Monday, May 18, 2009

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 66: Lovely and Talented

The title of this episode comes from my recent introduction (on that other podcast) of Marian Call, though frankly I use the same idiom around here fairly regularly. It's become a well-worn broadcast meme in itself, and, to be honest, I reckon it's almost a little demeaning if you look at it critically.

I guess the difference is I actually mean it. Whether it's Marian or Switchblade Kittens or Zombies! Organize!!, I really do find their musical contributions exquisite (lovely) and their aptitude notable (talented).

Still, perhaps this simply serves to underscore the unique brand of misogyny that runs rampant in our subculture. Just as women are often marginalized in the mainstream, so do they receive a similar disservice within geekdom. Perhaps worst of all, these geek girls must also cope with the mock surprise associated with being a female adherent to the stereotypical male discipline of nerdery.

I talk a bit about this in this edition of the show, but mostly I just attempt spotlight the female voice – both literal and figuratively – in nerd music.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 66: Lovely and Talented (hosting provided by Antisoc) Size: 45.3 MB Running Time: 49:30

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
If Baddd Spellah was a woman, he'd be sassy dame!

Track 1: I Fight Dragons vs. Imogen Heap – "The Process"
Imogen Heap is, despite her Grammy nods and mainstream accolades, a supporter of nerdy endeavors. Don't believe me? Ask Pixelh8.

Z's 1st interlude: "Yet another mash-up, albeit with a totally different feel."
There are a lot of bootlegs in this ep, but I tried to incorporate examples that used female vocals in different ways.

Track 2: Danzig vs. Missy Elliot – "Wicked Missycat"
Unlike "The Process," which layers vocals, "Wicked Missycat" instead juxtaposes Elliot's rhymes over some melancholy metal. I find the results pleasing.

Track 3: Nursehella – "Keep It Real (Represent My Nuts)"
Sadly, Nursehella has a relatively meager back catalog, but, as scant as it may be, it's truly impressive.

Track 4: 1337 Geek Beat – "Hutzumi"
I haven't played track since episode 16, and oh how I've missed it!

Track 5: 8 Bit Weapon – "Closer (Bitpop Mix)"
I recently reviewed the previous 8 Bit Weapon full-length. As I recall, I said some really nice things. Those also apply to their new Electric High EP.

Track 6: Switchblade Kittens – "She Has a Rep"
Only the Kittens could get away with a concept album based on the works of Meg Cabot. Though the references are lost on me, the songs themselves are pop perfection.

Track 7: Lauren Fairweather – "I Want You to Whomp Me"
Wizard Rock is renowned for its female-friendly slant, and because of that I actively limited the amount of WRock in this episode. I didn't want my selections to be too predictable.

Track 8: K.Flay – "I Rap Nice (UM Stream mix)"
While certainly not nerdcore, K.Flay made her presence known to dorks everywhere via some stellar contributions to The Digital Gangster LP. Since that time I have played a lot of her work around the house, both for my own enjoyment and in the hopes that it will inspire my daughter to become a suburban rap queen!

Z's 2nd interlude: "Interspersed throughout that set you also heard snippets of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry."
Because of this ep's proximity to the release of the new Star Trek re-imagining, this seemed like a obvious choice.

Track 9: Wendy Carlos – "Two Part Invention in D Minor"
Thanks again to Krys for this suggestion. I think it fit perfectly!

Track 10: Little Red Car Wreck – "Static Cling"
LRCW's Motor Like a Mother was the original inspiration for this episode. Thanks, Doc!

Track 11: Zombies! Organize!! – "Crunk in the Mall"
My love of Z!O!! is well established. I find there fusion of nerdcore, art rock and minimalist synth arrangements intoxicating.

Track 12: Echo Slightly – "Echo Slightly"
This one was a last minute addition to the show. Captain Dan sent me a copy of their release Birds Fly South, and I have to say that it's some wonderful downtempo.

Track 13: Marian Call – "I'll Still Be a Geek"
Marian Call is an amazingly talented songwriter, and her voice is hauntingly beautiful. It's not exactly standard fare for RFH, but I hope y'all enjoy it.

Z's final interlude: "I think we should know better."
I am as guilty as anybody when it comes to playing into old gender stereotypes with regard to nerds. Still, I promise to work on it if you will.

Track 14: The Reborn Identity – "Ladykillers"
Ladyhawke? Not so nerdy, but I think there's some geek appeal to her work. Plus, her grocery list of medical ailments (everything from sever drug allergies to Asperger's) should make for a sympathetic case to frail dorks everywhere.

