Nerdcore Reload

Posted on February 8th, 2011

Filed under: Reviews — Karl Olson @ 7:07 pm

So, after MONTHS of scene internal hype, Nerdcore Now Volume 1 (edit: try their front page too,) the spiritual successor to old RhymeTorrents compilation series, has dropped with a couple of reviews and articles, all pretty positive on the compilation. Of course, it’s all nerd media staples giving it ink, some of which liked my contribution, and others which weren’t so hot on me.

However, since one of the many hats I wear is critic, I figure I’ll do a sentence or two on each of the contributions… after the break.

01. Beefy – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #01] Nerdcore Now
Klopfenpop’s mix isn’t perfect, but Beefy’s penchant for storytelling and surprisingly humble and honest perspective makes for a rousing start/short history of post-forum Nerdcore Hip Hop. Of course, Beefy’s an IRL friend, so I am quite biased, but still, this is objectively good music.

02. Supercommuter – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #02] Robot Party
While the production is a little dry even for 8-bit standards, you just can’t go wrong with Supercommuter; you’ll be tapping your toes and bobbing your head before the minute mark. It’s like a rap version of the Rentals.

03. The ThoughtCriminals – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #03] Warp Zone (1-2)
The dirty, almost early Wu-like beats get a light NES underpinning, while the lyrics deliver a nice blend of rap bravado and nerd cred.

04. The Future – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #04] Teleport
I’d love a less monophonic mix, but much like their live show, The Future throw down hard here. The sci-fi themes are deftly woven into a party anthem, some being smart while getting “dumb”.

05. Soup or Villainz – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #05] Live In The Arcade Ft. Danyeal McIntosh
Intensely clean production, and while the rhymes start a little chill, it all builds into a tribute to arcades that manages to hold it’s own in a genre with more than a few great love letters to arcades already.

06. Milk-Plus & Lady DKX – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #06] I Can Be Your Supervillain
Definitely feels like a rocked early MC Frontalot, and the mix be a hair wider to let the vox take center stage, but it’s definitely fun.

07. Adam Warrock – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #07] Nightcrawlin’
The vox are a little dry, but once the full mix drops in, it’s quite professional, and frankly, it’s a plain solid track. This is the kind of nerdcore that pulls nerds into Rap, and with good reason as it turns a classic piece of nerd pop-culture into a smooth rap jam.

08. Death*Star – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #08] Social Apothecary
I am terribly biased, as these guys are basically some of the tightest connects I’ve got into nerdcore, and they are in fact responsible for most of the live performance I’ve done in the past year or two. However, this means I’ve seen them level up hard. The track here is proof that – it’s not perfect, but it’s better than most anything on their album, which itself was a big jump over their CD-R EPs. However, fresh tracks like this demonstrate they are built to level up with every step.

09. Random – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #09] Sweeter Ft. Dale Chase
Plain awesome. Again, can’t say I’m not biased – I think the second you hang with an artist at a con, you lose objectivity. Seriously though, this track wouldn’t be out of place on HipHopNation or Shade45 or BCC1xtra every college radio Rap show on earth. It’s just that dope.

10. PovertyMan – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #10] Rap Cliche
This does border dangerous close to straight parody or satire, but the mix is solid, and evocative of early Jay-Z and NaS. Hard to not respect that quality.

11. Jake-bit – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #11] Redundant Me
Not sure if I feel the beat, the vox are little low in the mix, and it’s definitely Frontalot-style flow, but it’s solid. It’s some how catchy and well-produced; if this the low point in the compilation, Nerdcore has come a long way.

12. Illbotz – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #12] Give A Little Love
Smooth production, though I’d love a little extra vocal volume, especially since there some nice double speed turns of phrase.

13. XoC – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #13] A Seed Grows In Brooklyn
The vocals seem a little dark/dry, but it’s very conceptual and emotional. Calls to mind some of the darker work artists like Beefy and Frontalot. Actually, let me take a moment to note just how surprised I am to keep listing that Front comparison – that’s not tossed out lightly by me, and it may be a sign that were about have a wave of talent hit. This is good news.

14. Emergency Pizza Party – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #14] Never Going Back Ft. Rappy McRapperson & Shinobi Onibocho
EPP. Always doing something weird and different. I which the production was a bit hotter to let the excellent sample shine a little more. Still, they’ve kept to comedic approach, and they still hit that mark tightly. I’ve got say Rebel punch in a nicely Minaj-esque verse on top of it all.

15. Bizarro X-Men – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #15] Character Select
Oh, this is almost Dre-ish in the beat, until it becomes obvious that it sounds a bit like the LazyTown/LilJon remix. However, it displays such a nice line of hot rappers going hard that you can’t nit pick that much.

16. Ultraklystron – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #16] Bromance Dance
HORRIBLE. Wait NVM best song on the compilation in all ways. Truthfully, I had fun stacking the references and punchlines on this, and doing my best DMX on the hook, inspite of the fact it’s clearly an homage to Cash Money sonically, down to the Drakedown at the start of the second verse. Since I had fun, I call it a success.

17. Torrentz – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #17] Nerdcore International
Their is some serious compression distortion on this mix, but it’s pretty fresh. Certainly in it’s own lane with the funky, almost Chili Peppers-like/Beck-ish funk elements.

18. Klopfenpop – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #18] Don’t Panic Ft. MC 117, Milk-Plus & Diabeats
While this is dope, and pretty well done on the whole with solid rapping and reversioning of a great theme, it’s ultimately still up against the fact that Baddd Spellah did it first, and well, amazingly. Still, sans that data, it’s fun, and again, this is this kind of nerdcore that gets traction where it counts.

19. MC 117 – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #19] Bulbasaur
O hai there beat from “Flobots – Handlebars”. As fun as this track is, it’s definitely a parody. It’s not bad, but since the original is pretty geeky in it’s own right, it’s hard to get into. The original gets in the way of getting into it.

20. Untested Methods – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #20] Little Crow
Very evocative of Beck circa the Information/Guero, and that’s not at all bad thing. It’s probably the most unique track on the whole compilation, and it’s pretty rad as such.

21. Random – [Nerdcore Now Volume 1 #21] Fly (Klopfenpop Mix)
Random and 8-bit beats? Obvious quality.

TL;DR: This is a considerable improvement, especially taken on average, and it will hopefully encourage a baseline of quality control inside the scene. If nothing else, it’s a reality check for the genre – if this is the best we can do, and that’s impressive, great. If this is the best we can do and it’s still garbage, then there are some systemic problems. Truthfully, it’s not me who needs to be talking about this – we need more external ears, both in the nerd media and the hiphop media, to give this some attention and feedback, so we know where we stand.

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