Already Tried a SIGQUIT…

Posted June 5, 2006 at 7:25 pm 39 Comments

I have to admit that when I released my debut rap single about a year ago, I never considered “nerdcore” a legitimate musical genre. I may have presented it as such in my blog post, in which I linked to other nerdy rappers whom I admired, but this was mostly because I’ve been indoctrinated into the academic tradition of giving credit to “related work.” Certainly there were a variety of geeky rap artists writing songs about topics like anime, computers, video games, and role-playing, but I doubt that most of them would have identified themselves as “nerdcore.” At that time, many of these artists were not aware of the other nerd rappers populating the Internet, and I suspect that some of them would have taken offense at the “nerd” label. MC Plus+, for example, did not identify his music as nerdcore, describing himself instead as a “CS gangsta.”

But then came the Wired article, which adopted the same tone as my blog post and declared that a variety of artists were “nerdcore” whether they knew it or not. Another item in the Daily Tarheel followed suit, and then one on cool.com.au, and more like them that began with greater and greater frequency to portray nerdcore as a genre, a musical “scene,” or even a nerd “movement.”

Geekapalooza

My performance at Geekapalooza.

These descriptions in the media were not particularly accurate, given that the nerdcore “movement” was really just a handful of people with web pages and blogs who emailed MP3s to each other. Nevertheless, they gave a certain credence to the idea of a collective of nerd artists banding together to start a musical trend. Artists increasingly began identifying themselves as “nerdcore,” and as awareness of the nerdcore label increased, many aspiring rappers jumped in and began recording songs.

I regard the nerdcore “movement” with a certain ambivalence. The great thing about nerdcore is that anyone can do it — its self-publishing ethic means that all you need to be a “nerdcore artist” is a microphone and a pirated copy of Adobe Audition. The horrible thing about nerdcore is that anyone can do it — even those with little originality or talent.

MC Frontalot, who is generally portrayed as the “godfather” of nerdcore (having coined the term many years back) is an extraordinarily skilled rapper who puts a tremendous amount of effort into his lyrics and his recordings. Meanwhile, scores of copycats have jumped onto the nerdcore bandwagon by recording low-quality tracks with little artistic merit, diluting the genre with their hackneyed rap attempts. I shudder to imagine what the average person might think of the nerdcore “movement” were his first exposure to the field to be the music of a goofball like Rappy McRapperson (consciously atrocious) or an uninspired imitator like Ill Engineer (also shitty, but unintentionally so).

There’s also the larger question of whether nerdcore is a parody of hip-hop or an homage. Much of mainstream rap music is insipid and unimaginative, constantly repeating the same tired themes, so I can understand the appeal of satirizing it. However, there’s a lot of great rap out there as well, and as someone who regularly listens to and thoroughly appreciates “real” rap music, my personal intent is not to ridicule the genre as a whole, or to poke fun at hip-hop culture. While the majority of nerdcore hip-hop does incorporate humor, the type of nerdcore that I admire the most has lyrics that are funny in their own right, and not because they mock mainstream rap music.

Above all, it’s in the nature of nerds to be inclusive. When a new kid transfers to your school, if he tries to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids, they won’t have anything to do with him, but if he sits down at the nerd table, they’ll welcome him. Being at the bottom of the social hierarchy leaves nerds little room to criticize, and the tendency to be tolerant and non-judgmental is one of the nerd traits I admire. So on one hand I understand why the new nerdcore compilation features a whopping 55 artists, many of whom had never previously produced a single track; on the other hand, I fear that this policy of blanket inclusion may cause the rappers with actual talent to be buried amidst a tide of crap. Rhyme Torrents (Beefy Cover)
So, with that decidedly mixed review, I direct you to the first ever nerdcore compilation album, Rhyme Torrents, slated for release tomorrow and soon available for download. I will say that despite my misgivings about the project, the first disc contains some awesome hip-hop. I was blown away by the hilarious rhymes in Shael Riley‘s tightly produced “Miss Information,” which spreads outrageous lies about some of nerdcore’s major players (apparently I am actually Ice Cube). I was also immensely impressed by ytcracker‘s “White Warrior,” a hard-hitting dis track targeted at mc chris, who has recently taken some flak in the nerdcore community for declining to participate in the compilation project. The infectious tracks by Beefy (“Tub of Tabasco”) and MC Hawking (“Rock Out with your Hawk Out”) are definitely worth a listen, and of course I recommend you check out the new song that I recorded for the compilation, Kill Dash Nine (lyrics here). Invoking the kill command with the -9 flag is the Unix equivalent of “terminate with extreme prejudice,” and I think it also makes for a catchy hook. Crank up the volume and shout along the next time you need to vent some of your repressed geek rage. Rhyme Torrents (DJ Snyder Cover)

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  1. I’m really looking forward to hearing the album through a couple of times.

