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A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD GENRE IS
POPPING UP ACROSS THE COUNTRY
(BUILT ON THE SHOULDERS OF NERDS)
BY BRYAN REED
Tin- new face of hip-hop might not be
w hat you’d expect.
In a day when just about anyone can
produce a track on his or her home com
puter, anew spin on the genre is sprout
ing in dorm rooms and computer science
departments across the country.
Called nerdcore hip-hop, it combines
the simplicity of old-school hip-hop with
the do-it-yourself ethic of punk and the
aesthetic of geek culture.
While some dismiss it as a joke, nerd
core hip-hop w hich addresses impor
tant issues such as Star Wars and JAVA
script is gaining a loyal following.
"Nerdcore hip-hop could reign
supreme, raps Boston resident Damian
Hess on the pivotal song “Nerdcore Hip
hop.” 1 less, one of the frontrunners of the
genre, is better known to Internet surf
ers as MC Frontalot, the world’s “579th
Frontalot and other similarly nerdy
rappers have been popping up on the
Internet in growing numbers. Their
unusual stylings are not without prec
edent in mainstream popular culture.
Early precursors to the nerd-rap phe
nomenon are songs such as “Weird Al"
Yankovic's parody, "It’s All About the
Pentiums," and nerdy rock hands such as
They Might Be Giants.
But the recent development of easy-to
use music-editing software and record
ing equipment has made it possible for
any would-be rapper w ith a laptop and
a microphone to produce professional
“In 19.99 my computer had suddenly
become fast enough to do hi-fi mul
titrack recording,” says Frontalot.
"I was trying to figure out how to
do something with it. Really, I was
inspired by wanting to learn how
the software works.”
Another Boston resident, Ken
Leavitt-Lawrence also know n as
MG Hawking began recording
nerd-rap tracks in 199.9. He started
experimenting with the vocal sounds
of a Macintosh computer program
that reads text aloud in a voice simi
lar to the simulated vocals of famed
physicist Stephen 1 law king.
What started as a joke has blossomed
into. 1 Uric/ History of Rhyme, out on
the Brash Music label.
Frontalot considers nerdcore hip
hop to he the "natural sort of bedtime
fantasy for anyone who kind of
grew up being a nerd.”
()thcr acts have sprung up
rappers are college students making
music on their laptops. Some members of
the nerdcore group Futuristic Sex Robot/
are students, and the breakthrough artist
MC I -ars began making music in his room
in a college residence hall.
Musically, nerdcore borrows heavily
from the legends of gangsta rap w ith its
boastful lyrics. But the rhymes in nerd
core songs are often meant to he taken
The main distinction between nerdcore
and traditional hip-hop is its lyrical con
tent, which references gecky topics from
Star I rek to Craigslist.org or just revels
in gecky irony.
Nerdcore has even spawned its ow n
subgenres, such as computer science
gangsta rap, typified by the music of
Purdue University doctoral candidate
Armand Navabi (aka MC Plus+).
Rapping about computer science
related issues, Plus+ has created a niche
market among computer science students
who understand his jargon-filled lyr
ics. Recently, however, Plus+ has faced
competition from Stanford University ’s
The feud between the two “C.S.
Gangstas” has brought publicity to the
SEE NERDCORE, PAGE 6
Slip Saily (Tor Jifri
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2005
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w BY BRYAN REED
*• STAFF WRITER
. Biggie and Tupac. Jay-/ and Nas.
w The Game and 50 Cent.
“ And now, MC Plus* and Mon/y.
v That's right nerds got beef.
- It all started with Stanford
>. Uni\ersity graduate student Mon/y s
first single, "So Much Drama in the
Ph.D.,” w hich features brutal disses
directed at Purdue’s premiere com
puter science gangsta, MC Plus K
In the song, Mon/y claims his "flow
is so intense that (he) w ill overflow
(Plus+'s) buffer," among other com
puter science-ladcn insults.
MC Plus+ reacted strongly to
Mon/y s recent insults.
"As far as the beef with Mon/y goes,
it cant go far because lie’s only got
one track,” say s MC Plus+. “1 le’s got
to put out more shit if he w ants to be
taken seriously. I haven't seen Mon/y
come out w ith any thing new."
His retaliation track, “Diss JAVA,”
has not officially been released, but
a leaked demo is available for down
load on w w w*.csgangstarap.com.
In the song, MC Plus+ samples Dr.
Die’s "Nothin' But A ‘G’ l liang,” and
calls Mon/y a "small-tinier’” and a
“nOOh" lnternet slang for a new
Despite the harsh words, both rap
pers acknowledge the publicity
benefits of their conflict.
SEE BEEF, PAGE 6 j