My pal Jason is fond of saying that one manifestation of nerd culture is a flagrant disregard for gender roles. But while it's true that geeky guys may reject traditionally macho endeavors, that doesn't somehow make us immune to sexism. Women are an important part of our culture, and until we can let go of this outdated notion that nerdery is a boys club, then we are just as narrow-minded as our one-time tormentors.

When the mainstream media is seemingly startled by the notion that there are female gamers, comic fans or geeky musicians, it's a little silly. When we on the inside react the same way, it's actually rather insulting.

Again, I know I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but I do think it's time we reexamined how we perceive the ladies in our midst. They are not oddities or conversation pieces; they are our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. And they are every bit as important to our culture as their male counterparts.


Church said...

They are not oddities or conversation pieces; they are our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. Also, potential GFs. For a group that prides itself on smarts, we really don't seem to think this one through.

Z. said...

Well said, my friend. :)

ComplexedOne said...

Once again, a podcast full of music I should already be listening to. Thx, Z.


Z. said...

Just glad to know you dug it, CO!

Anonymous said...

totally badass. you make some really great points in here. absolutely refreshing.

Z. said...

Thanks, anonymous stranger! :D

ShadedSpriter said...

I tried to enjoy this episode but Track 3...It really took me to a place I didn't want to go.

With the transphobia in it and the implication of Female raping this person It really emotionally effected me. (as in nearly having a panic attack.)

It might not of been so bad if I wasn't at work at the time and had couldn't skip it or take my earphones out from fear of the person next to me hearing it...

The prevalence of homophobic material in normal rap is one of the reasons I try and avoid the genre.

Anonymous said...

as always an amazing listen. and informative!! loved the bit about the doctor who theme.

<3 [hex]

Church said...

@ SSprinter

Really? Are you familiar with the original?

Kitten said...

I've only listened to the first half but I was blown away by the diversity and excellence of the tracks on this. Plus, I felt like I was practically listening to an NPR program learning about interesting women in some interesting culture. Except I was looking from the inside.

Hell yeah.

Anonymous said...

I salute your attack on the sexism which has permeated this and most cultures. I do think that you ought to tackle the issue of homophobia which has come up in these comments. You have already done prejudice against 'nerds' from 'geeks', and prejudice against women this week. Make it a trio? Legends of the nerdy music scene Jesse Dangerously and MC Frontalot have tackled the issue, why not put yourself on that list?

Z. said...

You make a good point re: the homophobia of the mainstream, ShadedSpriter. Personally, I always thought the sound of Hella rapping Keith's disjointed (but certainly overly aggressive) lyrics softened the thematic blow, but I understand how that too could simply add insult upon injury. Either way, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Glad you dug it, Hex.

I appreciate it, Kitten. I seldom consider this show informative, but it's good to know you got some added value. :)

Honestly, my anonymous friend, I feel that the biggest failure of this project is that I haven't been able to assemble an all-nerd LGBT-friendly episode. With the notable exceptions you mentioned (and a handful of others), there seems to be a glaring lack of music that adequately broaches the subject. Still, I've long wanted to tackle the issue, so if anyone has other song suggestions please share them!

Black Douglas said...

Still can't believe you skipped Betty Rebel's "Monsters", that track rips.

Z. said...

I'll have to check my back catalog and see if I've played "Mana and Me" yet. I think that's one of Betty's best! :)

Tyson said...

About K.Flay:

I'm curious to hear why you think she is "certainly not nerdcore". Although she isn't directly a part of the sub-genre, she has plenty of nerdy lyrics. She may be wise to not define herself that way, but I still feel like she belongs somehow (like MC Lars).

Out of excitement for the upcoming release of the Single & Famous EP, I have been searching for more of K.Flay's back catalog. You mentioned playing a lot of her work around the house, so I am wondering if you can help me find more of her music. I have tracks from comps, guest spots, and from iTunes U (Stanford Soundtrack). Also, I picked up 3 tracks from your link. I wish this full album were more affordable: Anything you have found that I've missed?

Z. said...

I tend to view "nerdcore" as a term you have to buy into, Tyson, and since I've never heard K.Flay associate herself with the movement I simply think of her in the same strata of intelligent underground as Lars. And sadly, I think you've found all the same tracks as me! I got an early preview of S&F, but other than that I think our K.Flay collections are identical. :)