Friday, February 02, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

My own little Carolina home has recently been besieged by some inclimate weather. And, while all members of the family Z. are safe and warm, said wintery mix has made it a little difficult to stay on top of the nerd news. Thusly, I figured a second helping of NNIB was in order.
  • Assimilation Process (nearly) Complete: After his shit-hot performance at last month’s nerdcore invasion of Las Vegas, ZeaLouS1 has been wicked prolific. This week alone ZeaL has dropped a new track with DJ Snyder and an equally strong showing with Super Dragon X and producer Spontane. Up-and-comers take note; this is how you do it.
  • So… How’s Your Girl?: In addition to restocking the rest of his designs, mc chris also has some new, ultra-femme pink t-shirts in stock just in time for Valentine’s Day. Fuck diamonds; nerd merch is forever!
  • A fanboy fantasy come true: Gaming blog Joystiq reports that Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is looking for a new assistant. Tact and diplomacy are mandatory, and moxy is most definitely preferred. You should totally apply! You're cool like that.
  • What da funk?: funky49 just hipped me to a new track he is working on, and it is quite different from the hip hop output to which I’ve become accustomed. I can say no more, save that you’ll be surprised (and delighted) by this new offering sometime in late March.
  • Robot Friends forever: Please don’t forget that Doc Pop and I are dropping the podcasts for our Robot Friends project next Wednesday. Expand your musical horizons as the good Doctor and I celebrate our future captors.
  • Mind your mixtapes: While I’m sure Hipster, please! ain’t exactly your first choice for non-nerdy hip hop news, I feel the following is pertinent across the board. The degree to which the RIAA has fucked DJ Drama and Don Cannon is staggering to say the least. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this and this. Bottom line, this ain’t about mixtapes, hip hop, or fair use; this is about freedom.
  • Tell ‘em Z. sent you: Before I go, let me share with you a little message from Doctor Popular. Apparently, MySpace currently does not include Nerdcore as a genre within their system, and Doc wants to fix this. As MySpace is a huge place for nerdy artists to share their music with fans (and horrified onlookers), such an addition would be a positive step for the community. If you’d like to help, copy, paste, and forward the following to Customer Service, MySpace's Admin (or through email at and Tom. Feel free to blog it, post it at your site, and/or forward it to any other sympathetic parties. Represent your nerd brothers and sisters!

Dear Myspace,

In 2000, MC Frontalot coined the term Nerdcore Hip Hop, creating the foundation for geeks and nerds everywhere to pick up a microphone and start rapping. In the last 7 years, Nerdcore has flourished into it's own distinct style of music.

2006 has been the largest year for Nerdcore yet, and with mainstream press from Newsweek, Wired Magazine, Spin, XXL, NPR, and MSNBC, as well as accolades from websites such as Slashdot and Boing Boing, 2007 looks to be an even bigger year for Nerdcore.

This year will see more Nerdcore releases than ever before and Nerdcore's largest audience yet. Two new documentaries, Nerdcore For Life and Nerdcore Rising will be released later this year, and have already generated considerable buzz in both the music and film circuits.

Despite the popularity of Nerdcore music, MySpace still does not offer it as a genre. Haven't nerds suffered enough already?

There are Nerdcore metal bands, Nerdcore rock bands, and, obviously, Nerdcore hip hop artists on MySpace that can not properly be searched under the term "Nerdcore". Given that MySpace has surprisingly specific genres such as "Christian rap", "Shoegazer" and "Screamo", it is a shame that Nerdcore has yet to be added.

Consider the following:

The top 8 videos on YouTube tagged with "Nerdcore" have generated
1,581,216 combined views.
There are currently 2,640 profiles on MySpace with "Nerdcore" in their profile.
There are several websites, blogs, and even online channels dedicated solely to Nerdcore.
Beefy is a virgin.
Nerdcore Rising's profile has 1,285,674 MySpace friends.
The creation of a Nerdcore MySpace genre could be what will finally gets Beefy laid.

