll”/ Scrubs dialogue
Z1 recounts a nerd throwdown of epic proportion in this club banger.

Track 19: Elfonso – “Geomancer
Holy fucking shit, I love this track! I’d hazard a guess that there’s nothing else quite like Elfonso in all of nerdy music.

Z’s final interlude: “No better time for me to thank everyone.”
This interlude is backed up by Steve BC’s “Big Thanks.”

Track 20: DJ John – “Teenage Wasteland of 1999 (John’s Overproduced Mix)
I could think of no more fitting track with which to end this year.

You’ll no doubt notice a bit of un-credited tomfoolery at the end of this ep. I reckon some of you will enjoy it (and some will just think it’s gross), but all Beasties fans will no doubt get the joke.

I’ll simply leave it at that and not ruin the surprise, but those of you looking for the full “bit” that birthed this mysterious sample just need to use a little basic Google Fu.

I know I spent a lot of time in the actual podcast saying this, but thanks so much for listening. Without you I’m just some crazy son of a bitch talking to himself, but with your support I am a podcaster. It’s a very fine line.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Xmas miracle

Holy flurking schnit! Yesterday, Hipster, please! got a mention over at Tiny Nibbles for, oddly enough, namedropping Violet Blue in that day’s NNIB. Yes, I am well aware that me referencing Violet referencing me referencing her is kind of meta, but realizing that an actual writer is aware of my existence is easily the best Christmas present I received this year. (Although the slot 1 card my wife got me was pretty boss too.)

Here’s hoping that all of you had an excellent holiday as well!

It's Christmas, bitches!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

My slow and laborious crawl toward C-list Internet stardom made some real inroads this year. I landed feature interviews with My Parents Favorite Music, mc chris, Dan Lamoureux, YTCracker, ZeaLouS1, Random, and Dual Core. I scored countless free CDs and other delightful swag, as well as successfully put together my own compilation album. I, myself, was interviewed by the always entertaining Jason Tanz for Esquire magazine, and just the other day received an early Christmas present – Pac-Man for the Wii Virtual Console – from legitimate Internet celebrity Shael Riley. (Thanks, Shael!)

I am, indeed, moving on up to the East side. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have finally received my piece of the pie-ie-ie-ie-ie-ie.
  • Work in progress: Yesterday, Dan announced that Nerdcore For Life is nearing completion. For real this time. By his estimation, the rough cut of the film should be done by year’s end, with the 90-minute final cut being completed by the end of January. Congrats to the NC4L crew on reaching such a milestone!
  • Unscrewing the Crocs: Earlier this month, employees of The Crocodile Cafe in Seattle were spontaneously informed – via voicemail, no less – that they no longer had jobs. To help offset this shittyness, nerdcore haven and all-around kick-ass venue Chop Suey has joined forces with Three Imaginary Girls to host a benefit for the club’s former workers. The first of these benefits goes down next Sunday, December 30th, with a second show recently added for Friday, January 4th. So head out to Chop Suey, listen to some music, and help a brother out. Thanks to Matt for directing me toward this information.
  • The damnedest places: Matt also hipped to a recent mention of Jaylyn (the former Fanatical) at Relix. Matt says of the magazine, “If you're not familiar with Relix, it started out as basically a zine for deadheads. It covered the Dead and various other 60s groups or groups that had some kind of connection to the Dead. After Jerry died they started covering more of the Jamband scene groups.” Sort of a weird place for Jaylyn to pop up IMHO, but it’s always nice to see her get some press.
  • In ur internets, messin up ur memes: Yesterday, I tried to make a lolcat. I’m pretty sure I failed. I blame Shael.
  • WWHD: In her runner-up featurette for Person of the Year (?!), J.K. Rowling shouts out both the HP Alliance and Wrock in general. I find it comforting that not only are folks using Wrock as platform for social consciousness, but that the author of their ultimate inspiration acknowledges and supports such a movement.
  • The beautiful people: Uber-sex-ay author/educator Violet Blue just released her list of the top ten sexiest geeks of 2007. Coming in at the number 2 spot is our own MC Frontalot, whom Violet describes as “insanely panties-on-the-stage h4wt in his glasses and headlamp and tie.” Also just barely missing inclusion is my girl Nikki Nefarious, known here-abouts as Nikki "Buttnik" Lachen. Congrats to all y'all sexy nerdlingers.
  • The OC: Front also made an appearance in Web comic Over-Compensating a couple weeks back. Is Jeffrey Rowland launching a scathing commentary on the state of nerdcore hip-hop? Well, that or he’s just fuckin’ around.
  • Where is my beautiful (l)ife?: Old school nerd rocker David Byrne wrote an amazingly interesting piece for WIRED (?!) concerning “Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists.” The article breaks down the relative level of consumer spending on digital vs. traditional music media, outlines 6 primary distribution models, and traces the ever-winding path of where your money actually goes when you buy an album from a major label artist. It’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in an insider’s prospective. Further thoughts can be found at Headphone Sacrament.
  • Oh, Christmas Wii: The Former Fat Boys have another mini-film/Christmas video single to help you wile away your days off. This one’s full of Laotians, eyes getting put out, and countless allusions to a certain Macaulay Culkin vehicle. You can check out the vid at YouTube and even download the single for a limited time. Outtakes FTW!
  • Be sure to check the responses: To wrap up what will most likely be my last post before X-mas, let me share with you a little vid that Church turned me on to. I think you’ll dig it as it is uniquely appropriate both for the season and my usual readership.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friends like these

I make no secret that Hipster, please! wouldn’t be possible without the help of a very important group of supporters. Unfortunately, the majority of these men and women live well outside what you’d generally term “driving distance.” So, while I interact with each of them regularly via digital means, I seldom get to see them in real life. Tonight, thankfully, I finally had a chance to meet up with a pair of these fine souls.

