Saturday, January 31, 2009

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 60: Buccaneer Banzai

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way; the very idea of pirates rapping is ridiculous.

Of course, so is the concept of a virtual supergroup or a rap album dedicated to a Georgia law enforcement agency or sock puppet rock or mashing up Snoop Dogg and the soundtrack from Grease. Practically everything I support via this site is, on one level or another, a little weird.

I reckon that's sort of my purpose in life. It's my calling. But you probably already figured that part out.

While talking to this episode's special guest, Captain Dan, I came to realize that the experience I had while watching his band at Nerdapalooza last year is exactly what he and his cohorts shoot for in both their live shows and their studio work: having a sort of contagious fun that just so happens to juxtapose pirates and hip-hop.

He brought that same energy to the podcast, and I have to admit that it made my side of the experience utterly enjoyable. I hope it does the same for you.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 60: Buccaneer Banzai (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 52.9 MB Running Time: 57:47

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
That Baddd Spellah runs a tight ship.

Track 1: YTCracker – "I am a Pirate"
"Smoke, drink, hack a computer. Drink, smoke, first-person shooter."

1st Interlude: "How fair the mainsails, Cap’n?"
Yes, Captain Dan stays in character for the whole interview. It's kind of his thing.

Track 2: Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew – "Pirate’s Code"
Pirates really did have ship-specific codes on conduct. Though I sort of doubt they were explained in verse.

Track 2: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl dialog / The Curse of Monkey Island soundtrack – "A Pirate I Was Meant to Be"
Oh, how I love the classic LucasArts titles!

Track 3: Tyler Heath – "Zelda Wind Waker: Pirates of Dragon Roost Isle OC ReMix"
The first of 2 amazing selections from OverClocked ReMix.

Track 4: The Aquabats – "Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates"
Why are there no midget pirates on Yo Gabba Gabba!? It only seems fitting.

Track 5: The Alaskan Pirate and His Salty Seaman – "Pensacola Girl"
As the Captain is from Florida, this track seemed appropriate.

Track 6: Paul and Storm – "The Captain’s Wife’s Lament"
I challenge you to not spend the rest of the damn day singing this song. Go ahead. Try.

2nd interlude: "Sexy, sexy pirate love."
I generally split a podcast into three sets when hosting a special guest, but this time around I decided to stick with the 2 set format so I could get lengthier, uninterrupted interview segments. Please let me know which method you prefer.

Track 7: IrnMnky – "Pirates Encore (Aimee Mix)"
It's been a while since I played IrnMnky, so this provided a great opportunity to drop some more into the mix.

Track 8: The Besties – "Pirate Song"

The same goes for indie poppers The Besties, an act that Matt turned me on to.

Track 9: John Revoredo – "Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion: Pirates of Oblivion OC ReMix"
This second OC Remix served as an opportunity for Dan and I to talk up Oblivion. It's a fine game.

Track 10: Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew – "Rum and Juice"
It wasn't until after I played it that I realized that this is sort of a Scurvy Crew rarity, a non-album track.

Track 11: KABUTO THE PYTHON – "Captain Dan is a Punk"
This is a demo version of the diss track from KABUTO's Shed Skins EP. It's rough, but it's still got all that KABUTO style.

Final interlude: "A novelty act? A concept band?"
Dan really explained the Scurvy Crew project well, and, while I certainly don't expect everyone to dig it, I think it's pretty hard to deny that he and his fellow pirate MCs are genuinely dedicated to creating something that is fun for folks on either side of the mic.

Track 12: Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew – "From the Seas to the Streets"
If you're looking for a fun album with tons of style (and especially if you have a thing for pirates), From the Seas to the Streets is definitely worth your attention. And I can promise you'll be hearing more of it and the Crew's other work here on RFH.

Having the Captain join me on this edition of the 'cast was a lot of fun. I really haven't laughed that much in a long time.

Dan is a great guy who is truly passionate about making music, and he's not afraid to sometimes take that to the next (il)logical level. I, for one, have to respect that. If you can take your craft seriously without taking yourself overly so, you're aces in my book.

I know that the nerdcore scene is a minefield of disparate musical paradigms, but there's an interesting commonality if you dig deep enough. Captain Dan's ceaseless dedication to making music fun is a core belief echoed by a number of other acts I've talked to, from My Parents' Favorite Music to T-byte to Frontalot and YTCracker.

Plus, it really is all about the booty.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Week in Swag

Twas truly a fine week for free shit here at the House of Z. I mean, it's never a bad week for free shit, but this particular week saw a remarkably fine crop of freebies make their way to my doorstep.