Relevant links include:

In an attempt to encourage MySpace to update its genres, I am taking part in a letter writing campaign. It is our goal for Nerdcore to finally get the recognition it truly deserves.

And besides, when else will anybody ever ask you to label them as a nerd?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

That’s Still Me

When the opportunity to interview mc chris unexpectedly presented itself, I was thrilled. In the very small pond that is nerd music, mc is a not merely a big fish; he’s a whale. mc is a creature apart in form and, to a lesser degree, function. I’ll end this metaphor here, before anyone mentions that one could scarcely find a pond large enough to sustain a whale. I mustn’t ruin the moment.

mc chris has made a name for himself by simply doing what he loves. He writes the rhymes that he feels led and makes the decisions that seem right for him at the time. One such decision was to distance himself from the musical movement known as nerdcore hip hop. Generally unfamiliar with the term and put off by the isolationist trappings inherent in categorizing one’s music, mc eschewed nerdcore in favor of simply being mc. Unfortunately, this decision snow-balled, and many of the artists that he had helped to inspire felt abandoned by their progenitor.

Willy Shakespeare tells us that some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. To that I wish to add the caveat and others still find themselves asked to champion a cause with which they are wholly unfamiliar.

Such is the tale of mc chris.

He was nice enough to share that tale with Hipster, please!, and I couldn’t be happier to share it with you.


At what point did you decide to put your admittedly odd voice to work as a rapper?

When I started rapping I still hated my voice and I never thought it was gonna be anything other than a joke for that very reason: my voice was too high. What ended up happening is my voice actually set me apart and got me noticed and into cartoons. So I tell everyone to reevaluate their flaws and then make like mc and cash in. To answer the question though, I’ve been rapping for over ten years. It started as soon as I got to NYU because I became friends with Adam Rabuck who had a pop-punk band called Dirt Bike Annie. Once he acquired an 8-track we made songs quite regularly. I plan to put most of that early 8 track stuff out this year. You’ll hear stuff like, "did I fail to mention," in old songs; you'll see how things came to be. And it was never a decision made on purpose. If mc chris has primordial ooze its Colt 45. Much of these records were assembled while Adam and I were intoxicated.

When and why did you settle on the lack of capitalization evidenced in the moniker mc chris?

I just never like the way it looked any other way, and I never wanted people to lump me in with other rappers. Because I was something different. It wasn't real rap. I’ve never thought of myself as, like, a real mc. I’m too irreverent towards the music. I don't mind MCCHRIS, like for posters and t-shirts. But in the first credit sequence of Sealab they asked me how I wanted it and it's like that in Brak Show, Space Ghost, and ATHF. I can't wait to see if they got it right in the upcoming movie. They've always been cool enough to do it lowercase when they coulda said, "Fuck you, how's Chris Ward sound?"

I’ve never thought of myself as, like, a real mc.How instrumental do you feel your association with Williams Street Studios was in allowing you to become successful in your musical endeavors?

Totally and completely. I’d like to think my music might've risen to the top, but I had “Fett’s” for almost a year or maybe even two before anyone heard it on Sealab. The Internet helped too. I think it was timing: Adult Swim, the Internet boom, the Internet music boom, the Internet comedy boom, and then the geek cultural phenom. All of this, along with nonstop effort on my part, has kinda propelled me.

Though I know you’re probably sworn to secrecy with regard to the gory details, what can you tell us about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie?

Hell yeah! March 23, 2007. I just found out today I’ll be able to play SXSW and go to the movie premiere there so I’m stoked. I really look at this like my first real movie and I get goose bumps thinking about it. It already means a lot to me. And from what I’ve heard my scene tests well. That's about all I can say. If you were Satan what would you turn me into next?

Halle Berry. I’d be an admittedly bad Father of Lies. ;)

In the past, you’ve been characterized as exhibiting an “aloofness from the nerdcore scene.” Is this criticism warranted?

