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Featured Artist Profile: mc chris
Brooklyn emcee ushers in hip-hop's 'Revenge of the Nerds.'

mc chris
Genre: Hip-Hop
Website: www.mcchris.com

White rappers are always taken with a grain of salt, especially when they attempt to personalize the predominantly African-American genre. Since its inception on the streets of South Bronx, many “chalkies” have tried to show their skills where few have actually found respectful recognition. As the hip-hop audience widens even beyond the suburban audience, many white rappers have found their own cult followings of devoted fans through viral videos, myspace fan bases, and the post-technological internet revolution. It is those very people who find little in common with the gun-toting machismo of traditional “gangsta-rap,” that have rallied behind the hip-hop career of Christopher Brendan Ward, better known as mc chris. (As with many hip-hop emcees, what you see is not a typo. As he puts it in the song “Ten Year Old,” “mc chris/ lowercase/ not dots/ rewind!”).

Though he has always had a long-standing desire for hip-hop, mc chris is perhaps best known for his voice-over contributions to various programs on the late-night Adult Swim program on Cartoon Network. Among other minor bit-parts, his noticeably high-pitched voice is featured in the characters of MC Pee Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and as Hesh Hepplewhite on Sealab 2021. Not surprisingly, both supporting characters have a profound fondness for rapping. Although future voice-work is expected on upcoming Adult Swim programs, mc chris announced his retirement from voice-over acting in October of 2004 to focus on his emerging hip-hop career.

It might be difficult for long-time hip-hop aficionados to wrap their heads around a short, slightly pudgy, white rapper who quickly spits high-pitched rhymes about Star Wars, Reese’s Pieces, roller coasters, and pretending to be a ninja in a hoodie sweatshirt. But looking beyond the comical, camp appeal of songs like “Fett’s Vette,” which provides an explanation for the Star Wars bounty hunter’s motivation, and “Nrrrd Grrrl,” which praises a seldom referenced, unexplicably appealing female fan base, there is one characteristic consistent in every mc chris jam: despite his geeky subject matter, this is one emcee who can effectively rock the mic!

mc chris, along with other self-proclaimed “geekster-rappers,” has been grouped into the recently defined hip-hop subgenre, “nerdcore.” Along with other subsets such as “horrorcore,” which utilizes themes similar to those found in the darkest forms of death metal, nerdcore has been both heralded as a steadfast genre with an ever-growing future and as a passing fad, merely a humorous tangent on the winding road of hip-hop.

However, where other nerdcore emcees have fully accepted their place within this subgenre, mc chris has remained hesitant about his status within the ranks. He first rejected his inclusion within the genre, but eventually came to terms with being grouped with like emcees. As “geek-chic” grew in overwhelming popularity with the likes of cultural stigmas like Napoleon Dynamite and Ugly Betty, the nerdcore moniker lost its appeal to mc chris and he slammed other emcees within the genre for riding on the success that he accumulated throughout his years of making music with no conscious desire to fit within a certain realm. All in all, he was just writing music about subjects that he knew about, not trying to fit in with a particular demographic.

Distancing himself from a genre which he helped usher into the public limelight has not deterred mc chris from doing what he loves. After releasing numerous albums without the help of major-label backing, he is continuing to grow in popularity and respect both inside and outside of the hip-hop community. Unlike so many image-heavy artists plaguing hip-hop today, he has never been shy about who he is (the previously mentioned song “Ten Year Old” is a direct personal slam on his own high-pitched vocal range). But before you dis mc chris for loving the theme-song to “Kingdom Hearts” or knowing who the dolly-grip was on Demon Knight, listen to the skills found in his rhymes. Then, maybe, you will accept your inner nerdiness as he says, “When I’m on the mic, the girlies wanna flizzert/ But I tell ‘em ‘chill like a DQ Blizzard.’”

Discography:

Life’s a Bitch and I’m her Pimp (2001)
Knowing is Half the Hassle (2003)
Eating’s Not Cheating (2004)
Dungeon Master of Ceremonies (2006)
The New York University 8-Track Discography 10th Anniversary Edition (2007)
mc chris is dead (2008)
Part Six Part One (2009)
Part Six Part Two (2009)
Part Six Part Three (2009)
Apple Tummy (2009)
mc chris goes to hell (2010)