I Was a Nerdcore Rapper by Jason Christie
Once I failed a drug test for pot, and got fired. Occupational hazard. They were begging me to come back within three weeks. But during my time off, I pursued a few projects with typical obsessive aplomb.
The first of which was pitching my Augmented Reality developments to the industry. You can read about it here: (Toward Ultimate Reality). In a nutshell, I designed a theater that would allow five hundred people to watch five hundred movies on the same big screen at the same time. Walk in at any time, select your movie, and go. Pause, rewind, etc.
This is important, as the theater industry is dying a slow death. With this arrangement, you could re-release every movie ever made. I can watch Star Wars next to a person watching Gone with the Wind. Suddenly, a new revenue stream for both Hollywood and theater owners.
Anyway, I actually made some progress. Dreamworks, of all people, told me to send them a formal proposal, which was to be a concept theater project. I already had the engineers lined up. Amazing people from Newtek, Commodore, 3DO, etc.
So, yay me.
Then I added myself to the Wikipedia page on nerdcore rappers. I’ve been an MC since, oh, 1988. And I’m pretty much a huge nerd, even when I rap.
I was summarily deleted as ‘not notable’. Okay, fair enough, I guess. This was also happening with other nerdcore rappers at the time. There were about eight listed on Wikipedia. So I read up on the notability requirements, and decided I would play along. I’d do whatever it took to meet the requirements, and get back on Wikipedia.
And I worked out how to do it. It would even enable others to do the same. Win/win. I created nerdcorehiphop.org and rhymetorrents.com, and started looking for other nerdore rappers. Rhyme Torrents was to be the first ever nerdcore compilation album. NCHH.org was also the first nerdcore website.
Things went amazingly well. So well that I forgot all about Dreamworks. Announcements were published on Boingboing.net and Slashdot.org. Suddenly, I had found fifty-three nerdcore MCs. And we had four CDs worth of material.
Then the media became interested. We were mentioned in Wired, in a hugely disappointing article. My website was mentioned in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Newsweek, and newspapers as far away as England and South America. The Guardian article on nerdcore.
Divx contacted me. They gave me a bunch of money ($3500? Not sure.) and told me to bring whoever I wanted to Las Vegas to perform at the 30th anniversary of the consumer electronics show. I somehow got about fifteen other rappers there with that budget. I managed to book a second show in Vegas, where I famously rapped blacked-out drunk. Epic.
Oh, man, we had high hopes. Even though the Wired article was terrible, there was international interest in what we were doing. I foolishly, optimistically predicted a few MCs would get record deals.
That never happened, of course. But we fostered a scene that grew, for a while, exponentially. Lives were changed. People actually hooked up and married through the nerdcore scene. Tons of people moved to Orlando and Washington state, the twin capitals of the genre.
A concert/festival, Nerdapalooza, was launched. I even got to perform, and did one of the best shows ever. But the next year…
I was called by a promoter of the second Nerdapalooza. He said he needed a marketing whiz to blow it up, and I was the only one he knew capable of doing it. He wanted me to work behind the scenes, so he could have ‘plausible deniability’ in case I, I don’t know, marketed too hard.
Meh, whatever. I won’t get into the details, but it was extremely corrupt. So after doing tons of work for the show, in which I was promised the closing slot on the next day I was…dropped from the bill.
I went berserk, as I am prone to do from time to time, when slighted. But that was pretty much the end of my involvement with nerdcore. I deleted the sites, stopped promoting, and watched the scene dwindle back into obscurity. It still exists, but if you check Google trends, 2006-2008, when I was promoting, was when there was the most interest . Thankfully, the scene continues on without me, and still has a lot of exciting aspects.
I did meet some cool people, heard a lot of great new music, and had a lot of fun. Something to be said for that, I guess. I also learned that nerds are pretty much the same as anyone else. Lots of pettiness, jealousy, backstabbing, etc. For some reason, I expected more out of them.
And the Dreamworks thing? I never got back to it.
Wikipedia? I’m on there. Sort of. Still not considered notable enough for my own page, for some reason, despite having met the requirements.
Oh, well. I broke a new genre of hip-hop to an international audience. How many people can make that claim?