Dennis and Denika, that dynamic duo from Vagrant who’ve done so much for me in the way of art for the site and its projects and never asked for a bit of compensation, recently relocated to Orlando, and they just so happened to be heading to Charlotte, NC – my back yard – to visit family this weekend. They actually drove well out of their way to share dinner with me and my fam at one of our favorite dives… er, I mean fine (semi)Japanese eateries. Not only did they trek well into the wilds of upstate South Carolina just to break bread with the Z. clan, but they even picked up the check!

Overcome by the holiday spirit, they also favored each of us with a delightful, handmade gift. My wife, Em, received a beautiful scarf and I added a custom-made ZeaLouS1 zombie to my growing collection of arcane and macabre plushies. Denika even spent her entire drive up here creating a special toy for Li’l X., an adorable robot that I have dubbed the Cuddletron 4000. (He’s the first automaton powered by love, and yes, I am aware that he bears a striking resemblance to the robot – I call him Geekotron 1337 – that Denika included in my new logo image.) And for all their trouble they received from me… a mixtape. Yeah. Pretty underwhelming. I know.

The Internet very often brings out the worst in people. It allows just enough anonymity for douchebaggery to run rampant. And yet, somehow, talented, interesting, genuinely nice people seem to convene here at Hipster, please! More than anything else I may have accomplished through my various hair-brained ventures, this is the thing I’m the most proud of; I’ve managed to carve out a tiny niche in which a few truly great people share their outlooks and ideas and talents.

I reckon I can sum the breadth of this post up in one simple declaration: Christmas is a time for friends, and mine are pretty kick-ass.

Also, Cuddletron 4000 needs your hugs. They are his food.

Love me!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Serious Fun

Nerdcore hip-hop is sort of an uneven medium, with an imprecise history that is only now being recorded. I’ve remarked before that nerdcore can be viewed – much like ska – in waves.

From as far back as Paul Barman brought his smart, sarcastic rhymes to the underground and Commodore 64 waxed poetic about their collective social inadequacies and overall dorkiness, the concept of nerd-as-rapper has taken many forms. Artists like MC Frontalot, who coined the phrase, MC Hawking, and Optimus Rhyme inspired not only a (somewhat) cohesive genre, but also helped to spark the musical arm of the current geek cultural revolution with the first legitimate wave of nerdcore.

Inspired by acts like Front and Optimus, artists like Beefy and Ultraklystron came together under the banner of nerdcore in the early days of the Rhyme Torrents project. And these second generation artists helped to bring many of the current crop of post-Rhyme Torrents MCs into the fold.

But even this is only half the story.

Behind each wave of rappers there are producers, DJs, support musicians, helpful friends. Those who craft beats and cobble together musical accompaniment are just as important to the nerdcore community as those who rock rhymes, but they seldom get the same level of press or praise.

One such artist is Tanner Brown, known to most as T-byte. Sandwiched in the middle ground between established names like Baddd Spellah and up-and-comers like nYgel, Tanner is very much the middle child of nerdcore hip-hop. He works just as hard as his fellows. He has just as impressive a list of collaborators and is just as creatively inclined. And yet you seldom, if ever, hear his name outside of the immediate community, and that’s a damn shame.

Motivated by the old adage that change begins at home, I sought to rectify this problem to the best of my meager abilities by taking some time to get to know Tanner. In the interview that followed, we talked about his musical pedigree, the recent success of his mash-up album Bad Apollo, and overall musical nerdiness. But mostly we had fun.


You make music under many names: Tanner4105, T-Byte, yatexas, and filipe bacon, just to name a few. Are these names interchangeable or do each of these "characters" make music within certain style constraints?

T-byte and mc chris.Haha! Well I guess my last album was a little confusing; yatexas is actually my friend's screenname but edited. The (Bad Appolo) album's tracklist is a chat-log between me and him on AIM. Felipe Bacon is my AIM screen name, but I've never made music under that name really; I just use because I registered it a while back. I mainly make music under T-Byte or tanner4105. T-Byte is the name I mainly use for nerdcore-type stuff and tanner4105 is everything else, but I also use Tanner Brown, which is my real name.

Ah, that makes a bit more sense. :)

You're probably best known as one half of nerdcore hip-hop duo 1337 g33k b3at. How did you come to work with MC Router?

We started out as friends in high school and then she joined me and my friend's band Cowsponge. But back to Router, after she left Cowsponge we didn’t really talk a lot until a couple of years ago, then I got her interested in hip hop and it just kinda happened. She goes by MC Router now and not 1337 g33k b3at, but that was a decision we both made since she doesn't just use my beats anymore.

Uh… what, exactly, is a Cowsponge?

It's a band me and my friend Aaron started in high school. We started out just making some songs where we just came up with a bunch of random stuff off the top of our heads. Now it's more organized and we're trying to finish an album, even though we live about 90 miles away from each other. We just send each other stuff online and kinda build upon it, but it's become a very long process. Check out our MySpace if you wanna hear some stuff, and, if you wanna see more on our history, our old bassist made a documentary about the band. And this is also a good video to check out if you wanna see what me and Aaron are like in the "studio"

You work in a myriad of musical styles from rap to mash-ups to punk rock. Is there an underlying theme or concept, some unseen common thread, that ties these disparate projects together?

Not really, besides just having fun with it. I like making all types of music (obviously) but I just always try and have fun. If I'm ever working on something and I'm just sitting there racking my brain on how it could be better, that's when I know I'm trying too hard and it's time to stop until I can come back to it later and not be so intense about it. It's only happened a few times, but every time I realized that if I try and finish a project and I'm not having fun with it, the result is awful.