My first care package came compliments of my pal Josh from the Brilliant Gameologists. He'd recently been expounding upon the glories of the Burning Wheel RPG system, and offered to send me some books to get me up to speed for a play-by-post game he's DMing at the BG forums. Included in my starter set was both the core rules book and the Character Burner, and, while I'm only a few dozen pages into the former, I can totally see where he's coming from with regard to his relentless praise of the game. Whereas more traditional titles like D&D encourage players to develop unique quirks and personalities for their characters, Burning Wheel relies upon this as a genuine play mechanic. The way you play your character is influenced as much by his back story, beliefs, and predilections as it is his core stats.

This second of this week's pleasant surprises came from The Scurvy Crew's Captain Dan, who not only sent me a copy of the band's new release From the Seas to the Streets, but also copies of their two preceding albums and the rest of the current Nonexistent Recordings catalog. While you're probably familiar with the piratical rhymes of the Crew, the other two acts presented are equally as engaging but with totally different styles from the work of the Captain. Echo Slightly boasts a smooth electronic feel that's both instantly appealing and summarily relaxing, and Stabilizer is truly eclectic rock at its finest.

With all that said, I reckon the purpose of this post is two-fold. First, it's to publicly thank Josh and Dan for their generosity – Thanks, guys! – and second, it's to point out that if you make friends with these cats they will very likely send you presents.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

John Updike died earlier this week.

Truthfully, I’m still a little sad about that fact, but burying your heroes is the kind of thing to which every man must become accustomed. I’ll just lump his effigy atop the growing pile – with Carlin and Hicks and Strummer and the like – and go on about my business of stoking the pyre.

His short story "A&P" was the first piece of realistic fiction that ever struck me as the slightest bit realistic. It spoke to me in a way that no short-form work has since, and its reading has become something of a sacrament. It was the story that made me realize, even as a youth, that tales bereft of monsters or magic or superheroes could still be compelling, and, no, not just by leaning of the crutch of blatant sexuality. It set naked before me the simple truth that man is slave to his emotional whims and adolescent urges and that life itself is the canvas on which we paint.

But mostly it taught me that everyone has a story. Even the lowliest of worker bees.
  • From the Northern Hinterlands: Nerdcore has been chosen as the "Genre of the Month" by Canadian music magazine SoundProof. While I take issue with some of the information provided – cc rap?! – I’ll let it slide because, as you know, I love Canadians. And speaking of which, the piece also spotlights Toronto-based nerd-centric podcast The Closet Geek Show, which sounds divine.
  • Geekarama: Congrats go out to Aaron, of FL nerdcore and geek culture champions A Comic Shop, for securing a regular column at Newsarama. Aaron, in turn, contacted everyone’s best friend Hex Warrior to help put together a piece on nerdy music. And thus the love is shared.
  • Everything’s Coming Up Ant!: Congratulations are also in order to my pal Anthony, who’s parleyed the continually mounting success of Game Music 4 All into a gig at gamer/geek culture haven The Start Screen. But Ant hasn’t let this throw off his game, as he recently announced that his plan for ’09 is a new VGM mini-mixtape every month! Excitements. I has them. 
  • Wii. Where?: And speaking of GM4A, be sure to check out the site’s feature interview with Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games. It concerns Gaijin’s new WiiWare title Bit.Trip Beat, which is a Pong-style chiptune rhythm game. This is a game that’s been building some great buzz within the community, and this piece just drives home how amazingly cool it truly is.
  • When We Were One: I’d also like to wish a happy birthday to my friends at netlabel Pterodactyl Squad! The Squad chose to celebrate its first anniversary with the release of a self-titled album from Atari artist Army of 2600. Give it a listen and enjoy the chippy goodness.
  • Disaster-Dong: My pal Matt was the first of many to hip me to this Offworld post about my other favorite netlabel Pause Music. Specifically it concerns Pause’s +PLUS section, which provides free soundtracks from a number of indie games. Collect ‘em all!
  • Be Prepared: Matt has also recently turned me on to the concept of Nerd Merit Badges. Technically, there’s only one such badge available at present, but the site seems to be establishing a strong Twitter following to help them decide where to go from there.
  • Now *Stay* in the Van!: The 2 Skinnee J’s reunion documentary Get in the Van is currently being submitted to a number of festivals in search of a proper premiere, and the producers need your help. Fans are asked to contact events like The Tribeca Film Festival, South By Southwest, the LA Film Festival, and Cannes to let the submissions boards know how interested they are in seeing the film featured. Is that really so much to ask? 
  • I’m Starting to Think it’s His Personal Site: Hey, Church made TechDirt. Again. This time with news concerning the importance of pop culture in the development of childhood imagination. Exhibit A seems to be Potter fandom, so WRockers take note.
  • Mouths of Babes: Speaking of Wizard Rock, the scene’s youngest contributors, The Hungarian Horntails, were featured in the School Library Journal. It’s a Q&A with Darius, the older of the band’s two brothers, and he actually interviews better than most artists twice his age. 
  • Meryton is a Deathtrap: And while’ we’re on the subject of literacy; please pre-order Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. It’s a retelling of Austen’s classic that comes exactly as advertised. 
  • Grue Rock!: Have you ever wanted to play a text-based, Zork-inspired version of Guitar Hero? Of course you have
  • Everything Must Go!: mc chris is having another of his famous merch sales. Posters, t-shirts, bags, lighters... shit, pretty much everything for the discriminating mc aficionado is discounted. The supplies are limited and fans are legion, so get on it quick if you want in.
  • Needs a Longer Title: Random let me know that, in anticipation of the release of the new Street Fighter title, his friends at Capcom have made available a full set of vocal, effects, and music samples from Street Fighter II for DJs and producers to mix up to their hearts’ content. TrackItDown is hosting the sample set, as well as co-sponsoring a related competition. The 4 best remixers will each win an Xbox 360 and copy of Street Fighter IV, and runners up get copies of the game. For more info and rules, hit
  • Not to be Confused with Daryl Hannah: Also from Ran and my boy Ultraklystron comes a mash of Random’s "Splash Woman" and Kanye’s "Stronger." And here’s a vid of Ran’s original track for some comparison. Enjoy the android-y goodness.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Stuff That Memes Are Made Of