I definitely created distance and recently regretted that. I saw this piece on Patagonia (the company) and the CEO seemed pretty cool to me. He said that every time he did something for the environment, like using recycled materials to make clothes, it always paid off financially. It struck me. So I decided to not be so worried about things and put my best foot forward. Genre trappings are fun at the height of a fad's popularity, but sometimes it can kill you, limit you creatively, put you in a glass box basically. I did recently do a bunch of research and I saw that a lot of current nerdcore artists mentioned me in the beginning of their stories. And that affected me, I guess. If someone inspired me and then supposedly turned his back on me and my style of music I’d be hurt. So I just tried to speak up a little to both and (where board members are currently living on sparse rations.) I’m - if you can believe it - really shy and completely introverted; a total retard socially, so I clam up pretty tight outside of blogs. I saw that my not saying anything resulted only in people assuming the worst. So I wanted to speak up and clear things up. So far so good.

Describe your original feelings concerning the phrase “nerdcore hip hop” as a categorization of music. Have such feelings changed? Do you feel a kinship or connection toward other artists within this niche?

It was a word that went from sperm to Andre the Giant without me even noticing, as I was so self-involved. I didn't think much of it. I never thought that's what I was. Back when this all started, I saw everyone respond to “Fett” so then I wrote “Geek,” because I saw that geeks liked me. And I will seriously play to the crowd. I think everything went DIY across the board in the entertainment industry. And when a million kids started to make geek rap I was like, Whoa, what the fuck, this is MY birthday party! But it turns out I wasn't much of nerd compared to Front and YT. So I’ve learned to be myself, and, at the same time, I’ve come to terms with the validity of the genre. As for what I think of this artist or that, I won't play that game, but I will say that people being creative makes me really happy because I know it's bringing that person peace like it's always done for me. If I died tomorrow, I think I could go knowing I got some kids off their asses. And that's cool. As for kinship, it's hard for me feel that with my own family. It's difficult for me to attach to any group. Unless you don't want me in it, then I’m all over it. Like many of you, I’ve just been shit on too many times. I’m loosening up, though, I think.

Do you feel the concept of nerdcore is somehow artistically limiting or constrictive? Likewise, do you ever feel as though you’re unfairly characterized as a “nerd rapper?”

Yes and yes.

With the attention being paid to this unique brand of rap by Newsweek, TIME, Spin, and a myriad of other mainstream publications, do you feel any particular pressure as one of the most prominent and frequently mentioned artist?

Yes. One reason I spoke up is that I felt like I was dealing with the question too much. “What is nerdcore?” “Are you nerdcore?” I think I got my answers down now, but before hand I was like, What? I thought this was an mc chris interview. When I first started touring it was all about Adult Swim, and then it switched over to nerdcore and I just wanted to be noticed for my efforts; I was jealous that these concepts were butting into my interviews, but now that I’ve been able to step back I see that these things make me who I am and it makes it easier for the unaccustomed to give me a chance. Because these are basic concepts they can wrap their head around. I’m happy to completely to pass the buck to Front and YT to be kings. The CEO of Geek Squad said last night, “The geeks will inherit the earth, but they don't want to rule.” That's how I feel about it. Look at nerdcore like The Empire. I’d be Fett. Not a Sith, but some cool shit regardless.

You’ve recently hinted at some performance showcases. Are major labels finally courting mc?

I’ve been meeting with major labels since summer. I’m a strange bird and they don't know what to think of me, but they like my numbers. I’ve met with Sony, TVT, Virgin, Comedy Central Records, Universal, and there's a whole new crop that I’ll be trying to impress in the new year. It's weird. I do feel like a nerd in instances where I’m being judged. I hate the thought of someone looking at me and being like, This ain't rap. I don't get this. I take solace in things like MSI and Hollywood Undead, the fact that there are still fan-fueled phenoms. But yes, I have a showcase on February 13th at Mercury Lounge in NYC. And hopefully soon after that I will have a sense of what 2007 is gonna be like. Some weird stuff may happen, but all I can do is hope my real fans will have faith in my intelligence. It's gotten me this far.