    I agree that the album would probably have benefited from more selective editing. I wouldn’t envy the dude that would have to cut and select the tracks that make it on to a monster comp like this.

    So far, I’m really digging Shael’s track, and a bunch of the verses off of the posse track… Man, if that shit was under ten minutes, it’d be a hit.

    What do you think of Dr. Octagon’s inclusion on the comp?

    Comment by Doc Pop — June 5, 2006 #

  2. As a pioneer of alternative hip-hop, Dr. Octagon certainly lends an air of legitimacy to the project, but I don’t think I would describe his work as “nerdcore.” Of course, the definition of “nerdcore” is so elusive that I suppose what it comes down to is how the artist identifies himself.

     

    I’m not sure how Dr. Octagon got involved in the compilation — was he pulled in to add credibility to the undertaking, despite his less-than-nerdy style? Or did he jump in himself and readily adopt the “nerdcore” label?

    Comment by monzy — June 6, 2006 #

  3. I’ve never laughed so hard at a song intro than when I heard the one on Kill Dash Nine.

    Bitch.

    Comment by Beefy — June 7, 2006 #

  4. I’d say Octagon was one of the very first NCHH artists, along with MC 900 Foot Jesus and others. Pop Will Eat Itself come to mind.

    He’s pretty damn geeked, out, if you ask me. ; ) Have you ever heard “Earth People”, for instance?

    But nerdcore means different things to different people, obviously. Thanks for the nice write-up.

    Comment by High-C — June 7, 2006 #

  5. Thank you for making it all happen. Bringing together such a diverse collection of artists was no small feat. I know I expressed some skepticism about a nerdcore “movement,” but you’ve definitely done more than anyone else to transform nerdcore from a collection of webpages into a real community. You deserve props for that, regardless of any criticism people may have about the album.

    Comment by monzy — June 7, 2006 #

  6. Hi Monzy,

    I suppose derision is some sort of notice.

    Well, I suppose as a beginning rapper I stick to the conventions of the genre (hackneyed or not) while working to improve the purely technical aspects of flow and production, maybe akin to learning grammar and spelling before attempting literature.

    Certainly if I have shittiness in my music, it’s unintentional! I hope not to make something intentionally shitty. But, with time, I hope that I get better until my tracks are filled with, uhh, “awesomeness” instead.

    ~Ill

    Comment by Ill Engineer — June 8, 2006 #

  7. Aww, now I feel guilty for being mean. Really your rhymes and production aren’t all that bad, and it’s nice to see some new players in the CS rap game. But what do you expect when your first foray into the field insults me and MC Plus+? We’re not about to give you glowing reviews. If you newcomers showed us more established CS rappers some respect, we might be nicer back. But hey, stay “Ill,” and don’t let my dismissal discourage you. It would be hypocritical for me to fault you for your appoach, given that I came out gunning on my first track.

    Comment by monzy — June 8, 2006 #

  8. Heh heh, say what!?
    Don’t feel guilty – it’s all part of the business, isn’t it? I mean, ‘the business’.
    Aww no, now I’m going to have to keep writing newcomer dis rhymes to make sure you stay mean for a while.

    Comment by Ill Engineer — June 8, 2006 #

  9. […] Monzy did a great job of explaining it on his blog, but I just want to throw in my two cents, nickels, and a quarter. This collection obviously has it’s highlights, but there is so much crap on this collection it’s insane. I’m all for noobies, but let them pound cyber pavement and take their hits before you put this album out. Including them is the nice thing to do, but not the smart thing to do. I’m sorry, but I didn’t care for a lot of them. Some of these people have stupid gimmicks, sub-Beefy production, and one in particular who thinks he’s Snoop Dogg. And the only reason I feel the least bit bad about saying these things is that these are all nice enough people, but they need to grow as artists. Putting them on a collection like this opens them up to criticism they may not be ready for. […]

    Pingback by Beefyness.com » My Rhyme Torrents Review/Commentary — June 8, 2006 #

  10. Hey man, kill-9 is a great cut, and one to which I have been rocking out lately.

    When you refer to CLR and CLRS I assume you mean the two editions of the famous textbook “Intro to Algorithms,” is this correct? The first time I heard it I thought CLS meant the DOS command to clear the screen..I only own a copy of CLRS since CLR was a little before my time.