That’s a pretty profound statement, and one that I think most musicians would do well to remember. Do you think that’s what draws people to your music? Do you think that the fact that you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing shines through?

It's possible, because I think I can tell whether or not a band is in it for the money or if they're in it for fun when I hear an album. For example, a band like Simple Plan: the music and lyrics are just so awfully generic it's hard to listen to unless you're a 14-year-old girl who doesn't know anything about music. When I listen to a band like They Might Be Giants, I feel they are doing it because they just love making music. That’s a band that’s been doing it for over 20 years, and they keep on doing it even if they aren't selling out huge, 20,000 seat stadiums.

How long have you been making music, and where did you get your start?

Since 2002 or 2003, and that was with Cowsponge. Me and Aaron learned everything about music together and that's why we can jam so well together and just have a great time making songs.

Your most recent mash-up collection, the very eclectic Bad Apollo – I'm a Burning Fart IV – Volume Two No Butts for LMAO, was a runaway success. Were you expecting the album to get such a warm reception?

Bad ApolloNot at all. I sent it to some friends in an IRC channel (PPP, what up!) and as a joke they suggested I post it in GBS on the Something Awful forums. I was expecting people to hate it, but it was really the exact opposite.

I think the artwork for the “cover” helped too. I pitched an idea to my cousin Liza and she made my dream a reality.

Do you have plans for a follow-up?

Absolutely, but I just started working and have school too, so I haven't had a ton of time to work on it. I've got about 4 or 5 finished songs for it, but my goal is 15 at least. Over winter break I'm sure I'll finish it, so I'm excited about that. It's just getting hard to find different stuff to throw in since I used about 57 different songs on my last album and it's only 25 minutes long. Here's a sneak peak at the next album. I'm not sure if I'm gonna have a theme for the track listing this time or not.

In addition to 1GB, your solo work, and projects like Cowsponge, you also do a lot of production within the nerdcore community – specifically with Nerdy South artists YTCracker and Beefy. Who else have you worked with?

I helped a friend mix an album that we just finished a couple weeks ago; you can listen to his stuff at his MySpace. I added a second guitar, bass, and programmed drums for the song “The Fallout” on that page. I'm really excited about how that track turned out, and we're gonna work together in the future for sure. I'm also recording a guy from school right now, but I don't have a link for his stuff.

Are there any other artists or groups with which you'd like to collaborate?

I'm willing to work with anyone. I love collaborating with people and trying new styles of music. Hit me up, y’all!

Your music incorporates everything from pitch-altered samples to live instrumentation. How do you go about piecing your tracks together?

When I'm making mash-ups, I find a song I like. Then, most of the time, I think of what other songs sound similar to it, or try to throw in a beat over it to change it up a little. Sometimes it'll be trial and error when I can't think of anything and I'll just go through 5 or so songs until I hit gold. When I'm recording Cowsponge stuff, me and Aaron will usually just jam until we come up with something that sounds good, and then record a demo, and turn that into a full song. When I'm recording a live band, we'll lay down the drum tracks, then go with guitar or bass, and then vocals, and then add whatever else they want to. If I'm making a beat I start with the drums/percussion tracks as well, then jam on my piano until I find something I like.

Personally, I've always seen bastard pop like mash-ups and cut-ups as uniquely geeky music. What are your thoughts on mash-ups as an extension of nerd culture?

I think that most everyone likes mash-ups or remixes or whatever you wanna call it. I saw Girl Talk live a couple weeks ago and there were nerds and college frat guys and sorority girls in the audience. It was a beautiful time. I'd say it's an extension of nerd culture but really, all types of people are into it and it's just fun party music. I get a little nerdy with my stuff though. The first track after the intro (on Bad Appolo) has a Pokemon album sample.

I remember that. It was an interesting place to start.

Who are your musical influences?

That's hard to say. I feel like I'm influenced a little by every band I listen to. Spoon, They Might Be Giants, Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, Slipknot, Cake, CKY, Franz Ferdinand, and more! I feel influenced at least a little bit by everything.

Are you also influenced by music you don’t like? Is there ever a song or artist that you hear that demonstrates what not to do musically?

Not really. When I hear a song that is horrible I just have to stop listening and clear my mind with something good. Kinda like how the first time someone showed me 2girls1cup I just had to watch normal porn immediately afterwards. Haha!

I've already made numerous allusions to the fact that you, as an artist, have your hands in many different styles of music. Is there a particular genre that you feel most comfortable working with?

I'd have to say my home is just plain old rock. That's what I grew up with, and that's what Cowsponge started with. It's just in my blood.

Do you consider yourself more a DJ, a producer, a beatsmith, a musician, a songwriter, or some combination of several of these elements?

I won't consider myself a real producer until I learn a lot more about music theory; that term gets thrown around too much. If I were calling myself a DJ I should probably be spinning songs at a club. I think musician works well.

What kind of nerd is T-Byte?

I'd have to say music and computer. My dad brought home our first computer when I was two, and I went to my first concert when I was 5. (It was Steve Miller Band). I can't say videogame nerd because I only have one game installed on my computer right now and that's Counter Strike Source, and I only play that when the people from PPP (What up again!) are on, but I have played quite a few games in the past.Tanner in action.
You’re really starting to gather quite a following, what with the success of Bad Apollo and your work within nerdcore hip-hop circles. As being an independent musician is a daunting and very often frustrating task, what would be one piece of advice you’d give other artists?

Keep going, and don't give up if you really want to do it. If you just wanna make a quick buck, forget about it. If you wanna build a career from music, just keep at it. It takes a long time, but once you start getting really good at what you wanna do and you've been around for a few years, it'll start to show that you're serious.