You were present in the trailer for the forthcoming MC Frontalot documentary Nerdcore Rising, but conspicuously absent from the Nerdcore For Life trailer. Given that the genesis of that film was touched off when director Dan Lamoureux attended a particularly impassioned mc chris performance, are fans to deduce that you opted out of an appearance?

I'm ignorant of a lot of stuff going on in nerdcore, the music, the docs. I thought My Parents Favorite Music was some Christian thing till I went through your site and started clicking on the links, and I didn't do that until last weekend. I get lots of requests and sometimes they can overlap. I have new management in place and will probably have new booking before the end of this week. PR will also step up so things like this won't be overlooked. but no a lot of these mc hates me situations are me not even knowing what's going on. Hopefully this will improve in the new year.

Your live shows are often punctuated by crowd-pleasing freestyles concerning video games and geek culture. Exactly how impromptu are these songs?

I don't freestyle. I make rants and sometimes I do something for a second, but, mainly, no. I prepare. The rants in between songs volley between improvisation and scripted bits.

In the track “DQ Blizzard” you describe yourself as “half corn beef and cabbage, half Fred Savage / a better than average rapper with a have-to-have-it habit.” Would you care to amend this description, or is it still fairly accurate?

That's still me. I’d say I’m better than average, I’m still Irish, and I just saw Princess Bride and that's me. I’m Fred Savage. Or I was. Not the Austin Powers Fred Savage. No moles.

Despite the fact that most fans know you for your uncanny sense of humor, you often pepper your songs with genuine emotional resonance. Does the inspiration for tracks like “Cookie Breath” and “Arulapragasam” come from real-life experiences and individuals, or are such songs merely concept pieces?

All love songs are Chris Ward songs. Meaning the main character is Chris Ward in the real word. And yes, one of the few things I take with me from my punk days is writing songs about girls. I’ve started on the new album and it's been nothing but thus far.

Do you feel led to contrast your comical writing with more poignant lyricism, or do you simply write what comes to mind?

I think that humor without heart is lost on the audience; it won't resonate. So I think I try to paint the picture of someone sad who likes to escape into fantasy, because it's something I can relate to and I think it's needed. And I use humor and vulgarity to lull the audience into listening to my more corny concepts, like having pride, not being lazy, getting things done, going easy on hard drugs, etc.

You’ve been the subject of several diss tracks of late, but recently you and YTCracker (your biggest detractor) have buried the hatchet. Are we to take it that all is forgiven?

I’ve never been mad. One time a drawing I did of Kurt Cobain and bottle of Robitussin that said "This is what little art boys are made of," got stolen from a student gallery and at first I was bummed, but then I took it as the highest compliment. I’ve been shit on too much to let it burn like it did when I was a kid. So I try, somewhat desperately, to look on the bright side on life.
We had no idea what it meant and record labels immediately had me in to ask me how I did it.

Last year’s Dungeon Master of Ceremonies has outsold many more mainstream rap releases on iTunes alone. Were you prepared for this kind of success for the release?

No. We had no idea what it meant and record labels immediately had me in to ask me how I did it. I just say I try to not just cultivate a fan base, but to maintain it with blogs, contests, and constant interaction, constantly reminding the public that I’m human and flawed, but sometimes really cool shit happens. I’d like to think it gets the idea out there that good luck days happen too.

Do you have any solid plans for your next album? Any plans for a spring/summer tour?

I’m planning on calling it monstercrush. I was leaning towards horror movies and I have the whole skit story mapped out. It's gonna be monster-oriented, but the songs will be all over. I think there will much less video game and weed stuff and no guitars. I want it sound like LAB, to be honest, but I want a richer sound. I may end up having more fun making free stuff because I love samples. I will be touring nonstop this year, more than ever before. So I’m trying to write now in case I can't later. I don't know when I can record it. I don't know what label it's gonna be on, but I’ve started to talking to all sorts of people I’d like cameo, collab, or produce, like Prince Paul, Diplo, Paul Barman, DJ Swamp, Mr. Dibbs, Gerard Way, Todd Barry, Tom Green, Andrew WK. Some people that I want but have yet to get in contact with are Weird Al, Dr. Demento, Jason Mewes, Bill Hader, Reggie, Atom, Ratatat, Terminator X, and Freezepop. What I really want to do is make more music than ever this year. Let god sort'm out.

