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Review: Nerdcore Hip-Hop Compilation CD Project 194

'Nerdcore' is a tricky thing to nail down. Some of it is simply novelty niche tracks with cheesy lyrics, and gimmicky derivative music. Some of it is inspired by trip-hop, others from 80s hip hop or 90s gangsta. A lot of it is really bad. And some of it is actually really good. Witty, sharp lyrics. Entertaining beats and excellent production value. You can hear all of these things on Rhyme Torrents Nerdcore Compilation. Read on for my review.

The best part is that this is all available freely as bittorrents. It'll take you many hours to wade through it all, but the gems in there make it worth the trip.

What I hear on these albums really runs a wide spectrum of music, both in terms of genre and production value. Some sound like a kid with his iMac and a mic. And there's others that sound just as produced as any mainstream studio release. Of course music is about more than how expensive of a mic you used: you'll hear "Good" songs in both groups.

Besides the fact that almost all of these tracks are 'Rap', if there is a unifying feature here it's that the songs are about nerdish things. You'll hear tracks reciting Pi, talking smack about operating systems, and games from Super Mario Bros to Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons. Much of the Post Dre rap you've heard celebrates the 'Gangsta' lifestyle. Personally I find much of this very hard to take seriously. Likewise, much of the lyrics just get campy. It's like a Weird Al mad libs lyric, where the rapper tries to rhyme whatever techish things pop into mind. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

MC Hawking is a great example. His track essentially an MC Battle style rap that relies on the synthesizer voice gimmick. But damnit it actually works. The lyrics are tight and amusing. I wish the hook was stronger, but thats a track I'll enjoy listening to.

Monzy's 'So Much Drama in the PhD' works as well. 'I run gmake and gcc / and i ain't never called malloc without calling free'. The parts come together really well. He might not be the best rapper you've ever heard, but I really enjoy the track. But the lyrics are ultimately that of a novelty song. Very entertaining with a good beat, but very niche.

Ytcracker's "In My Time" is just a fantastic track. You'll be hard pressed not to tap your foot. His lyrics are less obvious then most anything else on the rest of the album. He might be referencing the Atari 2600 or downloading porn to a USB pen, but you could play this track outside a compilation like this and it works. He's probably my favorite on the set. I had to snag more of his stuff from his web site, and it was interesting to see that his work is actually progressing. Having mined the most extreme end of the tech/geek world, his last few songs are stronger for it.

Another common theme here is liberal use of samples. Almost everything has samples from somewhere. You'll here the sound of Mario catching a mushroom integrated into the beats of tracks, and countless game theme songs and sound effects split apart and remixed. Sometimes it's just a gimmick. Other times it works musically. In addition to liberal use of sampling, copyright issues are a common theme in many tracks as well. Sometimes it's subtle, flippant references to downloading movies. But in the case of "Fuck the MPAA"... well, not so much in the way of subtle ;) Don't get me wrong- I got little warm fuzzies hearing sounds that i haven't heard in years, back from my childhood. But after 70 odd tracks, the novelty fades.

On a somewhat related notes, Googling a few of these artists and you'll find another common theme- the remix. Many of these artists feature remixes on their own sites done by others. Doing this definitely shows that a compilation like this is only the tip of the nerdcore iceberg.

It's also worth noting that there are a number of tracks that kinda don't fit. Foreign language stuff. Stuff that falls more into the pop category than hip hop. Some of these tracks are allright, but they feel out of place in this compilation. Like the Rappy McRapper track 'Lick Your Own Butthole Dance'. It's purely goofy silly stuff. Not bad mind you, but it simply doesn't fit. That said, I must have listened to that butthole song 10 times. It's so stupid I love it.

I sort all my music using iTunes '5 Star' thingee. Anything I rate 1-2 stars, I never want to hear again. 17 tracks here fell into that category. Anything 4-5 stars is stuff that goes into my uber playlist. I currently have 1174 songs in this playlist. Of the 4 CDs of music here, 15 songs made it to that playlist. Thats better then most music I listen to.