When I first listened to Bad Apollo, I was immediately struck with one thought. The album, from start to finish, sounded almost effortless. That’s not to say that the remixes seemed half-finished or of poor quality, in fact the release is solidly my favorite bastard pop album of 2007. What I’m getting at is that each track seemed so expertly crafted as to sound natural, unforced.

My curiosity piqued, I laboriously scoured my (admittedly expansive) music collection for other projects involving T-byte. I found, of course, his early tracks with Router, his work with YTCracker, and a number of recent songs with Beefy. The commonality between each of these – between works as disparate as “Hutzumi” and “You Can Call Me Beef” – was obvious; it was that same sense of grace and movement.

Tanner may consider himself a musician, but in my mind he will always be a songwriter. Whether he’s belting out a punk rock Christmas track with Cowsponge or mashing up The Beatles and Randy Savage, his songs always sound pure, honest, and surprisingly organic. While so much of remixing and production is trying to find the right place to put the wrong sound, Tanner always manages to craft a cohesive whole rather than a simple collection of forced-together parts. Whether rock or electronica, there’s no doubt that what T-byte creates are distinct, attractive, interesting songs. While others see music as a science or an art, he approaches the craft as an exercise as natural as breathing.

Music’s where he lives and music’s how he communicates.

And the fun that he’s having really does shine through.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

Anyone with reproductive organs and an interminable need to seem profound is apt to tell you that having kids changes you. This is, of course, true, as I, a breeder, can attest. But what these arm chair philosophers don’t tell you is how having children changes you.

While I can’t speak for the whole of humanity, I can tell you in which magical and oh-so subtle ways fatherhood transformed me. In short, it made me a pussy.

Within weeks of Li’l X’s, birth I found my CD collection suddenly home to a warren of proto-shoegazer wimp pop (most of the Cure and early Smiths variety). I’m not sure how it got there, but I confess that I was singing him to sleep with “Ask” before we’d had him home a week.

Considering that our second child is on the way, I can’t help but wonder if my continued pussification will be incremental or exponential. As this one’s a girl, I fear the worse.
  • A fighting chance: This week marks the release of New Liver, New Life: The Tim Jackson Liver Fund. This disk is a labor of love from the folks at the Rhyme Torrents community that exists purely to help generate more money for T.Y.T.’s father’s forthcoming organ transplant. It features id obelus, funky49, LogicOne, Myf, and scores of other talented artists, and, at fifteen bucks, it’s both a wise investment and a charitable contribution.
  • I love that line: Speaking of id, here are a couple of reviews of his latest release flyourfavorite. Exclaim! and Insomniac Magazine both have really nice things to say about the album, and I can’t help but concur.
  • These ill-bred people's gillslits showed: In his continuing mission to delight (and confuse) me, Church found this sample track from the H.P. Lovecraft-themed holiday album A Very Scary Solstice. It’s a keeper. (Look, ma, I made a fish-people pun!)
  • The Young Stunna: T-byte recently dropped some demos over at RT that you must check out. The first is a phenomenal live set he’s working on, with perhaps the greatest lead-in in the history of live music. The second is a mash that incorporates the themes from both Doug and Growing Pains. Tanner is your master now.
  • Don’t say anything!: T-byte isn’t the only nerdy producer with new teaser tracks out this week. killsaly also dropped this little jewel that takes his eerie, surreal sound the next level. Download “Look At Me” to understand what, exactly, I’m talking about.
  • Super-Ultra: Since his regular host is currently down, Ultraklystron has thrown a couple of hot new tracks on his MySpace player. Head over to his profile to peep “Duplicate” and “Fashionable.” Then, immediately thereafter, go buy his new album.
  • The wrath of Mallow: I recently received word from my man Anthony from Game Music 4 All that’s he’s putting together a vanity project of sorts. Anyone who’s ever exchanged more than a couple words with Anthony knows of his deep affection for Super Mario RPG, and, in celebration of that epic title, he’s currently soliciting submissions for the Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Compilation. Several high-profile VGM acts have already signed up and space is limited, but I happen to know he’s quite interested in getting some hip-hop on there as well. If you’re a fan of the title and think you have what it takes to make the cut, check out the GM4A MySpace for details.
  • On pirate satellite: Five years ago this Monday, the world lost, perhaps, the greatest songwriter of my lifetime and I lost my first musical hero. To commemorate the life and music of Joe Strummer, Tim from the Radio Clash podcast has assembled This One’s for Joe, an amazing collection of tracks from the bastard pop community that celebrate Strummer’s legacy. With contributions from Celebrity Murder Party, World Famous Audio Hacker, and, of course, Instamatic, this one is not to be missed!
  • She’s a pinball wizard: Rather than leave you with another seasonal vid, today I’ll wrap things up with the latest submission from our friends at PBC Productions. Here’s the first part of a two-part episode of Little Miss Gamer in which Z learns the finer points of pinball, as well as a little history lesson. Just because we’ve all ceased working in anticipation of the looming holidays is no need to stop learning!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I before E

The rubric that I follow to determine which albums I share my impressions of is complex to the point of ultimate convolution. Like the dance of the honey bee, it is a strange and mysterious phenomenon that not even I totally understand.

Still, I awoke last week to find I had – almost subconsciously, mind you – left one final review slot open for this year, and that was for the debut album from nerdcore supergroup The Grammar Club.

Of course, being that I am what may easily be called “chummy” with 80% of the group, I felt it in my best interest to take a very hardline stance concerning their assessment. I vowed to be relentless, an unshakable force of journalistic integrity, a surgeon of criticism who would excise the respect and warm feelings that I have for these gents and coldly cut to the very artistic core of their endeavor.