Do you consider yourself a nerd?

Yes, when people make fun of me or hate on me or whatever. I’m more nerd-lite. Like, I have all three consoles, but I can't get them to talk to my Wi-Fi. I don't know Dr. Who's first name, but I love Stephen King and Runaways. I like looking at the toys at Forbidden Planet every Wednesday, and I look at the expensive Hawkeye stuff with complete and sincere yearning. That's kinda nerdy. I heard Hawkeye is gonna be Ronin next year and I got a boner. Is that weird?

A little, yeah, but also understandable.

I realize that this is a thorny question, but, in your opinion, for whom do you make music?

Myself at first, but then I travel the country and share it. I feel like a song's not done until the entire crowd knows it and we can sing it together. It feels unfinished until the fans get their fingerprints on it. That's why the remix contest is usually a really happy time for me.


I’m sure there will be some out there who read this and summarily call bullshit. Some will, no doubt, feel that mc’s decision to embrace nerdcore – or, rather, his own unique position within that musical landscape – is insincere and opportunistic given the term’s recent graduation to pop culture buzzword. Others still may decry him solely for his ultimate decisions to begin fraternizing with a community that, until recently, had vilified him based as much on assumption as actual evidence. Personally, though, I can’t help but find his words and his actions sincere.

Whether or not mc chris ever truly considers himself a full-fledged member of the nerdcore hip hop community is a matter best left to mc chris. His is not an enviable position to be in, for sure, but he has taken it in stride. And rather than continue dodging a label that may prove inhibiting, he has proudly accepted his role in its development. mc's songs have inspired a throng of young artists to embrace what sets them apart, and this, however counterintuitively, has allowed them to come together.

Though you see his face on t-shirts and hear his voice on the television and (soon enough) the big screen, mc is very much like you or me. He’s a bit shy and socially awkward. He often feels pressure from ill-informed outsiders to conform to edicts and ideas with which he is uncomfortable. Sometimes he’s asked to answer a question or make a statement despite the fact that even he isn’t full-aware of his own opinion on the subject. More than anything, mc understands that being a nerd, an outcast, a pariah, means that you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone.

Nerdcore or not, mc chris is family. Sometimes families fight. Sometimes families disagree on what is the best course of action for the better good. Shit, sometimes members genuinely dislike each other. But, in the end, family is defined not by divergent features, names, or attitudes, but by shared traits, shared history.

Call his music what you will; mc chris is a member of our odd little family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we accept him, we accept him, one of us, one of us!"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Have we got contact?

I am medically incapable of giving a shit about The Grammys. I’m serious; doctors are baffled, but it’s true.

Recent rumblings about a Police reunion, however, may be just what it takes to get me to tune in, however briefly. I’ve built up a thick skin of late concerning classic band reunions. Generally bands break up for a reason. Either the creative juices have stopped flowing or the internal tension has grown far too strong. Mostly it’s a bit from column A and a bit from column B.

I think The Police did it the right way: they just sort of stopped playing together. It was like that girl you dated freshman year. You never actually broke up with her; y’all just stopped talking and started sleeping with other people.

So what’s it gonna sound like now that Sting, Andy, and Stewart are back in bed together? Who knows! But if it’s less-than terrible and they decide to tour, I am honor bound to attend.

And for those of you already antsy to point out that this isn’t nerd music news, I’d like to remind you that Sting was a secondary school English teacher. Also, his real name is Gordon Sumner (not to be confused with Gordon Shumway), and you can’t get more geeky than that!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Robot Friends

Western religion is heavily steeped in numerological precepts. Numbers like 7, 40, and especially 3 are literally and symbolically prevalent throughout both established doctrine and elastic interpretation. Thankfully, I am glaringly secular.

