When I heard that a rapper was going to be doing a hip-hop show at a local comic shop, I was intrigued. This was something I’d honestly never heard of. I could only assume that it was probably a Nerdcore rapper. I’ve always dug guys like mc chris and MC Lars, but, while my musical knowledge is pretty extensive, that was always about as far into Nerdcore as I ever really got.
Let me pause a second for anybody out there who’s saying to themselves, “What the hell is ‘nerdcore’?” It’s a lot of things really, but the most basic definition is this:
Nerdcore is a sub-genre of hip hop music characterized by themes and subject matter considered to be of general interest to nerds. Self-described nerdcore musician MC Frontalot has the earliest known recorded use of the term (to describe this genre) in the 2000 song “Nerdcore Hiphop”.
And frankly, if you’re just passing this off as some flash-in-pan music trend, you’re sadly mistaken. Nerdcore perfectly exemplifies what true hip-hop stands for… stripped down to it’s nerdy core, it’s all about being who you are, being real, and being completely unapologetic about it. But, also like hip-hop, it’s about having fun. Enter Adam WarRock. A nerdy rapper with a perfect balance of real and fun, that you can also call a “nerdcore” artist if you want too, he’s cool with it.
When I heard that Adam was going to be doing a show at Rick’s Comic City here in Nashville, I immediately Googled the dude. I watched a few videos on YouTube and then checked out his website. The guy has an ARSENAL of songs all about EVERYTHING I LOVE! Among other things, there’s a few tracks about Futurama, some songs about Parks & Rec, and a MarvelNOW Mixtape!
Just today, HBO released a Game of Thrones Mixtape, featuring the likes of Big Boi from Outkast and Common. Well, Adam WarRock actually released his own GoT Mixtape a year ago. You can download it for free over at his website by clicking that link.
Adam was generous enough to give me an opportunity to pick his brain about how he got started, Nerdcore, and some of his favorite nerd stuff…
4LN – To use the “chicken or the egg” analogy, which came first for you, nerdiness or hip-hop?
Adam WarRock – Probably nerdiness. I think my mom still has a picture of me holding an atari controller at 2 years old. And I wasn’t just holding the controllers; I played those games! And then from there, I was a typical kid – watching too much tv, obsessed with Star Wars, baseball cards and comics. Hip hop came in my teenage years.
4LN – Was there a specific event, or moment in life, where you said to yourself, “I’m going to be a rapper”?
AW – I went to this hip hop festival in Oberlin, OH, during college. It had guys like Common, Talib Kweli, Saul Williams, a whole bunch of amazing performers. It took place over three days. In the middle of the festival, they had this huge open mic/poetry slam. I watched a bunch of amazing spoken word artists do pieces, and watched a crowd full of snooty hip hop kids lose their minds, just react in a very visceral way. I said to myself: “Ok, I want to do that. I want to incite that in people.” I went home and started doing spoken word, and that led to hip hop.
4LN – You’ve got an array songs about comic books & characters, cartoons, video games, etc. Is there any one particular branch of nerd-culture that you find yourself most draw to, or that has sentimental value to you?
AW – It’s easy for me to say comics, as that’s where I started. Mostly X-Men and X-Men-related raps is probably the thing that means the most to me. It’s just this endless well of things I could riff on. I remember reading God Loves, Man Kills and The Dark Phoenix Saga as a kid, and just getting obsessed. A bunch of misunderstood teens with powers, trying to live as normal a life as they could hope. It resonated with me.
4LN – I’m sure you often get labeled as a “Nerdcore” artist, due to similarities with guys like mc chris and MC Lars. What are your thoughts on the term “nerdcore”? Pro, Anti, Indifferent?
AW – I’m very pro, but also pretty indifferent to really any classification. Someone once said that genres are only useful to record labels and journalists; the artists and fans rarely if ever care about what kind of music they listen to; especially nowadays. Nerdcore is a community that often gets attributed to one or two guys, who have very specific styles. But it’s a huge community that encompasses a lot of subjects, a lot of artists, and very passionate fans. We have fun and have meaningful art and creation inside of that bubble, and anyone’s welcome to come in. Other than that, the term is just kind of a sign on the door as we go in and do what we do. It’s so that people know what they’re getting into when they step inside. Once it all starts up, it’s whatever it wants to be.
4LN – I found that I connected with your song “High School Reunion” on a personal level. I just really relate to what your saying in that song. If someone asked me what one Adam WarRock song they should listen to, I’d recommend that one. Do you have a recommendation for which one you’d want them to hear, and why?
AW – I think there’s a few songs on my site that are free, songs like “Tell Me” and “Everything,” very personal, emotional songs. But honestly, I think “616” is as Adam WarRock as it gets. Just a bunch of references, just straight rapping about comics. Nothing more, nothing less. Nerdy, fun, and full of swagger.
4LN – Let me throw you a few “lighting round” questions… What TV show are you obsessed with right now?
AW – True Detective. Which is a show I almost gave up on in episode 2, but now is pretty much my favorite thing on tv period.
4LN – I played your Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Gravity Falls tracks for my son and his best friend, and they really loved them. What’s your favorite all-time favorite cartoon?
AW – Wow, what a question. It’s probably Chip N’Dale Rescue Rangers or Ducktales. I was a sucker for that after-school Disney block. Animaniacs is up there too.
4LN – If you could see any video game be made into a movie, that hasn’t yet, what would you pick?
AW – Mass Effect. But it’d be nice if we could just pick up in the middle of the story, without the utter origin of everyone.
4LN – Favorite current-running comic series…
AW – All New X-Men. See above.
4LN – “Never Watched Doctor Who” perfectly captures how us non-Whovians feel. No question here. Just, thank you for making that song.
AW – I’m sorry to say that I now have watched the show. I can never perform it in good conscience ever again.
4LN – Is there any specific era of hip-hop that’s had the most impact on you creatively?
AW – Most people want to say the golden age, early to mid 90s. But for me, it was the underground scene in the early 2000s. Def jux, rhymesayers, things like that. Really left its mark on me.
4LN – Rap or not, what album can you put on at any time and listen to all the way through?
AW – Paul Simon – Graceland.
4LN – Last question: You did a song called “I Can’t Stop Watching House of Cards”. Without spoiling it for the people late to the party, Were you as speechless as I was at the end of the season 2?!
AW – I haven’t seen it! I’ve been traveling so much, so when I stop moving I usually go to sleep. I just started watching it, saw episode 1. And holy moly, it’s off to a great start.
Next Friday, March 14th, at Rick’s Comic City, Adam WarRock is doing a free show, at 8pm. Make plans now to come hang out for this show! You’ve got nothing to lose, and only a new obsession to gain!
In the meantime, check out adamwarrock.com for some great free tracks and mixtapes, so that you can be ready to sing along. You can also click these links to follow him on Twitter (@eugewarrock) and Facebook.