Revenge of the Nerd(core): The Rise of Horn-Rimmed Hip-Hop


We thought we’d never see it, but the advent of nerd core is upon us, and it bears pen-names like MC Plus+, Doctor Popular, and the slightly-less-inspired MC Hawking and the Lords of the Rhymes. It sort of makes sense when you think about it: producer Dan the Automator paved the way with sci-fi rap genre hits like Dr. Octagon’s “Earth People” and the dystopian Deltron3030 collaboration. But even those were only nerdy in the loosest sense of the word. After the jump, our analysis of hip-hop’s horn-rimmed cousin, and a few names you need to know.

Kool Keith mostly raps about colors in outer space on Dr. Octagonecologyst, and Del the Funkee Homosapien’s rhymes on Deltron3030 tend to run along the lines of our thirteen-year-old brother’s deranged, geeky fantasies (“I want to devise a virus / to bring dire straits to your environment / crush your corporations with a mild touch / trash your whole computer system and revert you to papyrus”). Now, though, gamers and message board mainstays are finding their voice, coming out with hip-hop tunes that prioritize code-hacking and programming languages over the more traditional scrilla/ho’s line of acquisition.

Annie Masters, who raps as Fatty says it all with the line “Man, f*** street cred, I got leet speak geek cred” from “A World of Warcraft”. And if the YouTube comments are any indication, flaunting the nerd label requires a certain readiness for nerd insults like “get a life!” and “Nerd! Geek!” – looks like there will always be people who missed the part about “owning it”.

Despite this, the nerdcore MCs power through, proclaiming their place at the top of the forums, if not the social ladder. Optimus Rhyme brags, “I love the plain text so I guess it’s no wonder / I mastered it from symmetric to transitive.”

And take a look at MC Frontalot’s outfit as he performs the charmingly self-mocking “Braggadocio”, and – is that his cell phone or his mic battery clipped to his belt? While it might be hard for n00bs to relate, it’s not a bad way to study up on your lingo so you can hold your own next time the IT guys come to call.