When I recorded “Drama in the PhD,” I never expected it to generate quite so much Internet buzz. I think it started when Brad Fitzpatrick, the creator of LiveJournal, described it quite flatteringly in his blog as the “best fucking thing I’ve ever heard.” Various dorks posted line-by-line analyses of my lyrics on their websites, griping about the technical specifics of my jokes: “He really shouldn’t say he controls his flow better than TCP,” one nerd wrote, “since TCP doesn’t have very good flow control to begin with.” My dis track even inspired a cover by a student at the University of Delaware, though I can’t say that he did a particularly great job. All of the attention soon led to an article on Wired.com, discussing my not-so-bitter rivalry with MC Plus+.
Shortly after the article was published, a TV producer from LA decided to do a piece on nerd rap for German television (specifically, a lifestyle show on Pro Sieben called “Taff”). She asked to come to Stanford to film me and my “geek posse” in our natural habitat, explaining that she intended to present geek rap as a new American trend while juxtaposing it with gangsta rap in an entertaining way.
I quickly agreed to participate, but realized shortly after I got off the phone with her that I didn’t actually have a “geek posse” per se. But after a few emails I managed to recruit some friends who were excited enough about getting on an obscure German TV spot that they were willing to join my entourage. We dressed up in ridiculous “geek rapper” outfits and traveled around campus doing stupid things, like soldering circuit boards while drinking forties, beating up an old CRT, and cruising down Palm Drive on our bikes while scribbling on our PDAs and Tablet PCs. As far as I know the clip has yet to air on German TV, but Jawed recorded a pretty cool “making of” video that you can check out.
For me, the funniest part of the shoot was that the cameraman and interviewer clearly had no idea what any of my lyrics were about.
“OK,” the cameraman would say, “we’re going to shoot that again, and this time I’m doing a close-up, so when you say ‘suck on these nuts bitch’ I want you to make sure you do that gesture again where you point at your crotch.”
“Actually it’s ‘mark-and-sweep on these nuts,’” I corrected him.
“Yeah, it’s a garbage collection algorithm, for reclaiming unreferenced objects to prevent memory leaks.”
“OK, never mind that, just remember to point at your crotch when you say ‘suck on these nuts bitch.’”
The same thing happened when I was being interviewed. The producer asked me how my music combined the elements of computer science and gangsta rap, and I said “well, for example, in the music world when someone is ‘unsigned’ it means they haven’t signed a contract with a record label. But in computer science an unsigned integer is one that’s always interpreted as positive; the most significant bit is used to double the positive range instead of specifying the sign.”
“That’s a little complicated,” she said, “do you have a simpler example?”
“OK,” I said, “uh, in computer science, ‘linear probing’ is a technique for resolving collisions in hash tables, but clearly in this context it’s referring to sex.”
“I don’t get it,” she said.
“Well, a hash table is this data structure with efficient…”
“No, I mean I don’t get how linear probing refers to sex.”
But despite the occasional miscommunication, the TV shoot was a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing how the clip turns out.
The latest event in this string of unexpected publicity was a request for an interview in the “Q&A” section of EE Times. MC Plus+ and I were both interviewed about our rivalry and about CS gangsta rap in general; I believe the story is slated to appear in this week’s issue. The magazine sent a photographer to Stanford and Purdue to take pictures of me and of MC Plus+, and I think they turned out really well.
Anyway, in the midst of all of this hype I decided it was inexcusable that I hadn’t recorded a rap song since last April, so today I laid down a new track entitled “The Pimping Lemma.” It’s a tribute to the brave women of computer science. Like last time, I’ll post the lyrics for you to puzzle through; it’s up to you to look up any rap terms or CS terms with which you may be unfamiliar.