    Oh yeah and also in the PhD song you refer to having power like a multi-tape TM. IMO a multi-tape turing machine has no more computational power (in terms of the set of computations it can do) than a single tape TM….I guess if you are a complexity-theorist then the two are not equivalent…

    Anyway you rock man peace out.

    Comment by Rob — June 8, 2006 #

  11. Thanks Rob! I was indeed referencing the classic algorithms textbook. Since I took algorithms back in 1999, I actually have the “old and busted” first edition, CLR, but the “new hotness” CLRS came out in 2001.

    You’re correct that a multi-tape Turing Machine has no more computational power than a single-tape Turing Machine (the former can be simulated using the latter). I guess I should have considered this, but hey, sometimes you need three extra syllables. At least the line isn’t technically incorrect, just a bit redundant.

    Comment by monzy — June 8, 2006 #

  12. so what about us? what did you think about us?

    Comment by mc router — June 8, 2006 #

  13. Hey Router! The beat on “Emulation Station” is tight, and you spit your rhymes with attitude, which I appreciate. Some of the other artists on the compilation sound rigid, delivering their lines in an emotionless monotone, as if they were reading a spec sheet. I can tell that you’re really feeling it, and you stay on rhythm, which is more than can be said for many nerdcore hopefuls.

     

    I think some of your lyrics could be reworked to flow more smoothly, and a few of your rhymes are awkward. But in general I dig your music, and you guys definitely add to the compilation rather than detracting from it.

    Comment by monzy — June 9, 2006 #

  14. thank you so much for your feedback.
    yeah i know i need to work on some of my lines and how they transition to the next but on my newest track im working on i think i really excercise smoother transitions.

    thnaks again monz.

    Comment by mc router — June 9, 2006 #

  15. For the most part I agree with your review on the compilation. High points and low points, but I’m most puzzled by the inclusion of tracks that aren’t even rap–I thought it was supposed to be a nerdcore hip-hop compilation, emphasis on the hip-hop.

    Rai, while sounding great… well, I’m fairly sure most that download the compilation will have no clue what the songs are about (I sure don’t).

    Ham-STAR actually has good lyrics but the voice just sounds like be a MC Chris ripoff and just ends up being a stupid gimmick.

    And Benjamin Bear… WHY? Was High-C not wanting to turn people down for the compilation or something?

    The high points? ytcracker, 1337 G33K B3AT, Monzy, MC++, and MC Front-a-lot. I thought Nursehella’s track was quite well done as well, but who knows if she can do as well without the support of Baddd Spellah.

    The 2nd volume isn’t as good. Again, we’ve got greats such as ytcracker and Optimus Rhyme, with some great tracks from less well known artists such as “Myf feat. Masta Cwik – Top Secret” and “ShoNuff – S-H-O”. There are a few middling-good tracks (“Sir-Up – A Student After M” “Bedlam Rock Pavement – Make Your Next Move”) and then a slew of tracks that I listened to once or twice and just can’t get myself to listen to again.

    Emergency Pizza Party? DoomsDay Device? MC Wreakshun? They need a lot of work before they should have their tracks featured like this.

    I haven’t listened to the 3rd volume enough yet to pass judgement, but so far it’s about half/half good bad.

    If there is to be another compilation, there needs to be a peer review from artists such as ytcracker, MC Front-a-lot, and Beefy before tracks are accepted. While I enjoy the compilation overall, it could do to have about half the tracks dropped.

    Comment by ender — June 9, 2006 #

  16. Thank you, Ender. You seem to have hit all of Beefy’s talking points nicely.

    I was mostly wondering what makes Ill Engineer “shitty” to you, Monzy? He has good production, good lyrics, his flow is considerably less wooden than yours or MC Plus+’s old material. A pretty solid debut, I thought.

