I love music and it has often been a comfort to me; I’ve also found value and comfort in nerdy things. So, mixing these two concepts together is the perfect product for me. This week’s Web Crush Wednesday, Adam Warrock, makes self-proclaimed “Overly Enthusiastic Hip-Hop” about pop culture and general nerdy media.
The first thing I want to mention is that his music isn’t a lazy mishmash of typical rap tropes. First, he isn’t content to write simply about the tired subjects of money, fame, and women. While these themes may be peppered into his songs from time to time, they typically aren’t the focus. (These themes show up in his work less as time goes on.) Similarly, the genre is often criticized for being too much about tough-guy bravado. Warrock is not afraid to subvert this. He is willing to talk about being a sensitive guy, his concerns with his own personal life, and even the struggle of deciding if the American Dream version of a Nuclear Family is right for him.
But mostly, his catalog consists of creative topics in geeky culture. With a name inspired by the Marvel hero Adam Warlock, Eugene Ahn uses his MC handle, Adam Warrock, to rap about a variety of subjects including the Lumberjanes, Shaun of the Dead, and the Golden Girls. And this is all the last few months. It is a disservice to Warrock to limit the list of his works, but there honestly is so much. He is probably most well known for his rapid rate of releasing free songs. To date, he’s released fifty-three free songs this year including four mixtapes with more specific themes. The mixtape format may make this task a little simpler—for those unfamiliar with hip-hop, mixtapes usually include songs that are the artist’s original lyrics over an instrumental another has used once before—but it is still a large number of verses for one musician to pen in a year. To add to his ever-growing list, he also has a set of studio albums with more original beats. These sets are less theme-driven, but cover wider arrays of subject matter.
Specifically, some of my favorites of his mixtapes focus on Avatar: The Last Airbender, Futurama, and the indie game Transistor (which uses music from the game). As far as an album without a specific theme, his latest studio production, The Middle of Nowhere, shows a maturation in his style and formula. While being playful with songs like “Sinestrocore” and “B.S.F.X.” (Batman Sound FX), he delves into more introspective territory with “Shoulda Beens”, “Puzzle”, and the previously mentioned “Nuclear Family”. This versatility keeps his sound fresh, a useful trait for someone who releases so much music.
Besides being a purveyor of pop culture stylings, Warrock frequently speaks for positive messages. While he isn’t considered a crusader, he has spoken out against subjects he finds offensive or distasteful in his songs. The most outstanding example would be his hit “F**k SOPA” (NSFW) which is exactly what it says. He often writes songs that discuss racism that he had to face in his younger (and probably current) years as a Korean guy raised in the South. Along these lines, he frequently calls out misogyny in both nerd and rap cultures.
These two points of Adam Warrock’s music combine to great effect. As an indie musician, it is difficult to make a living from simply music alone. For this reason, each year he runs a personal donation drive to try to earn some extra money, rewarding patrons with some exclusive new music and other goodies that his artist friends may donate. But, he is not one only to take and not give in return. This year—this weekend, in fact—he is doing a 24 Hour Rap-A-Thon with some of the proceeds going to RAINN, a large anti-sexual assault organization. It goes without saying how important of a cause this is, and it is wonderful to see another person within the nerd space donate to it.
In an email conversation I had with Warrock, he said:
I know a lot of people who’ve been personally affected by sexual violence, whether as survivors or being close to survivors themselves. It’s a serious issue to me, something I’ve seen affect people I love and hold close. In addition to that, I see rape consistently pervade pop culture in pretty lazy and insensitive ways – in TV, comics, movies. It’s used as a notifier that a villain is bad, it’s used as a lazy plot device that has real effect on people who’ve been affected by sexual violence. And even worse, a lot of people seem to think it’s no big deal. RAINN is an organization that tries to help survivors of sexual violence, and raise awareness of the damage it can do. That appeals to me.
So go check out Adam Warrock today. With the rise of accessibility to anything on the internet, we have so many options, especially as geeks and nerds, but we can only spend so much money on entertainment. It’s good to see an artist trying to provide music for any income level. This level of accessibility is an attractive model for the busy consumer. Add in the chance to acquire more music along with charity, and I think you’ve got a winning formula.
Although I highly recommend his work, hip-hop is a very lyric-heavy genre and profanity does pop up from time to time.. Out of courtesy, I must provide a minor warning. You can check out Adam Warrock’s music at his site,and read more about the Rap-A-Thon here. He can also be found on Twitter and Tumblr.