Monday, May 24, 2010

mc chris For The Win

Hip hop is something I've never been able to fully embrace. In my formative years, I was firmly within the "anything but rap and country" camp of musical taste. It wasn't until my freshman year when Kanye West's "Gold Digger" was playing at every single frat party and I shared my dorm with a guy with a Cam'ron poster that I even really gave rap a chance. Even with my college excursions into "the Hood", the only artist I've really been able to walk away with any sort of real love for is the Wu-Tang Clan, mainly because anybody who uses samples of old kung fu movies is okay with me. I can relate to that.

Relating is exactly my problem with hip hop. Rap music is primarily a chronicle of the struggles of lower class African-Americans from the mean streets; I'm an upper-middle-class white guy from Minnesota, there's a disconnect there. Gangsta rap only sets off my overly-sensitive white liberal guilt receptors and nowadays' less hardcore pop rap displays a propensity for macho posturing and an effeminate obsession with shoes and clothes that I'm far too self aware to get down with.

Maybe that's why I love mc chris so goddamn much. He speaks to me and my experiences, which is why rap had such an impact among black youths in the first place. That and the sick beats. Those are nice too.

Chris "mc chris" Ward is by trade a writer and voiceover artist from Atlanta. He first rose to prominence with his work on Cartoon Network during the turbulent period of Adult Swim's ascendancy. He voiced the recurring characters of Hesh on Sealab 2021 and MC Pee Pants (a giant diaper-wearing spider who raps) on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. His first big exposure musically came when his signature jam "Fett's Vette", a song about Boba Fett bounty hunting to make payments on his corvette, was featured in the closing credits of an episode of Sealab. I remember first seeing that episode in eighth grade and immediately jumping on Kazaa or Morpheus or whatever I was using at the time to download it, because man oh man, I love Boba Fett.

Since then, mc chris has made quite a name for himself as one of the champions of the "nerdcore" subgenre. Nerdcore is a facet of hip hop seemingly almost completely separated from the rest of the genre. Its artists and fans tend to, as you'd figure by the name, be nerds. Well okay, they're all nerds. Nerdcore songs are all about geeky subject matter: video games, comics, math, the inability to talk to members of the opposite sex, etc. It's stuff that someone like me, a guy who bitches about breakfast cereal commercials on the internet, can relate to.

mc has recently distanced himself from the nerdcore movement, seeking to be seen less as a novelty act and more as a legitimate hip hop artist. That's well within his rights and is probably a good idea considering the novelty act nature of many nerdcore artists. That being said, can a rapper whose songs deal with such mainstream rap-friendly subject matter as tripping on Robotussin, suburban malaise, being bad at sex, Neville Longbottom, and dressing up like a ninja to stalk cute redheads (I approve) can ever really find acceptance outside of people who regularly post on Star Wars forums?

I saw mc at a live show last night and he was awesome. Some may call it pandering but to see him up on stage ranting about how the Clone Wars TV show is the best thing to happen to Star Wars in twenty seven years really made me feel at home (even if I disagree with him). To get an idea of what mc's on stage banter is like, check this video out (though of course he has nothing on the greats).

Perhaps some day, every conceivable facet of the population will have a rapper to tell their story. Perhaps its part of rap's evolution as a musical movement to move out of the ghetto and into the wood-paneled basements of suburbia. There will of course be detractors to artists like mc chris, but there will also be plenty of fans to support them. The internet has made it so niche artists can find a fan base, and mc has profited greatly from it.