An Introduction to NERDCORE with Special Guest KID APOCALYPSE
It’s funny how things can line up. One thing I hang out for every week is the podcast ‘Jay and Miles Xplain the X-Men’. Recently they featured a guest in the form of Kid Apocalypse, a Nerdcore rapper – a sentence that didn’t make a great deal of sense to me.
What the heckfire is ‘nerdcore’?
Google Images turned up this image and I’m OK with it.
Then I got a totally random email from Kid Apocalypse himself two days later. Weird coincidence or potential stalker, either is fine. Kid Apocalypse – or Quinn Allan – was good enough to bring us up to speed on Nerdcore. In short it’s a sub-genre of music celebrating the same things we celebrate. Pop culture.
Time to hand the reigns over to Kid Apocalypse…
G-Funk: To begin with – who are you and what do you do?
Kid Apocalypse: My name is Quinn Allan, but I go by the name of Kid Apocalypse for my Nerdcore Hip Hop project. I rap, in character, as Evan Sabahnur aka Genesis aka Kid Apocalypse from the Marvel Comic series ‘Uncanny X-Force’, ‘Wolverine’ and the ‘X-Men’, and ‘All New X-Men’.
To get into the spirit, check out his new video!
G-Funk: For those unfamiliar, what is ‘nerdcore’ music?
Kid Apocalypse: Nerdcore music encompasses a wide range of musical acts from Nerd Folk, to Nerd Rock and Nerd Rap. It’s pretty much just any style of music where the theme of the lyrical content centers around Geek Culture. It could be video games, comic books, or even math. Whatever someone is really passionate about, they can turn into music. If it happens to be related to Geek Culture, it could be nerdcore. Some credit people like Weird Al Yankovic as being the precursor to nerdcore, although someone like MC Chris certainly seems like a more likely candidate. In both cases they predated the coining of that term “nerdcore”. I believe the term was coined by MC Frontalot and gained popularity after his documentary film “Nerdcore Rising” was released.
G-Funk: Why did you choose to work in this genre?
Kid Apocalypse: Music has been a huge part of my life. I played in a Pop-Punk band in high school and we did pretty well for a local group. That really started my dream of making music for a job. Since then, I’ve played with some other bands, had a long stretch playing folk music, and ended up doing hip-hop. Filmmaking has always been another strong passion of mine. When I moved to Portland, my work in film led me to acting. I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of success as an actor and it was on the set of a film shoot in Texas that a friend turned me on to Nerdcore. I remember thinking to myself “I could do this. I have all this useless knowledge of comic books. Why not turn it into something?” Shortly after that trip, Kid Apocalypse was born (well, my version. The actual comic character had been around for a bit already).
G-Funk: How important is it for you to commit to your character to make this work?
Kid Apocalypse: At first, it was very important to commit to the act. I was really writing this from the character’s perspective and that meant taking it all the way. In the comics he’s quite young (15-18), and he was raised to be a good kid. So in a music genre rife with explicit content, I was trying to rap as an innocent kid. I kept it more about the feelings of being persecuted and marginalized. I also really played on the theme of Nature vs. Nurture. This is a character who is a clone of, essentially, mutant Hitler (Apocalypse). But he was raised with basically Superman’s origin: on a farm in Kansas with good ol’ Ma and Pa. So he has this inner turmoil of fearing his destiny of becoming the next Apocalypse, but knowing inside that he’s a good person. I used that as the main source of inspiration. But you can imagine that can get old after a while.
An interesting addition to my act was my friend Jared Yanez who has been featured regularly on my tracks. He assumed the role of the character Dark Beast (Beast from an alternate universe in the comics known as the Age of Apocalypse). Since he was more villainous, he could be the lewd one. In the comics, Evan has been tempted by evil a lot. Another character who has really helped him out is Deadpoool. Not exactly the best role model. So I thought it made sense that since my character hangs out with these miscreants, and his own community continues to persecute him in fear of what he might become, that my version of the character is getting a little rougher around the edges. This comes out more on my latest album RE:GENESIS.
Those who listen to the music will also notice that a few tracks on this latest album aren’t really in character at all. This is me essentially testing the waters for a less character-based rap performance. Since the original character isn’t a huge part of the Marvel Universe anymore, and it is owned by Marvel and therefore Disney after all, I am trying to transition away from committing myself to this character. It’s still new for me. And oddly, I do feel a small amount of ownership over this version I have created. Must be what it’s like for comic authors who write about these iconic characters.
G-Funk: How big is the nerdcore community?
Kid Apocalypse: That’s a difficult question to answer. Certainly larger than even I’m aware of, I’m sure. It’s probably growing every day. Thanks to the advancement of technology, anyone can record and release music. As a result, there’s a constant influx of new artists. That being said, it’s certainly still small enough of a sub-genre that I can name most of the “major players” in the scene. Those would be: Megaran, MC Lars, Sammus, The Doubleclicks, Adam Warrock, and Kirby Krackle. Those are musicians and artists who actually do this for a living. They tour constantly and are professionals. I’m sure there are others that I have left out, but like I said, it changes daily.
Dark Beast and Kid Apocalypse
G-Funk: Does nerdcore extend beyond the X-Men fandom, and what other fandoms are putting out work like this?
Kid Apocalypse: Absolutely. Megaran (aka Random) was the first self-described nerdcore rapper I ever listened to. His album Black Materia is a tribute to Final Fantasy 7 complete with in-character songs rapped over the soundtrack to the game. His original success came from his work with Mega-Man games. He raps about that on a few records. Chiptune is a whole new subgenre of electronic music that is essentially writing music that sounds like it was designed for an 8-Bit game system like Nintendo. But others rap and make music about Star Wars, or just silly things like cats. There’s really no limit. My buddy Kielen King (who produced RE:GENESIS) has a whole sci-fi fictional world he has created over several albums about his titular character Star Pilot. That’s kind of the beauty of it. It can really be about whatever you are passionate about.
G-Funk: For people who want to look further into this music scene, where’s a good starting point?
Kid Apocalypse: I’ve mentioned a few already. If you want some great pop-punk styled nerd rock, look no further than Kirby Krackle. If you want to try something a little more folky and pro-feminism check out The Doubleclicks and their friend Lucia Fasano. In the nerdocre rap vein, there’s Adam Warrock, Random (Megaran), Sammus (who is amazing), MC Lars, The Dungeon Brothers, and I’m sure a million others that even I don’t know yet! And give ol’ Kid Apocalypse a listen! All my albums are free to download here: www.kidapocalypse.bandcmap.com and we have a bunch of great music videos on the Mongrel Studios YouTube channel.
Want to find out more about Kid Apocalypse and his music? Get yourselves to Emerald City Comic Con and find him in person! Also check out his site
for free music!