And yet, even after detaching myself from the individuals involved, I couldn’t seem to find any legitimate flaws of note within Bremelanotide. And with that, my dreams of launching a scathing critique of the album were crushed. Even from the most objective of viewpoints, The Grammar Club has created a musical tour de force that both amuses and entertains.

So please, continue reading. In the meantime, I’ll be in the corner. Nursing my man-crush.
  1. “Balloon Flight”: The first-song-on-an-album concept used to be an institution; it was where a group or musician came out guns-a-blazin’ and grabbed you by the eardrums. Are You Experienced lead off with “Purple Haze.” Rush’s Moving Pictures started with “Tom Sawyer.” Shit, Straight Outta Compton kicked off with the title track, and didn’t really let up until half-way through the album. Still, modern musicians (on both the rock and hip-hop sides of the fence) seem to have abandoned this concept in favor of the slow burn, either starting with a short filler song or, worse yet, with an intro track simply dubbed “Intro.” The Grammar Club, however, decided to start on a high note, and “Balloon Fight” is easily the best track 1 of the year. It teases you for ten seconds or so with a few heavily-compressed, chippy bars, and then explodes into a bit-pop masterpiece. Beefy and Shael boast phenomenal vocal interplay that is only outdone by their understated harmony. Sharp (if only occasional) scratching from Snyder and moving instrumentation from Adam and Glenn make this track instantly memorable.
  2. “Bank Holiday”: The closest thing to a disappointment on this album is “Bank Holiday.” It’s not that the song is a letdown, mind you. In fact it’s quite the opposite, but as competent and dynamic as this track is, with Shael’s creepy and commanding vocals, its hooky guitar lead, and a beat that’s anything but traditional, the truth is I’ve already heard it. It’s wrong to deduct points for something as arbitrary as that, mind you, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that this track is different enough from the version offered in the band’s premiere video to keep you interested, with various musical tweaks, the addition of Snyder’s contribution behind Beefy’s verse, and Glenn’s double-time rhyming – my favorite part – much more texturally appealing in this final mix. If you enjoyed the song its first time around you’ll no doubt dig this one even more, but, for me, it was more a calming repose in familiar territory before journeying farther into the unknown.
  3. “Girl Trouble”: The album thus far has played delicately with aural combinations and subtle layering, so when “Girl Trouble” charges ahead behind DJ Snyder’s commanding scratching it’s a little hard not to be startled. It is equally hard not to bob your fuckin’ head. Beefy’s almost monotone rhymes and the subtle key trains that back it up lead you into the groove, and then Shael’s pitch-perfect 80’s synth-pop chorus ensures you stay there. Glenn Case makes another unscheduled appearance on the third verse, which bisects the song nicely and leads to more of Shael’s savvy vocal pop in the bridge. All the boys really bring it on this one, and, try as I might, even I can’t find anything to bitch about.
  4. “Heart Tits”: Musically, this track is a bit similar to “Girl Trouble,” and I’d have no trouble believing that this was by design. Shael’s vocals are knowingly repetitive and at times intentionally strained, while Beefy’s rhymes are both quicker and a bit higher than most might expect. The instrumentation relies heavily on a bass line that is no more or less “fat” than necessary (Glenn, is that you?), and that, combined with Beefy’s brief question-and-answer delivery and the song’s undeniably ingenious title/concept, make this a geek rock classic.
  5. “My Gay Shirt”: Is it wrong that, from the intro, I expected this to be a cover of Quiet Riot’s cover of Slade’s seminal rock anthem “Cum on Feel the Noize?” It wasn’t, and I’m totally cool with that, but I’m just sayin’. A mid-tempo rocker that manages to integrate a ridiculously speedy synthy-chippy hook, “My Gay Shirt” also boasts some really fun guitar accompaniment. (With licks that hit on the “upbeat” for half the verse, giving it almost a ska-core feel.) Lyrically, this one is well-written, but a bit drier than the rest of the album. Still, if you find Shael and Beefy aren’t doing it for you, there’s more than enough going on in the instrumentation to keep you interested. On a personal note, Shael’s laboriously detailed description of the shirt alone makes me lament the fact that he doesn’t do more rapping.
  6. “Post-Collegiate Shuffle”: Nothing strikes a chord with me quite like a meditation on the generally fruitless nature of higher education. In an album full of tits and professional wrestling, a semi-serious track like this may leave a bad taste in the mouths of some fans, but I have to say that this was a really unexpected surprise that I genuinely believe deepens the overall project. Shael Riley has this uncanny ability to sound emotionally vested in even the most ludicrous subjects, and it’s nice to hear him leverage that to a topic relevant to many of his listeners (even if I do generally prefer him waxing poetic about the surreal and hypersexual.) The musical changeup that accompanies Beefy’s vocal contribution is every bit as biting as his lyrics, and, for some strange reason, puts me immediately in mind of the music from the Castlevania series. With everyone handling production duties I’m a little unsure whose hand to shake on this, but the subtle way the song degrades and gradually trails off at the end was a brilliant choice both mechanically and thematically.
  7. “Alternate Ending”: Again, Shael and company remind us that there’s more to The Grammar Club than dry-cleaning, animal husbandry, and dick jokes. The marriage of Snyder’s scratching and the intro beat strikes me as a bit odd as the music swells and then recedes, but it works, and Shael’s delicate, almost pained vocalizing fits perfectly. Beefy’s rhymes start a little shaky, but he manages to pull it together despite the fact that he is, quite literally, rapping a goddamn waltz! Wait, is that Bach?! Funny and touching on the lyrical front and impeccably orchestrated, “Alternate Ending” is the most unexpectedly beautiful song I’ve heard in ages.
When you put a team of brilliant artists together, often the musical yield is far less intense than one might expect. Perhaps this is due to an inherent clash of egos. Maybe it’s simply that, with so many brilliant ideas generated, some of the best are lost to the artistic ether. Hell, it could be just because they try and save all the really good tracks for their individual efforts.