    And as for taking issue with a diss track, let’s get serious, here. You’re mostly known for dissing Plus+, and vice versa. It’s a natural that new MCs would take cracks at both of you. Don’t forget your roots, either as nerdcore, or as hip-hop.

    At any rate, I appreciate the overall support for the project. Sure I could have made a single CD featuring the biggest names in nerdcore, but I don’t see the point. If you only want to hear established artists, go buy their CDs, I say.

    What excites me at least as much as the new tracks from previously known nerdcore artists are all the great unknowns I’m bringing exposure to. I don’t know exactly why Beefy and his entourage are taking continued potshots at Benjamin Bear, but thankfully his tracks speak for themselves, and I quite enjoy them, personally.

    Comment by High-C — June 12, 2006 #

  17. For the record, Jones is the only member of my entourage. I wasn’t the first person to have these thoughts, I just voiced em. Ender even went on to talk about the other volumes which I didn’t do.

    With two exceptions, the people I talked about in my post took it very well and I was even e-mailed by an artist asking how I thought their music could improve. Even Ham-Star took his hits from me with a grain of salt and I’ve never respected him more. Hell, even Nursehella got over the things I said about her.

    High-C and Ben Bear were the only ones who thought I went too far. But they talk shit better than I do and I don’t want there to eventually be “We Hate Beefy” songs made, so I took my post down in the hopes that it would all stop. I don’t doubt that BBear has his set of fans, maybe they just don’t read these sites. I just don’t think you should imply that these people are just saying these things because I did.

    Comment by Beefy — June 12, 2006 #

  18. monzy sure is a qt

    Comment by mc router — June 13, 2006 #

  19. just out of honest curiosity, how did you like my track, monzy?

    Comment by myf — June 13, 2006 #

  20. Hi, I like your songs “So much drama in the PhD” and “Kill Dash Nine” very much! I have read the article at EE times and it claims that you have songs “Perfect Hashing” and “Strongly NP-Hard”, and MCPLus+ has a song where he disses you, but I cannot find any more information (or downloads) for these songs… Are they available anywhere?

    Comment by eryxyre — June 14, 2006 #

  21. Monzy also has a very funny rap about grammar from a LONG time ago, but he never brings that up.

    Comment by Brad — June 20, 2006 #

  22. In “Kill Dash Nine”, you sing:

    “I’m 26 now, will I live to see 28?
    Some days I wonder if I’ll survive to graduate.”

    You probably intended it as age, but I think it works better if it’s 2.6 and 2.8, the linux kernel major version number.

    Comment by cdep_illabout — July 31, 2006 #

  23. […] The great thing about nerdcore is that anyone can do it — its self-publishing ethic means that all you need to be a “nerdcore artist” is a microphone and a pirated copy of Adobe Audition. The horrible thing about nerdcore is that anyone can do it — even those with little originality or talent. monzy.com » Already Tried a SIGQUIT…   […]

    Pingback by BlogBites. like sound bites. but without the sound. — August 9, 2006 #

  24. Hey Monzy, like lots of people, I randomly came across your song and I was skeptical when I downloaded them. I think they’re great though! If you ever publish a packaged CD, I’d def pay for it

    Comment by Mike — August 20, 2006 #

  25. I hate to say this Monzy, but Chip Hop owned this new song. The whole yelling the chorus thing…it doesn’t really do it for me (I did get a kick out of the intro though). Maybe if you release more than three songs (like MC Plus+) you’ll be taken more seriously.

    Comment by Gamer_2k4 — September 28, 2006 #

  26. Wait a second…I just read these posts. You honestly consider yourself an established CS rapper? You’ve written three songs, and two of them are about how much MC Plus+ sucks (which is understandable if you only listen to his first album). If you’re so established, why haven’t you released any albums?

    Comment by Gamer_2k4 — September 28, 2006 #

  27. You are by far the best I’ve heard so far. I know you’re a busy dude… and apparently well connected… I look forward to your first album.

