Thursday, July 9, 2009

nerdcore is dead? long live nerdcore

Chaos has ensued after post-punk laptop rapper MC Lars proclaimed the death of nerdcore this week. The post, RIP Nerdcore (1998-2009), begins with this video:

Lars prefaces his pronouncement with the following "important truth":

I have love for ANYONE trying to make a career for him or herself as a professional musician. The odds are stacked against you incredibly. No one buys CDs, so you're going to have to make your living off of touring and selling t-shirts out of a suitcase. GarageBand is in the hands of any and everyone, so unless you have more than a remedial understanding of home recording, the competition is ridiculous when it comes to the need for your product to be presented professionally. Plus, on top of all of that, nowadays everyone knows how to market themselves with Myspace and Facebook and Twitter and blah blah blah, so unless you get extremely lucky with the best song ever written played for the exactly right people at the exactly right time with the most dope YouTube video ever filmed, you're dead in the water.

Then, however, he goes on to explain that "unless you are MC Frontalot, it's time to stop trying to make 'nerdcore hip-hop'." Too many people, he explains, want only to jump on the nerdcore bandwagon (it's a very small bandwagon, ha ha) and do it by trying to sound exactly like Frontalot, the originator of the nerdcore movement. He writes:

I get demos all the time by kids who self-identify as "nerdcore hip-hop artists". And I tell them all that before you try to artificially incorporate yourself into a subgenre, that they need to UNDERSTAND its genesis and BE PREPARED TO PUSH IT FORWARD. Sounding exactly like the dopest people in the scene is not enough.

Well, as you can probably imagine, members of the nerdcore scene got their Star Trek Underoos all in a bunch over this post. Over at Hipster, Please!, the author points out that not only does Lars misunderstand the value of labels like "nerdcore" ("geek rock," "chiptunes" etc.) for describing a musician's proximity to one musical approach or another. He adds that
Lars similarly glosses over a significant chunk of applicable MCs that I fear he perhaps doesn't in his treatise on nerdcore. Whore Moans, The Ranger, Grandmaster Pink, MadHatter, Navi and Super Dragon X are not new to hip-hop. These are cats who were making beats and recording rhymes (with varying levels of nerdy slant) without the insulation of a nerdcore "scene," but who used the loose affiliation that sprang up in the wake of Rhyme Torrents and Nerdcore For Life to find similar, like-minded artists. At times many of them have expressed their own dissatisfaction with the direction of the scene, but their collective antidote has been to make their own shit that much more dope.

Then MC Frontalot himself hosted a forum for discussing this very issue: Is nerdcore dead? It's a lengthy and lively forum, and I think it's safe to say that any proclamation that engenders this amount of backlash may have been made in error. Nerdcore is dead--long live nerdcore.

Lars, to his great credit, is weathering the storm he brewed up with grace and aplomb. Not only has he not vituperated back at the people spitting venom at him, but he's been linking to other people's thoughts on the issue via his Twitter feed.


Anonymous said...

Aw fuck it. Spent too much time trying to sign in.

Jenna McWilliams said...

aw, man. sorry.


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