It’s the kind of thing that MC Frontalot might term a very unlikely occurrence: YTCracker, current underground icon and former notorious hacker, getting play on dance floors everywhere and getting love from… cops?!

Crazy, no? But also so very true.

It all started, as these things often do, with a funny idea. A joke, if you will.

Last week, social networking sites like Facebook were abuzz over the discovery that the Dekalb County Police Department – the law in a metro-Atlanta burg just a couple of hours southwest of my neck of the woods – featured a different crunk beat as the background loop for each page of its official Web site. It was at first widely assumed that this music had been slipped into the site by some smart-ass hacker, but the truth is that the beats had been purposefully included by the site's designer, a not unheard-of mistake by first-time webmasters.

YT, at the request of a friend, elected to use these beats to make an EP of his own, and, in some sort of warped ode to the ridiculousness of the entire affair, crafted his lyrics purely out of biographical information available about the department and its officers on the site itself. Ten hours later, YTCracker was the proud father of DCPD Bangerz Vol. 1, 6 tracks of profanity-free, southern cop show goodness.

And it hit. Hard.

It became an immediate sensation, and, for the first time in history, YTCracker began to garner mainstream attention not for some high profile hack from the Digital Gangster crew and not as some ham-handed attempt by a major media outlet to cash in on the growing geek chic, but for simply being the genuinely creative, incredibly funny cat we've always known him as.

Now, not only is the album popping up everywhere, but YT is even in talks with the DCPD itself about a possible fundraiser in the future.

So once again, YTCracker wins the Internet.

It looks like the ensuing traffic may have made downloading this unlikely masterpiece problematic, so, if y'all have any trouble, just give me a yell and I'll mirror. This isn't exactly the kind of shit you wanna be forced to live without.

Download DCPB Bangerz Vol. 1 from

Monday, January 26, 2009

This is Not a Bomb

About a month ago, my pal Vincent hit me up via Twitter to ask my opinion on a video project he was considering. He had the idea to do a kinetic type vid for the YTCracker/MC Lars/Doc Pop Digital Gangster LP track "911 AM (Rudy Giuliani)" - similar to a George Lopez piece he did as a final project for a motion graphics course he took last semester.

Since that is, as the kids say, my jam, I told him that it sounded like a great idea, and Vince set to work. Over his winter break, he put together the first third of the video, which he recently posted to YouTube. His plan is to finish it up during his next break, and Doc even offered to hook him up with some lipsynch footage to help flesh it out.

So, while you're looking forward to the finished product, here's a sneak preview of the project thus far. Consider it your teaser trailer.