    Comment by jpongin — December 14, 2006 #

  28. […] Wat als Geeks aan het rappen slaan? In het genre “nerdcore” krijg je dan dit: […]

    Pingback by Serge van Ginderachter » Blog Archive » kill-dash-nine — December 15, 2006 #

  29. Monzy,

    I wanted to let you know about the slideshow/”Music Video” I made… I hope you don’t mind!… for “Kill Dash Nine”… it can be seen here:

    http://www.jumpcut.com/view?id=1D47134A798811DB9A193EF340157CF2

    Again, I hope you enjoy it… I’d love to do one for “So Much Drama in the PhD” as well, as long as you don’t mind…

    Thanks,
    Jeremy

    Comment by JeremyVS — January 9, 2007 #

  30. I’d love to add some guitar over that track to give it some street cred.

    Comment by ampguy — March 8, 2007 #

  31. […] I don’t normally blog NSFW stuff, but this is simply too funny to suppress. And I know I’m late to the party: this stuff appeared last June – but if I missed it, perhaps you did too. I’ll put it below the fold, though. Dave Dice from Sun asked “Would you consider it good or bad if you understand all or most of the references in kill-dash-nine song?”. I checked it out, and I think I got them all. However it was hard to be sure, because I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s gangsta rap (complete with all the expletives) using geek language. Eventually I found my way to the rapper’s blog, and discovered that I’d encountered “nerdcore”. There is even a nerdcore compilation album, Rhyme Torrents, now up to six volumes (and an EP), all available through BitTorrent. […]

    Pingback by Geoff Arnold » Blog Archive » Kill Dash Nine — March 11, 2007 #

  32. It’s like the Beastie Boys rhyming to the BOFH script!

    Comment by Amayita — March 15, 2007 #

  33. […] Monzy (the guy who did the last 2 songs I linked) also has written something about the ”nerdcore scene” over at his blog. I personally like him the most of all those nerdcore rappers because his songs are mainly about computer science and have pretty well done analogies/similies. (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … […]

    Pingback by Sooo much Nerdcore (aka Nerd Rap) at Marcs Blog — April 17, 2007 #

  34. I found this by searching for Unix on Youtube. I wrote an explanation of the more obscure references. Some good stuff indeed. When you get a full album, I’m buying it. I checked out MC++ out of curiosity and it was all I could do to listen to the first 20 seconds. Any other nerdcore out there with substance?

    Comment by Charlie Bader — May 12, 2007 #

  35. Charlie, thanks for the writeup. I’d caught most of the references in the song, but a couple, like
    “fs sa rlidwka”, I would never have caught (what I get for doing my undergrad at RPI instead of CM). One that could do with a little clarification: In the EMACS editor, Ctrl-X followed immediately by Ctrl-C discards any changes to the current buffer and closes the program (“Control-X Control-C I’ll discard your fucking buffer!”). You must be a vi guy (actually, I am too).

    Cheers,
    Howard

    Comment by Howard Clements — June 2, 2007 #

  36. […] From Monzy’s website, “Invoking the kill command with the -9 flag is the Unix equivalent of ‘terminate with extreme prejudice,’ and I think it also makes for a catchy hook…” […]

    Pingback by You gotta run kill -9…lets go! — June 27, 2007 #

  37. Much love >.>
    I stumbled across MC Frontalot some time ago, and from there I branched out into many different musicians. Beefy, BBear, Optimus Rhyme, MC Hawking, l337 g33k b34t, Drown Radio, Frontalittle Squad, High-C, Jesse Dangerously, Krondor Krew, MagiTeck, MC Lars, Metamystiks, Monzy, Shael Riley, YTCracker, Zealous1. Despite having only heard a few songs by each of you, I’m a huge fan of the genre. Those names are just a few of my favorites, from experienced to newbies, across the board. I’m spreading the good word, and you’re sprouting in Kansas! Hope to see some of you here some day.

    Rhyme Torrents are amazing, and I think it’s great that even the less talented are given a shot. After all, it’s free, and you can’t grow if you’re never planted.

    Comment by Dronus — July 7, 2007 #

  38. […] toto je pecka 😉 Je tam aj mp3 na download. Tuná video a lyrics […]

    Pingback by Life, Universe and Everything ;-) » kill -9 — July 18, 2008 #

  39. I stumbled upon Kill Dash Nine in second year in CS at canterbury Uni, when googling for some help with threading and forking in Linux.

    It had to be the most appropriate song to listen to while doing my tutorial possible!!!

    Big ups for the talented rap, made my day, 2 years on, I stumbled upon your rhymes again, and still loving it!!! Drama in the PHD is gold!

    Cheers,

    David from New Zealand

    Comment by David van Dugteren — May 26, 2010 #

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