I’m a Jerk About Nerdcore
by Travis Hedge Coke
I am a stick in the mud when it comes to nerdcore or nerdrap. It’s a nice idea. It’s a self-congratulatory notion, the way a lot of modern nerd or geek entertainment categorization is. The implication is that mainstream hiphop or pop music acts are not playing in the deep end of the nerd pool. They are not down with the anime, comics, science fiction novels, Star Trek character, paracinema references. They are –
I don’t want to be the person who goes Prince! Prince!!! Pprrrriiiiiiiiinncce! But, Prince. Beastie Boys. The Beatles. ¡Mayday!. Tom Waits. It is important that we do not stop for Death and never say these names. Wu Tang is for the children. Do this for the children!
Pop music can be deep in the geek. Hiphop, in particular, has been on top of horror movies and superhero comics with the dedication to theme that would make you notably of a theme in rock, without being thought of as of a theme. But, just music. The field. Buncha nerds. Rod Stewart has train sets and diorama you would not believe! Alex de Campi directed a Joan as Police Woman video. I’m having a little hard time believing Wolverines, by a comics reader and professional comics writer isn’t dancing around the X-Men character. Captain Marvel gets shout outs from Paul McCartney and Chick Corea –
Amanda Lear’s Comics more purely, truly expresses the love of reading comics, of resting with comics, enmeshing with comics, than any movie about comics fans I have ever seen. Her sometime boyfriend, Salvador Dali, said that, “Comics will be the culture of the year 3794 so you are 1827 years ahead, which is good.” Her projection of herself, in heart and sell, into reading comics, experiencing comics as a party, as a party and as a bedroom gathering, a sleepover, a tryst, a laugh with heart is one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven years in the future. It is right now!
Monster Magnet had been a comics-obsessed, comics-infused band before they had a hit song, like Powertrip, when under an earlier name, Shrapnel, they appeared in a Marvel superhero comic, but a few years back, now, frontman Dave Wyndorf started doing What If…? issues with the albums, stepping back in time, to produce What if… this song was made in 1968? and What if… I Had Kept Things Good With My Friend?, inviting back old collaborators, layering on sounds, removing his voice entirely from songs while in other songs, making himself really sing instead of shouting the words. That’s comics. That is the potent lessons of a life enmeshed –
Lou Reed. David Bowie. Jessicka. Adam Ant. Bob Dylan. Little Richard loved comics. Elvis Presley took some of his most famous looks from comic books. Outkast. Glenn Danzig. Chuck D. Big Pun, DJ Green Lantern, Johnny Thunders, all pulling their stagenames or stage presence from comic books. MF Doom and Ghostface Killlah!
MF Doom wears his fandom on his face –
Ringo Starr and Marc Bolan once brought John Lennon some fresh off the stands comics to cheer him up! Man-Wolf!
If you are going to talk nerd and mean comics nerds, comics geeks, geekdom, and musicians, and MF Doom is not quick to your mind, your mind is in the wrong place. You think Adam Ant doesn’t know about secret identities that are your public face? Run-DMC’s DMC, who has worked in pro comics after his fame in music, alongside his fame in music, says his stage persona is purely based on the Incredible Hulk. Gerard Way, Rob Zombie, and Neil Young have all writing comics and all been alongside and inside since –
None of this is meant to disparage nerdcore performers, nerdcore or nerdrap musicians, writers, performers, entertainers. You play guitar in a nerdcore band, okeh. You sing, you rap, you freestyle and don’t consider yourself part of more popular genres or larger markets, the broader musical scene, the scheme, more power to you!
It is not the nerdcore scene, the nerdcore performers who are the problem, though I wonder why so few of them are black, for one thing. I have to – you should wonder. It’s complicated. Not all self-professed, not all marketed acts of nerdcore are white or predominately white. Not all deeply geek acts who don’t are not white. All things, though, have their reasons, and what motivates the break?
Nerdcore does not come out of the filk scene. Any of them. No more than anything else.
Nerdcore is not the abandoned, forgotten, the too good and too uncool to make it in the other scene, a scene only they have defined, though the name is likely a parody of “nardcore,” the mythic Oxnard, California punk fugue that only ever seems to come from places other than Oxnard. A now-global movement whose name may parody a tiny never-was collection of bands and singers pretending to be from a California town that is, itself, a cartoon of socio-economic disparity.
What instigates the genre? What frames the market, but myth and truism, try-ism and bullshit? What else is a genre? What else is a shelf or a button, a hyperlink to click torrent site? That’s music. That’s comics. That is fandom. Geekdom. Nerd. It’s a sell. It is bucking for a buck. Biding for time. Bat for Lashes. Isn’t it?