Being a fan, especially in the age of the internet, means you’ll probably come across a fan work at some point. The more famous examples like fanfiction and fanart you have probably already seen or at least heard of. From late night talk show hosts surprising actors with a painting of a character they’ve played to maybe that weekend that you totally lost consuming a rewrite of Revenge of the Sith where Anakin never fell to the dark side, everyone in the galaxy has been touched in one way or another by Star Wars fan work. Fans have managed to bend nearly every art form to reflect their passion, with a niche for anything you could want to experience.
So let’s talk about nerdcore.
Nerdcore is the name affectionately given to a subgenre of rap music that is made by nerds for nerds about nerdy things such as movies, comics, and video games. Nerdcore is very specific in its use of parody and references to the point that it becomes somewhat incomprehensible to someone not intimately familiar to the specific works the track is referencing. This makes nerdcore something of an odd genre where a science fiction fan can find appreciation for Star Wars specific works and be utterly lost during a track about superheroes.
Two of the early progenitors of the nerdcore rap genre are known by their MC names of mc chris and MC Frontalot, the latter of which is credited with coming up with the moniker of nerdcore. MC Frontalot’s fellow pioneer, mc chris, is perhaps the most famous rapper of nerdcore with his most well-known track: “Fett’s Vette” – popularly known as “that rap song about Boba Fett” – coming into the public consciousness when it was featured in Kevin Smith’s 2008 film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Mc chris uses rap to craft a homage piece to one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise. “Fett’s Vette” works as a celebratory work, or love letter, from a fan to a well-loved character. Although his Fett rap is his most popular he’s also rapped about most of the other bounty hunters gathered by Vader and paired them with various vehicles from “Zuckuss’ Prius” to “Bossk on a Segway”.
Say my name is Boba Fett. I know my shit is tight.
Start not acting right, you’re frozen in carbonite.
Got telescopic sight, flame throwers on my wrist.
You still don’t get the jist? Spiked boots are made to kick,
Targets are made to hit. You think I give a shit?
Your mama is a bitch! I’ll see you in the Sarlaac pit.
— Fett’s Vette by mc chris
One of the more current crafters of nerdcore is Adam Warrock, whose prolific output is almost intimidating. He has a special love for Marvel comics but covers everything from Firefly to Game of Thrones to his track honouring classic Star Wars villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Warrock created the track as a homage to his favorite Star Wars character, just like mc chris. Warrock and mc chris’s tracks uses narrative voice, or “teller’s” voice, to slip into the skin of the characters Boba Fett and Thrawn to directly address their audience. This voice is often employed by rappers so that they can engage in what is called “braggadocio”. Fett and Thrawn boast about how their exploits and accomplishments and weave a backstory for themselves in the process. Many rappers use this technique to create personas for themselves while nerdcore employs it to play in their favourite fictional universe. This isn’t new to rap itself either, you can find Odysseus bragging about himself in Homer’s Odyssey.
I am Odysseus, son of Laertes, known to the world
for every kind of craft-
my fame has reached the skies
— The Odyssey Homer IX. 21-22
I’m Grand Admiral Thrawn
Serving up the Empire
With a plan that never fails
So watch your tongue when you speak
Y’all got the force I got the forces
So come and meet your defeat
— “Thrawn by” Adam Warrock
So what’s the point of all this? Well, rap is a vehicle for storytelling that uses narrative and dramatic voices to tell stories. Its lyrical stylings often focus on tragic or heroic figures which make rappers almost modern equivalents of the bards of the ancient world. Homer spoke about the epic Trojan war in The Illiad and a couple thousand years later, George Lucas wrote Star Wars. Combining the love of a science fiction fantasy story with that of a form of oral poetry seems almost natural. You can see this:
It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy.
Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker has established a new secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth.
The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Skywalker, has dispatched thousands of remote probes into the far reaches of space….
— The Empire Strikes Back (Lawrence Kasdan)
As a modern version of the invocation of the muse like this:
Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel.
Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.
Even so he could not save his companions, hard though
he strove to; they were destroyed by their own wild recklessness,
fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios, the Sun God,
and he took away the day of their homecoming. . . .
— The Odyssey (Richmond Lattimore)
As ‘being a nerd’ becomes more mainstream, perhaps nerdcore will too. Even “Epic Rap Battles of History” took the opportunity to ask, “What would go down if Deadpool and Boba Fett faced off in a battle of oral skills.”
Sick Mandalorian flows, apparently.
Author’s Note: While not Star Wars, I’d be remiss in not recommending everyone check out Snoop Dogg’s tribute to Batman, “Batman and Robin” featuring The Lady of Rage. There’s a little nerd in all of us.