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You never knew you loved... Bringing Nerdcore above ground

Amy Plachta | Interrobang | Lifestyles | November 16th, 2009

For years now hip-hop has fallen under periodic scrutiny for its lyrical content and the imagery in its music videos. The glamour of criminal activity and scantily clad women are featured often enough to turn some people off the genre entirely.

Clearly these people have never heard of Nerdcore.

This subgenre prides itself on its nerdiness, with lyrics that reference science fiction and scientific fact, as well as politics and computers, among other things. However, subject matter is far from limited. Nerdcore songs can run the topical gamut, so long as the artist creating them self-identifies with the genre.

This is still an emerging style. The term “Nerdcore,” coined by MC Frontalot, has been in existence for less than a decade, and the music itself doesn't precede the term by far. It is still largely underground, with tracks being self-produced and released online, often for free.

The biggest boost to visibility came in no small part thanks to the help of Penny Arcade, who featured Frontalot and Optimus Rhyme at their 2004 Expo. The featured artists were also mentioned online in several Penny Arcade webcomics, thus gaining attention from geeks, gamers, and nerds well beyond the conference attendees.

It is worth noting that, in spite of obtuse and often amusing content, Nerdcore is not a parody genre. Despite success in the mainstream with songs like All About the Pentiums and, more recently White and Nerdy, Weird Al Yankovic wouldn't be considered a Nerdcore artist simply by virtue of not taking the songs seriously. Nerdcore artists are nerds themselves, and as such, their content reflects their lives with all the sincerity of a mainstream hip-hop artist who focuses on street life.

Nerdcore, while niche, is both available and accessible online. Though, unlike many other genres, it is not widely published on MySpace, as the nerds who create it generally understand the Terms of Service that most users scroll past, and prefer not to accept them. Still, if you're on the hunt, this could be your quarry:

MC HawkingMC Hawking: designating this artist as a rapper is contestable due to the fact that none of his lyrics are actually spoken, but rather computer generated to emulate his namesake. Check out The Mighty Stephen Hawking off the 2004 greatest hits album A Brief History of Rhyme.

MC Frontalot: creating the name and helping to bring the genre into the mainstream has made MC Frontalot one of the biggest acts in Nerdcore. He is also featured in the documentary Nerdcore Rising, named for his 2005 album, which featured the track Secrets from the Future.

Futuristic Sex Robotz: considering themselves to have a gangster element, this group took a political stance when they released Fuck the MPAA on their 2006 album Hotel Coral Essex, speaking out against both the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry of America.
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