Tag Archives: Sammus

Biggest Ups: 23 Artists Share Their Bandcamp Picks

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Illustration by Valentina Montagna.

When we launched Bandcamp Daily, one of the features that was met with the greatest amount of enthusiasm right out of the gate was Big Ups. The concept was simple: we asked artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2016 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. We asked 23 artists to recommend one album they can’t stop playing.

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Alex Trebek’s Diss Ignited A Nerdcore Hip-Hop Rebellion

Mega Ran. Photo by Harrison Searle.

Mega Ran. Photo by Harrison Searle.

One of the strangest beefs of 2016 began with Alex Trebek. In October, Jeopardy! contestant Susan Cole introduced herself on camera as a fan of nerdcore hip-hop. “It’s people who identify as nerdy, rapping about the things they love: video games, science fiction, having a hard time meet romantic partners,” she explained, to which Trebek replied, “Losers, in other words.” Raheem Jarbo, better known as nerdcore hip-hop artist Mega Ran, was traveling on tour from Birmingham, Alabama, when he heard what happened.

“I got absolutely blown up and inundated with links to that event, nonstop,” he says. Jarbo wasn’t mad, per se; Trebek said he was teasing. Jarbo still found the situation ironic. “Talking sideways on geeks, man, you a trip / Guess you hadn’t heard, nerds make up half your viewership,” he rapped in a 40-second freestyle posted to Twitter. The next morning, the clip was featured on TMZ on TV.

Then came “Who Is Alex Trebek,” a massive posse cut on which 13 rappers—including Jarbo, Sammus, and MC Hawking, among many others—spit acerbic bars over the game show’s popular thinking music. It’s the ultimate diss track, even if it ends on a self-deprecating note. “But losers, my dudes, maybe he wasn’t wrong,” Dr. Awkward says, “’Cause we did spend all day making this song.” Nonetheless, “Who Is Alex Trebek” is possibly the biggest nerdcore hip-hop cut to ever exist. Such a track wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago.

Mega Ran. Photo by Andrew Doench.

Photo of Mega Ran by Andrew Doench.

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Sammus Faces Down Demons and Celebrates Black Girl Nerd Magic

Sammus. Photo by Zoloo Brown.

Sammus. Photo by Zoloo Brown.

On her new album, Pieces In Space, Ithaca rapper Sammus (real name Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) fires off songs as piercing as the bullets shot by her Metroid series namesake. She stares down sexist demons with the same intensity and deliberateness that she summons to reflect on childhood innocence. ‘Black Girl Nerd Magic’ is the name of the game, and the weapons are Sammus’ rapid-fire rapping and omnivorous production.

We spoke with Sammus about representation in nerddom, rape culture, the powers of therapy, and being the ‘Bad African Kid.’

Gamergate was the source of a lot of controversy in nerd communities. What was the inspiration for “Comments Disabled,” a track that specifically mentions Gamergate?

Women I was following on Twitter, who were sharing their experiences with harassment. The stories these women shared made me physically ill. I saw how widespread the issue is. That’s what inspired the song.

There’s a weird dynamic where people who should know what it’s like to be bullied spin it and release that vitriol at others. When I picked the name Sammus as my moniker, I was really nervous, because I recognized that geekdom’s dark side can be violent, and I was taking on the moniker of a beloved Nintendo character.

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