But sometimes, a team of solo artists are able to come together and make something that is – at the risk of sounding contrived – greater than the sum of its parts.

The Grammar Club is the nerd world’s answer to the Traveling Wilburys, taking the best of what each contributor has to offer and supplementing it with the kind of musical magic that can only happen when all parties involved have a deep, genuine respect for each other’s ideas and abilities. (The ‘Club is, of course, both more handsome and more alive than the Wilbury’s, but that’s neither here nor there.)

The point I’m trying to make is that Bremelanotide is an album I came away from with but two regrets. The first is that, unlike his bandmates, I don’t know guitarist/producer Adam, so I can’t tell him personally what a truly inspiring experience listening to this project really was. And secondly, it was just over too soon; I could've easily done with another 7 tracks of this caliber.

While no album is perfect, this one is so expertly crafted that even my nitpicky ass couldn’t find a flaw worth exploiting. Each contributor not only pulled his own weight, but obviously inspired those around him to expand the scope of their musicality. That being said, there’s no reason this one shouldn’t make its way into your collection.

As the final days of 2007 tick away, you owe it to yourself to experience one of the best albums of the year. Take a listen and spread the word.

“Ghost brontosauruses sung out in chorus sayin’, ‘Son, what am I s’posed to do?’”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 36: Oh, Holy Shite!

Season’s greetings from Hipster, please!

Yeah, you heard me; I’m greeting you for the whole damn season! So don’t expect further greeting until… Spring? Whatever.

This year’s holiday episode is a little light on the hip-hop, but that’s only because I wanted to make extra room for some of that super-geeky rock that I’ve been neglecting of late. I did a fine job choosing the handful of rap songs that did make the cut, though, if I do say so myself.

You also get some nice mash-ups and remixes, which I think make for a pretty good variety. Just think of this as a little musical stocking stuffer from your old pal Z.

Now break out the eggnog and enjoy the show!

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 36: Oh, Holy Shite! [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 47.3 MB Running Time 51:42

Show Notes

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
The RFH theme is the gift that keeps on giving.

Track 1: Christmas in the Stars – “What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)”
Like I said: a bowcaster.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Well, I’ll be damned, I got it right that time!”
With no more than I have to remember on a daily basis, you’d think I could keep my episode numbers straight!

Track 2: RUN DMC – “Christmas in Hollis”
“But each and every year we bust Christmas carols.”

Track 3: Cale Parks – “Drummer Boy (Kingston Edit)” / Peter Griffin dialogue / DJ Flack “Hanukkah in Dub”
Man, Hanukkah came early this year!

Track 4: mc chris – “Evergreen”
Everyone loves a Christmas song about getting high, right?

Track 5: id obelus – “1991 1987
id gets a lot of comparisons to mc chris, but I don’t really get it. I mean, sure they’re white rappers with high voices and an obvious lack of capitalization, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

Track 6: Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg – “Dick in a Box”
Let’s be honest here; you all knew I was gonna play this.

Track 7: Loo and Placido – “Horny Christmas
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and head over to L&P’s for some more mash-up goodness.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “A thing of beauty.”
This year’s Santastic comp is just as good as the previous two. Download it or I’ll eviscerate an elf.

Track 8: The Parselmouths – “Voldy Baby
Yeah, I’m still thinking this song sounds kinda dirty.

Track 9: DJ C – “Jungle Bells” / Talladega Nights dialogue
We need more jungle. It’s one of the few things from the 1990’s I actually miss.

Track 10: Former Fat Boys – “I Want It (Gimme, Gimme) ((Toys))
FFB and id obelis will be playing a big show in Indiana early next year with a number of other geeky rockers and hip-hoppers. I reckon it’ll be a helluva show.

Track 11: Friendly Foes – “The Ghost of Christmas Soul
This is probably my favorite track from the Suburban Sprawl Xmas 2007 comp.

Track 12: The One-Ups – “Super Mario’s Sleigh Ride”
The One-Ups play a unique brand of VGM that I find really refreshing. I’d go so far as to say they set the bar for jazz-based videogame music.

Track 13: Cowsponge – “Christmas in the Future”
I had a hard time picking just one track to play from the Cowsponge Christmas album. Download the whole thing to hear what you missed.

Z’s final interlude: “Some trains you just gotta ride out.”
I made it a point not to edit down any of the songs I played in this episode, as the year-end show’s playlist has already begun to swell and I know I’m gonna have to pare tracks down for it.

Track 14: The Mudbloods – “An Epic Christmas Tale, Chapter One: How the Thestrals Saved Christmas
This tracks a little loose, with regard to recording quality, but I dig the Arlo Guthrie feel of it. I hope you do too.

Each year there seems to be more and more seasonal compilations and projects, and that’s quite a boon for me. The only problem is figuring out which tracks to include I this podcast.

I’ve one more episode to go in 2007, and I think it’s gonna be a fun one. Meet me back in a couple of weeks to hear for yourself. In the meantime, happy shopping and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Of site redesigns, podcasts, and kids

Last year around this time, I began posting about the kinds of things I’d like to see from the nerd music community in 2007. Without dwelling too much on whether or not my exercise in wishful thinking and prognostication was effective, today I’d simply like to use that as more of a jumping-off point. Last time around, I spent many-a word enumerating what I’d like to see from you in the coming year, but today I’d like to tell you a bit of what you can expect from me both in the waning weeks of ’07 and in the early months of ’08.