In my mind, it all comes down to the number 4. There are four seasons, four cardinal directions, four food groups, and four Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve. As far as I’m concerned, there are Four Great Ills that blight the world: zombies, spiders, clowns, and Christian puppet shows.

I shudder at their very mention.

Likewise, there are Four Bastions of Magnificence: monkeys, pirates, robots, and beer.

It is this third element on which I would like to elucidate.

When I burst from the womb in the year of my nation’s bicentennial, robots were there. They were there when I started grade school, and still endured when I graduated high school. On the day I wed, robots were there, and, with any luck, on the day I shuffle off this mortal coil it will be a robot – a bear-shaped, hulking mass of steel muscle and alloy sinew, blaring from its internal loud speakers a flawless rendition of Van Morrison’s “Caravan” – that lays me in my final resting place.

My affinity for robots is only outshined by my love of music. Sweet, nerdy music. Of course, it would only make sense that I should spin these twin loves into tapestry of acoustic anarchy, a tuneful tribute to the ‘bots who came before and the ones yet to be manufactured. Oddly, happenstance felt it necessary that my southern-born brother from another mother, yo-yo slinger extraordinaire Doctor Popular, would arrive at a similar design.

As such, the good Doctor and I have elected to join forces (à la Voltron) and present to an eager listening public a two-part robocentric musical event. Robot Friends beings together Doc’s podcast Drown Pirate Radio and my own meager offering Radio Free Hipster into a gestalt of sonic cybernetics the likes of which the world has never heard. We’ve scoured our considerable music collections to find the best and brightest android jams imaginable, and our robot-loving buddies have even chipped in some as yet unheard tracks to sweeten the deal.

Next Wednesday (that’s February 7th, for those of you tied to the calendar) Drown Pirate Radio Free Hipster will rain down upon you a torrent of mechanical melodies centered squarely on that most respected (and feared) institution: the robot. Science created them, but we shall sustain them with song.

Just like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, only nicer.

And how could I forget? Beef squashed!

As strange as all the press nerdcore has been getting is, the really unbelievable news is that YTCracker and mc chris have made peace. I shit you not! Much respect to all parties involved for solving this creatively and wiping the slate clean. Nerd-on-nerd violence is so ’06.

Nerd News in Brief

Is a fresh helping of Monday morning Nerd News in Brief becoming a Hipster, please! institution? We shall see.

  • Holy shit!: Even though we knew it was coming, the MSN/Newsweek article on nerdcore is still… What’s the word? Unearthly. Truthfully, it gives a fairly competent overview of the scene (aside from the obviously weird “honkies who rap” angle), and I think that’s probably the most surprising element. Be sure to check out the “Newsweek on Air” podcast segment to truly embrace the surreality. Baddd Spellah summed it up succinctly enough as "Crazy."
  • Holy shit again!: The book critic from TIME magazine, Lev Grossman, has also weighed in with his two cents on the subject at his professional blog. Best quote? “I have no idea how many people actually listen to nerdcore, or whether it'll ever become a commercially viable genre, and I don't really care. It's just dope.” Dope, Lev? Dope?!
  • My new best friend: Though I’ve another robot-themed post forthcoming, I simply can’t resist the urge to include this. It's the bestest robot ever, though how it is both “sword-wielding” and “friendly” seems counterintuitive.
  • Dynamic Duo: Lastly, MC Router was nice enough to enough to favor me with some photos from a recent 1GB interview. I find it comforting to know that, should we ever lose Karl in a freak fly-fishing accident, we have a spare in T-byte.

Christmas is cancelled!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A bona-fide Router sighting

My man Antisocial didn’t let his lack of appropriate undergarments preclude his attendance of last night’s Panty Drop Sock Hop. Likewise, he didn’t let the fact that he only had his cell phone camera prevent him from documenting some Router-licious onstage action. Hell, he even got the chance to hang out with Router post-performance. Not a bad way to spend a weekend!

In Soc’s on words, “It was a great show, and Kristen is a blast to hang out with.” I hope all the other attendees had an equally enjoyable time.