What happens when you have a generation of youths raised on gangsta rap in an era of dot com billionaires galore? Nerdcore of course.
A story on The Plugg reminded me of an article I’ve been meaning to write for some while. Rap has been on a slow decline with the emergence of gangsta rap, only propped up with a slow regional rotation. The East Coast/West Coast rivalry pretty much took a back seat to the domination of Southern hip hop. However, listeners can be forgiven every time a new song comes out to mistakenly assume they heard it before. After all, this is the genre where rappers who have been dead for a decade can release an album of out takes and still achieve platinum sales. No really, they do.
It has always been said that you should write about what you know, and that’s one thing that hip hop and rap have always done; tell tales of ones surroundings. We haven’t all grown up on the streets, or in gangs. Some of us were raised in the suburbs playing Dungeons and Dragons and video taping our ninja movies in the basement.
Rappers constantly emphasize the importance of keeping it real. You can hear them lamenting the state of rap music and all the fakes they deal with interspersed between their boasts of having gone on a random killing spree that makes Columbine look like a picnic party. Just keep it real.
What may have started out as a creative outlet for disenfranchised ghetto youth is more or less a caricature of itself. You could call it a charade of sorts.
So in this day and age, who are the disenfranchised youths? Nerds of course. Just like the ghetto children erecting a fantasy world of drugs, money, sex and braggadocio around their bleak existence, nerds represent a group left behind by society. They must fight for recognition and respect.
Instead of tales of bank heists and sexual prowess we have tales of hacking and programming fu galore. Instead of a world filled with super models we get alluring anime characters and video games.
The beautiful thing about nerdcore is that you can keep it real without decimating an entire city block or being richer than Bill Gates. Even if a nerdcore rapper claimed to be richer than Bill Gates, at least it would sound more plausible too. I mean, who can really complete with Google Jet bling?
When you subtract all the violence and foul language of rap, you have anthems of empowerment for the down trodden. The emergence of rap gave ghetto youth a reason to be proud for who they were. Maybe nerdcore will one day provide the same source of pride. Or maybe not.