Nerdcore is a genre of music with a heavy focus on traditionally nerdy or geeky subjects. It may also be called “geeksta rap,” in a mocking reference to gangsta rap. The artists who perform nerdcore usually self-identify as nerds and they typically describe their own work as nerdcore, although other artists may confer a nerdcore title onto someone. A number of styles and sounds are encompassed by the genre, although it primarily consists of rap and hip-hop. It may also be spelled as nerd core or specifically called nerdcore hip hop, differentiating it from the conventional hip hop genre.
The roots of nerdcore can be found in the 1990s, although the term was not coined until 2000, by MC Frontalot, a well known nerdcore star. While the themes of nerdcore music may include classically geeky pursuits such as science fiction, gaming, science, and computers, the music may also deal with political issues, drug use, and other topics of interest to the performer. As a general rule, nerdcore is defined by the artist, rather than by the music. In other words, a musician who occasionally sings about science is not producing nerdcore, while a self identified nerd rapping about the environment is creating nerdcore.
As with conventional hiphop, nerdcore is heavily dominated by male artists, although there are a few standout female nerdcore stars. The music often incorporates remixing and fresh takes on old music, with most artists producing and distributing their own work, in alignment with geek ethics about intellectual property and self reliance. Most nerdcore artists make their music available online, often for free, and they encourage fans to remix their work or to interpret it in new ways.
In some cases, nerdcore hip hop is intended to be comic. It is not uncommon to see an artist poking fun at him or herself and nerd culture in general, and nerd core often features complicated inside jokes which might seem incomprehensible to people outside of the nerd community. In other instances, the music deals seriously with issues of interest, such as freedom of information.
Some well known examples of the genre include MC Router, Optimus Rhyme, Mc Plus+, Commodore 64, MC Hawking, Beefy, and MC Chris. Many nerdcore artists are highly intelligent, articulate individuals who come up with startling and sometimes highly amusing rhymes. In addition to working as solo acts, some artists get together for collaborative projects, or they may perform together at festivals and major events.