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Steve Holetz is co-producer of www.bonehand.com, Home of The BoneBat Show

I
nspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes it eludes us no matter how hard we reach for it and sometimes we might look at two dissimilar items in a new way because the combination results in something truly original. Living with a crochet designer, I see examples of this all the time. I'm always amazed at my wife's ability to juxtapose materials like vintage fabric and baling twine, and merge them into art.
I often see this same sort of creativity in music. In the same way that Julie will wander through a thrift shop and walk away filled with new ideas, 2500 miles away in NYC Nerdcore Rapper MC Frontalot walks the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood and soaks up the inspiration that so often informs his music. Frontalot is one of the founders of nerdcore rap, a musical genre that takes the rhythm of hip hop and combines it with nerd-friendly subjects like Sci-Fi, video games and comic books, without concern of being cool, the hallmark of geek culture.
In a feature on Freestyle 101, a hip hop webisode series on the G4 network, the rapper said "where I live now in New York... there are just... little groups of folks on the street corners everywhere doing the most amazing free-styling, and I pretend that I gotta buy a soda…and I'll eavesdrop on them. They are really incredible…and these guys are doing it for free. I just need to figure out a way to wire a system of microphones and tubes and dump trucks to get this data out to the people who would enjoy it if only they knew."

MC Lars & YT Cracker
But nerdcore wasn't the only musical offering of that particular evening. Shortly before this fantastic concert, I crossed the Seattle streets and stumbled across a gathered crowd on a nearby street corner. I joined the throng to watch a group of kids who had connected a car battery to a large guitar amp, which was also connected to a Nintendo Gameboy and the thumbs of one of the musicans. It didn't take long before the crowd was dancing and hopping to a chirping, beeping melody set to a driving techno-esque beat. This was my first exposure to the genre of chiptunes, a style of music built around computer or video game sounds and hardware.
As the set progressed, the players would switch places, and gameboys, in the same way that rappers might pass the mic, with each musican adding his own flavor to the performance. The group that was rocking the street corner is known as the Lo-Tek Resistance, a Seattle chiptune group organized by local musician Fighter X. He's been the coordinator of these impromptu concerts at Penny Arcade Expo for the past several years. As the crowd continued to grow, I left for the concert venue and the infectious beeping followed me through the night air.
As luck would have it, the first sounds to hit my ears at the evening's MC Frontalot concert would come from the opening act, Anamanaguchi, who build their incredibly catchy guitar-driven rock around melodies from the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I experienced a more polished chiptune iteration which contrasted with the rough and ready version I had just seen, and adding another unforgettable facet to the evening's entertainment.
I don't know how it first occurred to these musicians to merge hip hop and nerd culture, or to trade riffs between an electric guitar and an NES, but the results of such unbridled creativity are exhilirating. Where will this all this inventiveness lead? Who knows? Maybe it will inspire Skamama to crochet me a Space Invaders Hat. But the important thing to take away is this: As you walk down your street, don’t forget to look and listen to the world around you. You never know where inspiration will find you next.
Selected Resources:

MC Frontalot: LINK
"Nerdcore Rising" CD (2005)
"Secrets From The Future" CD (2006)
"Final Boss" CD (2008)
"Nerdcore Rising: The Movie" DVD (2009)
Freestyle 101: MC Frontalot

Penny Arcade Expo
http://www.paxsite.com/paxeast/index.php


MC Lars: LINK
"Single and Famous" (2009)
"This Gigantic Robot Kills" (2009)
"Digital Gangster" CD w/ YTCracker (2008)
"The Graduate" (2006)

Anamanaguchi: LINK
"Dawn Metropolis" CD 2009
"Power Supply" FREE DOWNLOAD 2006:
http://www.8bitpeoples.com/discography/by/anamanaguchi
Since MC Frontalot first coined the term nerdcore, on his debut album "Nerdcore Rising", the genre has given birth to a number of artists that share this view. YT Cracker combines unparalleled free-styling with a ninja-like ability to perform anywhere at any time. MC Lars melds rap with a post-punk sound, adding literary lyrics inspired by Moby Dick and Poe's The Raven, and metric system adoption to create a scholarly, yet head-bobbing, mix. Optimus Rhyme, now defunct but never forgotten, employed the most nimble and funky of live bands to keep up with rapper Wheelie H. Cyberman's unceasing torrent of rhymes.
Each of these artists are connected to, and by, the internet and this has helped them to build a community where they both collaborate with one another and use their online communities as an invaluable asset for the proliferation of their music. "Luckily, now, we have internets to... realign the model from music industry, offering us the most broadly appealing stuff... to people hearing things that are interesting," MC Frontalot continues in Freestyle 101, "...and it makes me want to give it to you and you, and now there's this whole push model of content where everybody is emailing each other the awesomest new thing they just heard. The crème of that crop may rise to the top of pop stardom because what they are doing is so incredible it can't be ignored."
In addition to online promotions and collaborations, another platform for the nerdcore movement has been a series of concerts held at The Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, the annual gaming convention organized by the creators of the Penny Arcade web comic. MC Frontalot headlined this past September, playing to one of his largest and most appreciative crowds - as a conquering hero.
Anamanaguchi
YTCracker: LINK
"Digital Gangster" CD w/ MC Lars (2008)
"Nerd Life" CD (2006)
"Nerdrap Entertainment System"
 - FREE DOWNLOAD (2005)
http://www.ytcracker.com/nes/
Optimus Rhyme: LINK
"Optimus Rhyme" (2004)
"School the Indie Rockers" (2006)

Lo Tek Resistance
Free Compilation (2009)




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COMMENTS (10):

Having read this: "Each of these artists are connected to, and by, the internet and this has helped them to build a community where they both collaborate with one another and use their online communities as an invaluable asset for the proliferation of their music." My comment is...I feel this way about the internet and crochet. I finally feel a part of a crochet "community" on Rav. I finally have people to talk to about crochet and exchange ideas.
- , 2010-03-31 09:28:00


Cool- I'll have to check out this music!
- Larissa B, 2010-03-27 01:12:29


I'm fascinated. As the mother of several nerds (I wonder how they got that way...?) who are also musicians, I can't wait to find out their take on "Nerdcore".
- Sandra T, 2010-03-01 09:11:07


An article about Nerdcore is quite possibly one of the last things I would have expected after finding Tension. MC Frontalot, YTCracker and fiber art? This might be too much joy for one person to handle...
- Sharon D, 2010-03-01 02:13:49


Anamanaguchi = the best band name I have heard in a while
- sarah c, 2010-02-26 08:24:41


Cool article! It's so exciting to be able to witness the initial call and response b/t music and culture when a new genre emerges. P.S. Skamama should totally crochet you that Space Invaders Hat. TOOTL can see to that, if you like ;)
- , 2010-02-17 01:56:08


A whole new world opens up. Time to go check out some new tunes. Thanks for sharing insights into this world! paula
- Paula B, 2010-02-11 01:23:33


I just recently watched a documentary about MC Frontalot. Love it!
- Amy M, 2010-02-08 03:47:59


This is so cool to hear about, and really isn't covered even in the gaming community. These people (I am assuming they aren't ALL guys) need some crocheted Space Invader hats for sure! :) One of my favorite things is public live music, I would love to experience this at any con!
- carmelvineyard, 2010-02-03 06:24:49


The ingenuity & creativity of artists never ceases to amaze me.
- nancy a, 2010-02-03 07:18:00





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