“Losers”. That was the word of choice that TV game-show host, Alex Trebek used when describing nerdcore musicians and their fans.
The chances are that if you’re reading this from the UK you’re probably asking yourself “What the hell is nerdcore and who the heck is Alex Trebek?!” Both good questions and I’ll get round to that, but in all honesty, it wouldn’t matter whether it was nerdcore and Trebek or ska and Bruce Forsyth, the fact is that a whole community is feeling put down because of the use of that one word.
This situation may not seem like that big a deal but the very fact it’s gone viral and even made it into the Daily Mail over here in the UK suggests otherwise. Obviously, there are those saying we should get over it and it was just tongue in cheek but the nerdcore community has come together to stand up to it , joke or otherwise.
In case you haven’t seen the incident, contestant Susan Cole was on Jeopardy and described nerdcore hip-hop to Trebek saying ‘It’s people who identify as nerdy, rapping about the things they love. Video games, science-fiction, having a hard time meeting romantic partners. It’s really catchy and fun,’ to which the host replied in a seemingly deadpan way ‘Losers. In other words’. He did go on to say he was kidding but the damage was done.
For me, nerdcore doesn’t just represent great beats with fun raps about games and comic books, it’s something much more than that; it’s liberating. It just shows that there is no shame whatsoever in standing up and being proud of what makes you you. I’m not saying other genres don’t do that too, of course they do, but there is just something refreshing about this particular genre for a lot of people.
A few years ago I went through quite a lot of upheaval, cutting ties with my best friend of 13 years, moving out and into a small box room to save money to buy my own place and essentially started to lose touch with a lot of people and the things I used to enjoy. I still went to gigs when I could though, and it was by chance at one of those gigs that I bumped into Will (creator of this beloved site!). I got chatting to him at a Mega Ran show with my buddy and from there he told us about the site and I knew I had found a nerdy kindred spirit.
Nerdcore rapper Mega Ran has been particularly vocal following Alex Trebek’s comment
After being introduced to the site my mind was blown. I was discovering more and more artists like Wordburglar, Kudos the Kid and Doug Funnie to add to the tracks I already owned from MC Lars, the aforementioned Mega Ran. MC Frontalot and Former Fat Boys, and despite my circle of friends having shrunk considerably and feeling pretty down, I found myself starting to feel reinvented.
I used to get teased a little from time to time when I turned up at work in a pixelated Doctor Who t-shirt or when I’d tell people I was staying in to watch repeats of old cartoons I watched as a kid but now I found myself not caring one iota. I’m not saying nerdcore saved my life or anything but it is with some thanks to the sheer fun and honesty of all those raps I had been listening to, I just thought to myself “you’re smiling, you’re enjoying this. If people want to mock, let them, this is making you happy.’ and for the first time in a long time, I listened to myself.
And I think this is what rings true for a lot of nerdcore fans alike. Whether they were teased and bullied as kids, or whether they felt isolated for liking Dungeons & Dragons and IT club at school, it doesn’t matter, this music allows them to feel proud of who they are. So calling people losers because of what they enjoy is a low blow.
Thankfully though, those people that relate to all things nerdy have come together and shown what it means to them, with people like Beefy trying to contact Susan to offer her albums and others telling her she is always welcome at their shows – unlike Trebek who has the deserving hashtag of #SuckItTrebek circulating on social media thanks to MC Chris.
Yes it was just one word, and no, we won’t let it define us, but if it’s proven anything, it’s that nerds are proud of who they are and they don’t care who knows it.
So, from England, all that’s left to say is #SuckItTrebek.