10 Standout Nerds of 2011


Adam WarRock

In recent years, nerds have become so cool they've developed their own music subgenre -- Nerdcore hip-hop -- that provides a startling lyrical contrast to conventional rappers' celebrations of street toughness, bling and beautiful females. The rhymes of Nerdcore rappers more frequently deal with typical nerd obsessions like science fiction and fantasy games like "Dungeons & Dragons." One of the founders of Nerdcore hip-hop is a Web designer-turned rapper named Damian Hess, more famous by his stage name of MC Frontalot, who began rhyming into his computer in 2000 as a joke, for an audience that he described as "a couple of Star Wars figurines." Another seminal figure in the movement is MC Hawking, aka Ken Leavitt-Lawrence, whose m├ętier is satirical gangsta rap in the synthesized voice of physicist Stephen Hawking [source: Williams].

But 2011's rising star Nerdcore artist was Adam WarRock, aka Eugene Ahn, who abandoned a career as a labor attorney with a Washington, D.C., law firm in 2010 to pursue his passion for rhyming about comic books and science fiction [source: Hill]. In the summer of 2011, WarRock earned a glowing review on Wired.com for the "Browncoats Mixtape," a musical tribute to the TV series "Firefly," a short-lived, obscure mashup of science fictions and westerns that has developed a cult following among nerds [source: Z]. WarRock, whose voice brings to mind a younger, calmer version of Eminem, makes a plaintive appeal for the program to be revived: "Please, maybe you weren't a fan of westerns or the Fox channel / maybe you hated rap music that's understandable / maybe it opened your mind for all to see / and the sky's a place where you long to be free" [source: Z].