by Jordan Jacobs
I love nerdcore rap.
“Nerdcore rap?”, you say. “What is that?”
Exactly what it sounds like, nerdy rap! It’s a form of art where its creators express their love of nerdy things through their lyrics. From songs with lyrics filled with video game and anime references throughout (such as Mega Ran’s track “OP” with Richie Branson and Storyville) or full albums dedicated to anime (Diggz Da Prophecy’s “Annie Mae”), it is a genre that touches individuals who may not be able to relate to many of hip hop’s more mainstream acts.
Since its inception, hip hop has been a voice for many different kinds of individuals. From people born and raised in hard neighborhoods, to skateboarders, to people who made it big off of music or other means, it has been an art form full of references to things people knew or loved during their childhoods. Over the years, nerds have become a more prominent force in the hip hop scene. Slinging anime, video game, comic book, or nerdy movie references, these MCs provide a different and more relatable form of rap for their listeners.
So why do I love it? Precisely for the reasons I mentioned above: there are more things that I personally can relate to in these types of raps. As a fan of gaming and anime, it’s dope to hear a Dragonball Z or World of Warcraft reference from a talented rapper. Also, as a creator, it inspires me to know that I can talk about things I personally love without being judged for it. It’s an outlet for people like me: people who are passionate about spending their free time gaming, watching anime, superhero movies, or even playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Among nerdcore artists, Mega Ran is possibly the best known one, but I spend a lot of time connecting with and listening to lesser known artists, some of whom he has collaborated with. They all bring their own unique styles and experiences to the genre. From the streets-influenced samurai and anime bars from Ish1da, to the Wu-Tang inspired fast delivery of comic references from Rhyme Artist, to the passionate, former outcast bars from NyteXing (pronounced Nightwing, after one of his favorite superheroes), I truly believe there is something for everyone to enjoy in this scene.
As time goes on, I see nerdcore rap becoming more mainstream. While it’s not exactly uncommon to hear an occasional reference to anime, comic book heroes, or video games in hip hop, artists who have a whole identity based in them or who produce full albums on them are rare. But with many building their fanbases by releasing music on Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud, as well as touring cities throughout America, I think it is only a matter of time before it becomes as listened to as other forms of rap. Jaden Smith already has millions of listens on his DragonBall Z inspired track “Goku”, so I’m sure in time more nerdcore rap will be exposed to the masses and it will truly be acknowledged as a force that helped change the hip hop landscape.