Maverick Da Roninn brings a tougher edge to his brand of anime and comic book inspired hip-hop, but does he rely too heavily on tired rap tropes?
Straight up. If I want to hear the proliferation of the ‘n’ word or ‘bitch’ on a rap album, I won’t, by default, be seeking out a nerdcore mixtape. For me, nerdcore is smarter than that. It’s not popular, but by very definition the people doing it well are those articulating their fandoms in interesting ways that avoid tired rap clichés.
Maverick Da Roninn seems intent on breaking that perception with his mixtape ‘Libra Complex’. Heavily inspired by his love of anime and comic books there seems little to suggest the Brooklyn born rapper isn’t authentic in his love for nerdy things. But is he authentic in the words he uses?
‘Libra Complex’ is an eighteen track mixtape in which Maverick Da Roninn exhibits his aptitude for rapping. His style is subdued yet confident. His delivery isn’t necessarily dynamic but his flow is strong and timing can’t be faulted. If I’m honest, much of the subject matter and many of the references pass me by simply because I’m not familiar with the source material. Where I do get the references, Roninn’s lyrics are well composed.
Production comes from a variety of sources with, if my count is correct, seventeen different beatsmiths involved. Sometimes a recipe for a clunky transition from track to track – in this instance the release flows well as a body of work. Heavy basslines provide a satisfying rumble and most of the tracks offer interesting compositions and catchy hooks. The overall effect, however, is hampered by a slight muggy sound.
Musically, and conceptually, ‘Libra Complex’ is a solid release. Pop culture references satiate the nerdy demographic, the beats fulfil hip-hop pre-requisites.
Not everything works well though.
Maverick Da Roninn relies heavily on the ‘n’ word in his lyrics – in fact he uses it five times in the first minute of the intro track. To be clear. I’m not personally offended by the word or indeed its use within rap music. However, it is a word used by many aspiring rappers in a misguided attempt to legitimise their music within the genre.
I’m not saying this is the case here. It’s a conundrum of sorts. If Roninn didn’t present a tougher take on nerdcore, part of which is his prolific use of the ‘n’ wor, would his mixtape be unique enough to stand out from the multitude of other anime inspired nerdcore mixtapes? Possibly not.
Leave it in and does he alienate a core part of his audience who enjoy nerdcore because it doesn’t conform to rap tropes? I don’t know.
What I know is that within context the ‘n’ word is synonymous with rap music, and for decades has been used to convey a lifestyle and culture. That culture is not nerd culture.