My suggestion- just download it. Listen to a couple tracks at a time. Don't listen to 15 in a row or it'll break you. Listening to someone rap about Warcraft and followed by one about rolling D20s gets old when strung together. But the best tracks on here stand tall, taking "Nerdcore" away from being simply silly novelty tracks ready for morning zoo radio and campus CS labs, and instead showing that the so called "Nerdcore" lifestyle can be celebrated in at least as interesting way as "Gangsta". The best tracks here do just that. Finding them is fun. A number of artists here are doing just that.

But at the end of the day, sometimes you just need to find a bit of music that you can relate to. And when you hear 'join me in the basement cuz it's warcraft patch day / time for D&D a frontalittle mainstay' day, so it's time to play D&D.... well, thats my Tuesday too. There's something odd about hearing it rapped about.

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Review: Nerdcore Hip-Hop Compilation CD Project

Comments Filter:
  • DDR Mario (Score:3, Funny)

    by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:41AM (#15705785) Journal

    I recently bought DDR Mario Mix for the Gamecube. While I'm not a fan of house/techno/trance/whatever music, I was impressed with the remix of some of the classic Mario songs. I'm waiting for one of these mixes to show up at the local dance club just to see how many people catch the underlying music:

    "Dude, why do I have the sudden urge to jump on top of your head?"

  • bling (Score:4, Funny)

    by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:42AM (#15705793)
    What does nerdcore need to bring it in the the mainstream?... MATERIAL ITEMS -- yes I'm referring to "bling". With the ultra-materialistic and ego-centric minds of the masses, having a piece of "bling" makes one feel special (just like everyone else). What will the nerdcore "bling" be? Diamond-studded pocket protectors? Gold-capped braces? Keyboards with hydraulics? Segways with rims?

    In all reality, I don't think nerdcore is geared to ever become mainstream... which is good, because mainstream usually means "mindless crap to please the masses and get them to buy things".
  • Re:Bah (Score:4, Funny)

    by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:58AM (#15705905)
    Yeah right, I'm sure CmdrTaco - founder and overlord of Slashdot - is just dying to be accepted as a true member of the 'nerd crowd' at Slashdot.
  • Re:Geez (Score:1, Funny)

    by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:05PM (#15705964)
    Anyone else stop giving a shit about this guy's opinion the moment they saw this?
  • by aendeuryu ( 844048 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:06PM (#15705970)
    Fingers to the keys to the code I be typing
    I'll bash that script, like a process I be sniping
    You're lamer than some h4x0r saying "Yo! Yo! Whatsup?!"
    I wish that somebody would terminate ya with a kill -HUP.
    I'm flying like Apache, you're slower than concrete.
    You're built like a gnome, and I ain't talking 'bout no suite.
    No shortcuts'll save you, your doom is complete
    No Alt-F4'll help you, no Ctl-Alt-Delete
    will stop this feat, you better believe it
    this ain't no superstition,
    I'll open all your ports and your hardrive repartition.

    So, you say you're fighting for the nerdcore crown...
    But I'd say that you're closer to a nerdcore clown.
    Pack it in, save your ass, yo H4x getthefuckouttadodge!
    You're a Beowulf unclustered, with its power cords dislodged.
    You're too l4me for this g4me, wanna fl4me? It's all the s4me
    Cuz you're an Apple 2c and I'm a mainframe.
    You're inept! Can't even play dead, you play sick.
    We couldn't pityyoumore if you were Visual Basic.
    You like that kid? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!
    It's a rout! I flout my stout clout with this cool cool cout
    and I'm out.
  • Re:bling (Score:2, Funny)

    by TheDreadSlashdotterD ( 966361 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:13PM (#15706028) Homepage
    Back in my day, boy, we wore motherboards around our necks, holstered dremel tools, and spike our hair with thermal grease.
  • by DigitalHammer ( 581235 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:15PM (#15706047) Journal
    motherboard cap?
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by fotoflojoe ( 982885 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:26PM (#15706125)
    ...if someone told me they listened to nerdcore, I'd think "what a geek"
    But it will help you ferzle your inner nerzle.
  • Re:Geez (Score:2, Funny)

    by Thalagyrt ( 851883 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:58PM (#15706792)
    Dream Theater rocks my socks. That is all. =P
  • Re:Geez (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:01PM (#15706815)
    Also, get off my damn lawn!

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton