Nerdcore VPC | Stiborge Reviews Round 4

Nerdcore VPC | Stiborge Reviews Round 4

The annual Nerdcore Vocalist Producer Challenge is back for a fourth outing. Teams of producers and vocalists go head to head through a series of challenges over several months with the ambition of being crowned the VPC IV champions.

The round three tracks are in for the VPC IV, a now annual competition, where producers and vocalists form teams of two to compete in challenges set by the organisers. Each round has strict criteria to be met by both the beatmaker and the vocalist as well as adhering to a theme or key component in the makeup of their track.

Points are awarded by a team of four judges for how well the teams have achieved the tasks set out whilst a public vote makes up the fifth component of the scoring system.

As is tradition The Unheard Nerd has its very own resident VPC critic ready to heap praise or cast damnation on each of the tracks in each of the rounds. It is our great honour to welcome back once again Forrest aka ‘Stiborge’ to review round four.

Round Four | Sell Out

Sell Out
Finally, the time has come…
You got the call.
You heard the voice mail.
You’ve made it, and all that hard work is about to pay off.
For this round, your team has been approached by Suge Beaks and he is ready to sign you and cut an album – BUT – he has conditions.

For the full rules for round four, to find out about round six and for everything you need to know about VPC IV visit the VPC IV website – and to keep up with all the chatter surrounding the competition like the VPC facebook page. To hear a playlist of each of the tracks check out the soundcloud page.

Stiborge Reviews Round Four

Alright, I am working off a hangover right now, but I had a great time last night and I’m in a much better mood than I was last round. Honestly, I was probably too hard on last round, so as for general rank and the songs I liked and didn’t like stand but, especially in the higher up songs you can probably assume that you deserved at least 1 more point than I gave you. Also, I kind of expected a lot from last round and this round I expected a lot of “lol doesn’t radio rap suck” songs and we got some of those but for the most part people played it pretty straight.


West Coast Finest – I Don’t
Vocalist: Shubzilla
Producer: Bill Beats

Shubzilla and Bill Beats come in with a beautiful ode to getting eloped in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. I mean, none of that was specified in the song besides the eloping but that’s the headcannon I’ve concocted for this couple. The song tied into the jingle which was about replacing your shitty husband and it was pretty entertaining, not a laugh out loud moment for me but it made me smile. I dunno what to say about this team that I haven’t already said, Bill Beats and Shubzilla work really well together, I don’t think they’ve made something that I dislike yet from their VPC songs to their stuff on Noir Grime and this song does not break that streak. It’s a fun listen, its not my favorite song of the round but it’s in the upper tiers. Bill Beats just knocks these beats out and Shubzillla has a commanding presence on them. Oh, also I happen to know that the spaceship sound effects from the beginning of the song are from Mass Effect…. I mean Bill Beats told me I didn’t just know that but there’s an interesting factoid for you.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Team Starborob – Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Vocalist: Starby
Producer: RoboRob

So that jingle spot… robosenpai. You fucking weeaboos (I say in my Hello Kitty hat). That’s all I really have to say about the jingle, besides the first couple of listens I’ve skipped it every time. That being said I really like the track itself. I kind of figured the direction that the track was gonna go but I was a little concerned in the very beginning. This song is critical of the concept of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and the lyrics are poignant and pretty great, if a little blatant (which works with the song). RoboRob comes in with a fantastic beat on this one it’s got a lot of his signatures to it which sometimes don’t work for me but they really work for me here. Starby’s singing on the hook in particularly stands out as impressively good to me here. I really dig this entry, I don’t know if I could see it being played on the radio at all but as a song it’s one of my favorites of the round.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Team Kranktaku – Argophobia
Vocalist: KadeshMus
Producer: Jolli Branson

This is by far the most listenable track Jollimus has come with this entire competition. The beat actually sounds like a beat that might exist on an actual song kind of. And the lyrics are very Jollimus, I will say that about them. I definitely didn’t listen to this song and go “there’s no way Jollimus could have written this” they are about as Jollimus as lyrics could possibly be. Umm… you know, it’s not great, I didn’t want to listen to it more than once but I was able to get all the way through this one so… good job? Oh, also I laughed pretty hard at the “radio spot” listening to Jolli do anti-impersonations of fucking Ritchie Branson and KadeshFlow.

Rating: 2 out of 10

SWA – I’m Gone
Vocalist: Rafe (I think)
Prodcuer: Shmizzit

I think the less I say about the jingle/ad spot the better. I didn’t find it all that entertaining and it’s overly long. The song itself… I honestly think would have worked if it was mixed up a bit, or perhaps if it had delivered with a bit more aggression. As it stands, the song is not terrible but I think it could have been better. The feminine vocal sample is a little chopped sounding in the mix and I’m pretty sure thats by design but it’s a little weird for the challenge and for the song. This song seems like it was trying to be a club song and it… kind of accomplishes that goal. I think had a few things in the mix been improved a bit it would have worked much better.

Rating: 5 out of 10

P4strami – Feeling Alright
Vocalist: C0splay
Producer: Zilla Persona

I would absolutely drink JackDewey. I dig the beat to this song I found myself humming along with it. Where this song mostly hurts is in C0splays singing. I’ve heard C0s song on songs before that work better with his voice but this isn’t one of them. In a perfect world Zilla Persona would have sung on this song and I wouldn’t have any complaints besides maybe a couple of nitpicks but that’s not what happened (because I think it would have been against the rules). I still think the song comes out okay despite that, the beat holds it together nicely and C0splay’s raps are fun and high energy and while I’m not paying close attention to lyrics since this is a radio challenge it sounds like typical party rap stuff which I’m cool with, especially for the challenge.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Orzhovian Rhythm – Girl You Good
Vocalist: Rhythm Bastard
Producer: Small Code

This beat starts out and it kind of sounds like the start of a Nine Inch Nails beat but it doesn’t really progress past that. You need some sense of progression or build, especially for the type of beat that that was which in and of itself seems like kind of a weird choice for this challenge. It doesn’t really scream “radio” to me. But, now I have to get to the vocals. There are rap songs on the radio so I’m a little baffled as to why you went for singing on this challenge because it did not sound good. I criticized your rapping last round but it was better than this and a lot of the problems with it were at least in part attributable to the weird time signature so your flow might have even been better with a straight up 4/4 radio beat but you went for singing instead and it just… it doesn’t work. That being said, your jingle spot on “ghost loans” was a relatively clever concept that could have been pulled off better.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Ohm-I 1-Up – Gamecast
Vocalist: MC Ohm-I
Producer: 1-Up Creative Mindframe

I can’t believe that you made a song based on a throwaway joke from fucking Malibu’s Most Wanted. Actually, I can believe it; if any team were going to it would be you and it was one of the better jokes from that movie. You guys must really believe in the product because there is no way they’re giving you money for this product placement with that 9.99 price point. I don’t really know what to say about this, this song is very funny, it’s a weird fucking reference, and it’s very much a product of this group. I like that all the verses set up the next hook and all of the fake games that were referenced gave me a chuckle.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Magical Beer Squad – Amplify
Vocalist: Twil Distilled
Producer: B-Type

I kind of figured that this team would work well with this challenge and they came through with a decent bubblegum pop tune. The style isn’t 100% my thing but it isn’t a style that I really have anything against either. I enjoyed this pretty thoroughly but I don’t really have a lot to say about it it’s just a fun track; if this song came on the radio in the car I would probably not change the station, at least the first few times. I did kind of hate the jingle spot with the pooty pebbles deal but thankfully it was at the end of the track so I don’t have to skip it to get to the song and never have to listen to it at all really.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Helephino – LANthem
Vocalist: Adam Selene
Producer: Navi

You know, when I think “radio hit” I don’t really think “Adam and Navi.” But Helephino is primed to surprise. They came with my single favorite jingle spot of the entire round. It’s a little old school “let’s all go to the lobby” and I love it. The song itself is a pretty fun throwback jam of thinking back to fun LAN party days. Also, while this has no bearing on the anything really, Adam has fantastic taste in video games. Shout out to Discworld and Day of the Tentacle in particular, don’t know if they’re great LAN party games but they are fantastic video games. This song is very good in a nostalgia inducing way, I don’t know if I could see it being played on the radio but there are a lot of songs played on the radio that I wouldn’t think would be so what the fuck do I know about what makes a hit song.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Go to Bread – Bounce
Vocalist: Dynamo Dash
Producer: Rukyss Duhki

I’m just gonna skip right over the jingle spot, I found the joke on it mostly annoying. So, this song, much like SWA’s is going for something and I can clearly see what it is going for, but it’s hurt by the mix. The main difference between the two is that had SWA accomplished what it was going for completely I probably would have liked that song but had this song accomplished what it was going for I probably still wouldn’t have liked it. I do not like bullshit “uplifting” radio songs. Now, knowing what I know about this team and Dynamo in particular I feel like this was done tongue in cheek, kind of a mockery of this type of song, but it does not come through in the song itself. If I had just heard this with no knowledge of the team that produced it I definitely would have thought it was being played straight.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Flying Fortress – Cronojex
Vocalist: Illgill
Producer: Nameless

I actually like this song and product tie in on a conceptual level. I like weird sci-fi time travel stuff. And aside from that neither the beat nor the vocals are a complete failure for me this time. Like, neither element straight fucks up or anything but I don’t really think either element excels either. There’s a lot of repetition, and I don’t mean in the traditional radio song sense, I mean like direct repetition of words at the end of verses to create an echo effect that doesn’t really work. The way it comes across just makes it look like pretty lazy song writing which is usually fine in radio songs but in this case it was neither delivered in a way that hides it nor does the beat work hard enough to cover it up.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Fated Rebellion – California Kingpin
Vocalist: Lady J
Producer: Benjamin Banger

So, that “Asgard” jingle bit was pretty low hanging fruit in terms of comedy but it got me. I laughed at it despite myself, like actually laughed out loud, not just a chuckle and that’s really all the positive I have about this. It’s a making fun of mumble rap song. All the elements are there. Hopsin did the exact same thing a bit ago and that’s rarely a good sign (I fucking hate Hopsin). This song is kind of a worst case scenario for me because I neither like mumble rap nor do I like making fun of mumble rap so I can neither enjoy this song for what it’s doing nor try to enjoy it despite what it’s doing. As far as execution goes it’s… what it is. This is kind of what I was expecting from this whole round and hoping didn’t happen so while I’m glad that this wasn’t just every song this round I’m sad that there was still one.

Rating: 1 out of 10

The E.L. & Solo Act – (Transistor Rhythm) Paperweight
Vocalist: Vincent EL
Producer: Shawn Solo

I have almost no opinion on 808s. I’ve liked songs with 808s in them before and I’ve disliked songs with 808s. I think this song was trying to be more annoying to me then it came out because I sonically didn’t mind it, not even the heavy 808 repetition in the hook. I kind of like this song despite itself. Vincent absolutely kills the flow on this song too. It’s not like his criticisms are unfair it is a bit undermined by an 808 playing in the song itself and mostly sounding fine to me which seems like a problem with this type of satire in general; either it sounds fine and undermines your point or it sounds like hot garbage and makes people not want to listen to it at all. The jingle and radio spots from this team were among some of the more entertaining ones of the competition too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disstopia – Total Party Kill
Vocalist: MC-117
Producer: Flexstyle

Every round I worry will be the round that Disstopia lets me down with a song and every round I’m SO WRONG. Oh my god, once again Disstopia has my song of the fucking round. I would play this at party if I still went to parties. This song is about social anxiety and introversion but it works so well as a party song. It legit makes me want to dance and I’m not really a dancer (unless I am drunk). I like this song so much that I’m having a little trouble talking about it exactly. I love it lyrically, sonically, just every part of it a found myself singing it while typing this. The jingle was entertaining too “don’t drink this if you are over 40 or plan to be over 40” is one of my favorite joke disclaimers ever. I’m just… wow.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Dappersaurus – Calamitous (Last Second Mix)
Vocalist: An Hobbes
Producer: 2-Ton-21

I took a few minutes after that last song and went to grab a bite to eat because following up Disstopia isn’t fair to anyone. Even that said there are a lot of problems with this song. I know there was some real life stuff that got in the way of this and it pushed their timetable around so this was kind of a last minute attempt. They even called it the “last minute mix” and you can kind of tell that that was the case. This song could have definitely do with a lot more workshopping. I actually don’t hate either the beat or the vocals by themselves, I think the beat could have worked and I think the rapping could have worked they just didn’t work together at all. Honestly, I can kind of hear a working song if I do whatever the listening version of squinting is but it’s buried in the mix.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Camoflage – Shawty Bad (Mixed)
Vocalist: Osiris Green
Producer: Cam3

I feel like there’s a little tongue and cheek mockery of this type of song happening here but much like Go to Bread it’s played a little too straight for it to really come through and unlike Go to Bread I don’t know enough about either of the people in this group to make a judgment call about it. So, I’ll just say that this song mostly suffers from being kind of boring. It has the sound of a pretty standard top 40 love song without much else to it. It’s sonically pleasant enough I suppose but if it came on the radio I think I’d probably skip it after I got an idea of what it was going to be and I don’t think I’d miss much. The jingle of this is another one of those jokes that I’m just not really a fan of either.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Beat Tape Bandits – Through the Mud (full version)
Vocalist: Lex Lingo
Producer: Klopfenpop

fucking love this. The fake promo where it hits the “there’s just one problem… it’s on Alcatraz” is one of the few genuine out loud laughs I had this round. This song sounds so genuinely like a theme that it makes me want to stop everything I’m doing and smile into a camera while I’m listening to it. And the fucking robot husband singing destroys me every time. I guess you didn’t have to put CHARLES IN CHARGE of this one to get a FULL HOUSE. This song’s got me in SEVENTH HEAVEN. CHEERS to this team. Some people might not like it but I guess it’s DIFFERENT STROKES. It’s a SMALL WONDER that Klop is able to find the time to producer now that he’s MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. FAMILY MATTERS… Okay I have to stop this now.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Aural Sex – Goshdarn Motherloving Awesome (Radio Edit)
Vocalist: Johnny Hacknslash
Producer: Code E

I think the joke of this song kind of hurts the overall quality of the song. See the joke is that it is a radio edit so they have the fake lyric replacer come in on a clearly different inserted mix to cover up the swears and it’s not really a laugh out loud joke, its more of a knowing nod joke. I don’t know if the joke was worth it for the awkward inserts. I do like the song overall tho, while lyrics are probably the least important part of a radio hit there are some clever lyrics to be found in here which in terms of this challenge is more of a bonus to the fact that its sonically pretty appealing, to me at least, with the beat and the vocals working pretty well together (with the notable exception of the before-mentioned awkward inserts) so I give it a thumbs up.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Annex Dote – The Shplow [Premiere On WSYS Sponsored by Latka Vodka]
Vocalist: Kordlyss
Producer: Ardamus

This is a dance song, like a song that presents a dance to you called the “shplow” and while I’m not sure I’m any closer to learning how to do the shplow now that I was in the beginning of the song I actually dug this. It contains references to a bunch of prominent “dance crazes” from the Mashed Potatoes to the Dougie including my personal favorite (and pretty much the only dance song I really like) The Humpty Dance. More importantly than that the beat grooves and I could see this being the beat to actually facilitate a dance of some kind unlike a lot of other modern attempts at dance songs that I’ve heard.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Huge thanks to Stiborge, be sure to check out his Round Four Review. Lead Image by Ally Desu for VPC IV.
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Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd

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