13.4.10

MC Frontalot: Nerdcore for the Masses

I like music. I've never been shy about my musical tastes at any point either when I was in or out of a band. I can basically listen to anything under the sun, with the exception of country/western music. For some reason, that music just rubs me like broken glass in an open wound, but I digress. I would venture to guess that music is the number one unifying factor for humans on this planet. It has been so since the dawn of time beginning with crude percussion instruments and has continued through today with all of the crazy technology we currently have.

One thing that has always amazed me musically is for an artist to break the mold. Sure, there's the rock, hip-hop, alternative and classical genres (amongst many others), but what about when an artist creates a new sub-genre altogether? Such is the case with an artist self-named MC Frontalot and his brand of music, dubbed "nerdcore" hip-hop.

Never heard of nerdcore hip-hop? Well, it's still a rather obscure form of music, with a basis in old-school hip-hop from artists such as the Sugar Hill Gang and Run DMC. The "angle" here, however, is that it's a nerdy white guy with a penchant for video games, science fiction and general geeky culture. MC Frontalot, a.k.a. Damian Hess, dresses the part of a nerd, takes the stage with authority and begins spewing out rhymes about video games and electronics with a background of bleeps and blips from those same electronic inspirations.

Nerdcore in Frontalot's own words: "I was always obsessed with the idea, no matter how much any fan of rap might fantasize of being a rapper, if you're like a huge dork, like I was growing up, that's the farthest of your career opportunities, that's the last thing you could be. Inverting that idea is really what there is to nerdcore. Instead of taking your nerd shame, hiding away your Monty Python DVDs, you can wear it on your sleeve and profess it."

MC Frontalot's unique style has been the showpiece of many geek and tech expositions, with appearances at the SXSW and PAX expos being just a couple. Geeks and nerds alike enjoy listening to music that they can associate with, and Frontalot delivers. Obscure to the average Joe, Frontalot has a great following amongst the generations who grew up in the 80's and 90's, myself included.

On his latest album, Zero Day, Frontalot has guests such as Soul Coughing's Mike Doughty and "I'm a PC" advertisement deity John Hodgman. As they assist Frontalot on the disc, they add more geeky layers to an already thickly geek-laden work. It's cameos such as these as well as the finely-crafted lyrics Frontalot puts on his discs that make each one a unique and self-identifying masterpiece of 8-bit love and affection. Zero Day has been extremely well accepted since it's debut, and has garnered much attention from tech outlets such as Wired and Spin magazines.

If you ever played The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers or if you've ever had a calculator in your pocket, then this music might just be right up your alley.





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