First and foremost, you can expect a site redesign. Assuming you’re reading this yourself – as opposed to, say, someone relating it to you via telephone – you’ve already noticed that things look a bit different. As, Hipster, please! has pretty much looked the same from its inception, I felt it was time to switch shit up a bit. The new layout boasts not only a new color scheme and a swanky new logo courtesy of my friend Denika, but also some bells and whistles. I’ve dropped an abridged version of the feed for RFH right into the sidebar, and I’ve also enabled Digg buttons for each individual post. (That’s not to say I’m gonna beg you to subscribe to the podcast or Digg what you read here, but the options are there should you feel so moved.)

Unfortunately, this changeover hasn’t been without its hiccups. My grand new logo, for example, seems to want to display 25% smaller than it should despite my best efforts to rectify that, and the Sites and Sounds links are, as always, in constant flux. I reckon what I’m saying is this is a work in progress. Don’t freak out too much if things change from day to day for the next few weeks, and feel free to hit me up with any suggestions.

On the subject of the podcast, you’ll notice that the full back catalog of Radio Free Hipster episodes is now available through the feed. Well, except for episode 12, but even that elusive bastard has been recovered (Thanks, Church!), and it should be in there tomorrow. Let me warn you, though, that the first few eps are dreadful, production-wise, but most of you old schoolers doubtlessly remember that.

Concerning more tangible issues, you should get two more podcasts this year. The holiday-themed ep will, hopefully, be up tomorrow, and the year-end wrap-up should drop shortly thereafter. I’ve also got another feature interview and a final set of album impressions that should trickle out this December as well.

Next year – probably around late February – I’m hoping to drop a second Hipster, please! compilation. This one will be vastly different than the last, and, though I can’t divulge all my secrets, I will make it a point to leak the occasional nugget of info as the release draws nigh.

I’m hoping this comp will really blow folks away, as I anticipate a pretty sharp drop-off in my productivity come March. This is due to the pending arrival of a new baby in the Z. family. Yes, Li’l X. will have a baby sister, and Em and I will have another mouth to feed/arse to wipe. Truthfully, I’m pretty excited, despite the fact that my childrearing skills are rudimentary at best. I can’t fully anticipate how much this new bundle of joy will affect my writing schedule, but I suppose posts will be few and far-between for a while there, so be forewarned.

In the meantime, feel free to poke around the new digs. Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge and don’t sweat putting your feet on the sofa. This will be the shape of HP for the foreseeable future, so it’s best if we all break it in as quick as possible. And if you hear any hammering, that’s just me trying to gussy the joint up a bit more.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

So, Ike Turner died this week. That ain’t exactly what you’d call nerdy, but it’s topical and relevant in a roundabout way.

Ike, you see, was very much a musical visionary. As Matt was quick to point out, Ike Turner actually co-wrote “Rocket 88,” a track that most music historians agree to be the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song.

Of course, he was also a womanizer, an abusive alcoholic, and a drug addict: not exactly the kind of cat you want to look up to, despite his musical prowess.

If nothing else, I reckon Ike reminds us that sometimes amazing art comes from near-despicable people. And whether you're willing to appreciate the former while abhorring the latter is a matter of personal preference, a delicate tightrope walk that some simply choose to avoid.

  • Special E.D.: At long last, the debut album from dorky supergroup The Grammar Club has been released. Bremelanotide is now available for free download, and, honestly, I’m already starting to feel a little aroused. You know what to do.
  • /spit: In other nerdcore side-project news, MCs Super Dragon X and ZeaLouS1 recently announced a new album entitled Epic Dropz: The Warsong Chronicles slated to drop in early ’08. The release will focus solely on World of Warcraft, and Machinima directors are preemptively encouraged to make companion videos once tracks begin to surface.
  • “Of course I'm as good as I say I am.”: Jesse Dangerously was recently interviewed by Canadian music/culture supersite Urbnet. Therein Jesse waxes philosophical about writing his first rap, the use of boastful hyperbole, and the results of his “Outfox’d” challenge. As expected, this is a must-read for nerds and heads alike.
  • Superdeformed: It’s official; both Random and Maja will be appearing at Anime Los Angeles. Straight from the horse’s mouth, “Ran and Maja will be performing 2 sets, on Saturday January 5, 2008 (time TBA) and Sunday January 6, 2008 (tentatively 12:30PM).” If you aren’t excited, I kindly suggest you check your pulse.
  • If only we were cool too: Matt just pointed me toward this Pitchfork piece concerning the new Wrock compilation Rocking Out Against Voldemedia, an album centered on creating awareness concerning the dangers of media consolidation. It’s condescending and snarky – it is Pitchfork, after all – but at least it’s some press. Make sure to download the disk, if you haven’t already.
  • A place where we belong: Church also came through with some interesting Wrock info this week when he pointed me toward this Wizard Wrock ethnography. It’s a really amazing write-up that reminds me of how much better this blog would be if I actually did some damn research!
  • Double Trouble: Recently the stars aligned and MC Router and the ultimate blogger nerd-girl, The Game Dame, joined forces for a night of carousing in Dallas. What exactly went down? How much PBR was consumed? Will the world ever be the same? Read on to find out.
  • As in, how do you make a?: There was a time when I spent most of my time scouring the Interwebz for new and exciting artists to enjoy. Now, for better or for worse, I spend most of my time writing, but, thankfully, artists have finally started to find me. I recently received a very pleasant email from rapper Whore Moans concerning his new release Episode II: Attack of the Moans. I checked out some of the preview tracks and was wholly blown away. Peep his profile for a little taste of what’s in store (and ordering information for those of you savvy enough to be early adopters).
  • Happy Birthday, C64!: Earlier this week I also received a nice message from Jason Tanz concerning some never-before-released tracks from his from his old outfit Commodore 64 that had just been posted over at Wired. For those of you not in the know, C64 was what I like to term a proto-nerdcore group, a fun, kind of silly, and undeniably nerdy rap crew from the late 1990’s. You can check out some tracks from the band’s unreleased follow-up Puberty right here.
  • Addendum: Let me also take a moment to congratulate Jason on his new position as Senior Editor at Wired magazine. Yes, yes, I know Wired is the butt of about half my jokes, but I’m honestly being nice here. If you’ve ever read any of his previous work or had any kind of interaction at all with Mr. Tanz, I’m sure you already know that he’s a thoughtful, down-to-earth cat, who’s got a genuine love for both music and the written word.
  • They are Christmas: Glenn Case also sent me a link this week to a project from one of his co-workers called the Golden Flamers. Glenn told me that they had “managed to create one of the silliest Christmas albums I have ever heard,” and I can’t help but agree. Hit the link for the only album of the season to feature a track in which Santa gets into a knife fight.
  • The recipe for disaster: This one’s been around for more than a month, but I just keep forgetting to talk about it. Those of you who haven’t caught this already, please enjoy the video for the third single from MC Frontalot’s Secrets From the Future. Those of you who have, please enjoy it again… for the first time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

