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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The music business is always changing and mutating into something new. Rap used to be huge but last year sales fell by more than 20 percent. Well now geeks, gamers and techies have created a new genre called nerdcore. Nerdcore rappers are even touring the country giving live concerts. Caitlan Carroll reports.
BEEFY: I’m a nerd, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m a nerd. I role play and I brag about it. I’m a nerd . . .
CAITLAN CARROLL: That’s Beefy. He’s a 21-year-old nerdcore rapper who’s just finishing up his first West Coast tour. Beefy says he never thought he’d be playing to a live audience.
BEEFY: I was in the eighth grade in middle school and I started rapping to impress the girl who sat in front of me, ’cause she was really into it. And I was like, ‘Hey, I can rap.’ So I started making that stuff you hear everywhere on the radio cause that’s easy to write. I’m a thug and I do this and this is what I have. And it’s all lies.
Soon, the computer geek dropped the gangster style. It was tough to maintain as a suburban eighth grader.
Beefy started rapping instead about his real interests, the bread and butter of nerdcore: video games, sci-fi and computers.
MC FRONTALOT: Nerdcore used to be just a made-up word, MC’s tryin’ ta . . .
MC Frontalot coined the term nerdcore back in 2000. Since then, websites like rhymetorrents.com and MySpace have helped create a community of geek rappers.
Frontalot says inexpensive equipment, software and nerd know-how make producing the music easy. He’s able to rap full-time just through music sales off the Internet.
MC FRONTALOT: Between that and the t-shirts, you know, it covers my rent and my groceries, which is pretty much all that any indie music person ever dreams of.
This kind of do-it-yourself model has transformed the record industry. So says Negin Farsad, director of the film “Nerdcore Rising.”
NEGIN FARSAD: I think that record labels are kind of going the way of the dinosaur. You know, you don’t really need a record label anymore to get your music heard. What you really need is a high-speed Internet connection in your apartment.
Unfortunately, Internet stardom doesn’t always translate into cash.
Beefy’s going back to his part-time job at a pizza place after his tour. But he says it wasn’t the money that brought him to nerdcore, it was the ability to bring nerdcore to cyberspace.
SONG: I want to be, I want to be, I want to be an Internet celebrity.
In Los Angeles, this is Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.
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