Nerds Take Over The Music Scene
Love, sex, war and politics—these are all topics musicians have been writing about for years, and we’re all used to hearing them. Rarely, if ever, do you turn on the radio and hear a song about Pokémon, Star Wars or Captain America, but that could be changing.
Nerdcore, by its simplest definition is a genre of music made by nerds, for nerds, about nerdy things.
While its origins date back to the early 90’s, “nerdcore” didn’t become popular until the 2000’s when hip-hop artist MC Frontalot started using the term to describe his nerdy rhymes.
Many music lovers today have yet to hear of the genre, and those who have often don’t take it seriously—writing it off as novelty music. This is just one of the many struggles artists in this genre face on the daily.
Another common misconception surrounding nerdcore music is that it’s only hip-hop and rap. Hip-hop and rap may be more prominent, but there are nerdy rock and metal bands as well, such as Nerfherder. And Powerglove, who make heavy metal covers of video game theme songs.
The nerdcore scene is far more vibrant in the US, but Canada has its celebrities too. One of the most notable Canadian nerdcore artists is Wordburglar—a Halifax native. Also out of Halifax is Jesse Dangerously, who is associated with the nerdcore scene mostly due to his nerdy exterior. However, Dangerously’s clever, nerdy lyrics won him Best Local MC in 2006 and again in 2007.
Also popular in the scene are MC Frontalot, MC Chris and MC Lars. MC Chris is well known for his song, Fett’s Vette, which gained popularity when it was featured in the Kevin Smith film, Zach and Miri Make a Porno.
According to local nerdcore artist, Tyler Boyco, the nerdcore scene is highly competitive and full of inter-nerd feuds—causing many to shy away from the label. Even notable artists like MC Lars often avoid using the term nerdcore to describe themselves, although they still fit into the genre by its simplest definition.
Comic books, movies and videogames are often associated with the nerdcore style, and for nerdy rock band, Double Experience (DBXP) videogames and music go hand in hand.
It’s not just singing about video games, but actually playing them with their fans that’s the most fun for DBXP. The Brockville natives advertise their Psn code, and encourage fans to join them on the battlefield in Call of Duty.
The band even has a Ps3 installed in their tour van.
“Playing with our fans is a great ice breaker because our relationship with them can last so much more beyond a show or on social media.” said Brock Tinsley—lead guitarist for Double Experience. “Gaming is real-time interaction, and you can learn a lot about someone by what games they like and how they play them.”
While writing songs about things like comics, movies and video games sounds like a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of hard work. Locally, Tyler Boyco and Keith Brewster of nerdcore band Big Damn Heroes have had trouble booking shows. Promoters in the area say the guys aren’t hip-hop enough, based on the lyrical content of their songs. Not being taken seriously is a struggle most artists in this genre face.
Keith Brewster has mixed views about the nerdcore scene. “I mean I like doing it, but nobody takes you seriously,” Brewster said. “The entire Nerdcore scene is a black hole—anyone who becomes associated with it will never escape that niche.”
Wanting to avoid the nerdcore niche doesn’t stop nerdy musicians from writing nerdy songs about nerdy things for nerdy people. Lyrics are an essential part of this style of music.
When you discover a genre called nerdcore, you might think that everyone is open and friendly, but that’s just not the case.
“It’s just like any other scene in the sense that you have people trying to keep other people down,” says Boyco, the nerdy rapper of Big Damn Heroes. Unlike other music genres, listeners often view nerdcore songs as comedy skits and not as serious musicians producing actual music. In reality nerdcore artists put days of work into each song, and writing in this style is arguably more work than some of the mainstream music that’s on the radio.