This edition of NNIB finds itself a bit tardy because I have, once again, been sick. Such is the glory of parenthood; there’s always some exciting new pathogen making its rounds through the local schools and daycares, and it just can't wait to get home and nestle in the cozy innards of the rents.

Still, it did give me another chance to catch up on my movie viewing. This time around I watched Fido. It’s got Billy Connolly. And it’s about zombies. In an alternate 1950’s timeline. And Carrie-Anne Moss, probably for the first time in her career, doesn’t look severely anemic.

What I’m saying is you should totally put that shit in your Netflix queue.

  • I come from a land downunder: Church found this very interesting piece from Australia’s The Age about the modern nerd and his importance in the overall societal framework. See? We’re fun and functional.
  • The Spellah speaks: After the questions began to arise surrounding Baddd Spellah’s recent Inkling interview, I sought answers from the man himself. He was happy to tell me that MC Jomega is a new artist that came to nerdcore rap via the BC rave scene. BS goes went to say, “She was MCing at a local open-mic night that my friends' hosted. They got to talking and by turns she revealed being a fan of Frontalot; my friends said they knew me and we ended up trying out a recording session.” And so another nerd rap she-challenger appears from the northwest!
  • Bigger=Better: Not content with the regular year-end Top 10 list, my boy Hex Warrior has decided to list 2007's top 100 nerdy artists. Last week he unveiled numbers 100 – 71, including everyone from mCRT to DJ Snyder to my man Glenn Case. Keep an eye on Hex’s MySpace blog for further developments.
  • Color me excited: Not sure if anyone will flip the fuck out over this other than me, but LogicOne recently mentioned that he and Id Obelis were talking about working together on a project. I’m unsure whether it will be a single track or something on a larger scale, but anything that gets two such talented MCs with two such totally different styles together is a fine idea in my book.
  • Cover story: Hot on the heels of his re-mastered Cover Fire Vol. 1, Able-X has just released Cover Fire Vol. 2. Able describes this second chapter as “6 tracks … I didn't write, some from bands you've never heard of.” Best. Tagline. Ever.
  • The clock is ticking: If you’re planning to submit a track for the CAGcast theme song contest I mentioned a while back, time is growing short. The 100th episode of the Cheap Ass Gamer podcast is mere days away, so get to recordin’!
  • The dozens: And speaking of time constraints, solid information concerning Doc Popular’s projected 12-hour music challenge has finally come to light. The project, dubbed Crate Digger Deathmatch by bastard pop royalty and all-around musical mad scientist TradeMark of The Evolution Control Committee, will take place on Saturday, January 5th of next year. The CDD challenges artists, musicians, and producers of every persuasion and caliber to create at least six 2-minute tracks from no more than $12 worth of music and permissible items purchased from thrift stores. And you gotta do it in only 12 hours. More info should be available for interested parties within the coming week.
  • Everything I needed to know I learned from Star Trek: From my man Church comes a trio of Trek-related pieces. The first is a DOD-approved training module boasting the unlikely title Leadership, The Final Frontier: Lessons From the Captains of Star Trek. The second is about a Klingon adaptation of A Christmas Carol that was performed last week in Minneapolis. And lastly, we have the results from a Worth 1000 contest called If Trekkies Ruled.
  • Better late than never: Matt keeps reminding me (and I keep forgetting) about Wizrocklopedia's 12 Days of Wrockmas. Essentially it's a new FREE Wizard Rock track every day for nearly two weeks from our friends at the 'Pedia. Be warned, though, the tracks are availabe for a very limited time.
  • Words can’t explain: My gal-pal and all around freaky chick Buttnik sent me a Gizmodo UK link that’s left me perplexed and summarily amused. Two words: gadget bondage. Two more: the fuck?
  • For the occultist who has everything: Denika and Dennis turned me on to Etsy a while ago, but I never imagined you could get Lovecraftian Christmas ornaments. Daddy needs an Elder Sign!
  • The Great Old Ones: Also of interest to Miskatonic University alum is this fine selection of high quality MP3 albums from nerd rock icons The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets available at Kerf Music. CDs are for Deeps Ones.
  • I am nerd of the week: I would like to accept the Vaguely Qualified Productions award for Nerd of the Week on behalf of all blogger nerds, and I’d like to… What? No actual award? Then fuck that noise!