Something needs to be said before I even start. I typically don’t listen to Rap. Thus, I don’t have a detailed genre vocabulary that other music critics have. I do, however, love Nerdcore, and want to thank MC Frontalot for the excellent suggestion of reviewing Sammus for Jealous Sounds.
There’s nothing like Alex Trebek taking a jab at Nerdcore to get the fans riled. The MC’s took one day to make a song, and it took five minutes to remind me that I love Nerdcore ,and I needed to cover it. So, I went to He Who Is Nerdcore, MC Frontalot, on Twitter for a suggestion on an up and coming MC to cover. Only a minute later, he popped up with an answer, Sammus. To make things even more tasty, she drops a new album today, ‘Pieces in Space’, and I get to review it. Yay me!
There is so much to be impressed with. The 30 year old rapper from Rhinebeck, NY, has worked as an MC and producer since high school. To top that she holds a Bachelor’s degree and is working on a Ph.D, both from Cornell University. Sammus also has a deep and abiding love for Nerd Culture. Her stage name is inspired the videogame Metroid. Her vast knowledge of pop and nerd culture is heavily mined for her music, but she doesn’t consider herself solely a Nerdcore rapper.
Sammus’ new album is ‘Pieces in Space’. The 12 track LP, through Don Giovanni Records, rises to a level that deserves respect in both Nerdcore and mainstream Rap circles. The themes follow issues all can relate to, and events unique to her situation. The tracks”100 Percent (feat. Latasha Alcindor LA)”, and “Nighttime (feat. Izzy True)” talk of the difficulties of living day to day, and the overwhelming anxieties that keep people awake at night. “Qualified ( feat. Open Mike Eagle and Arch Thompson)” speaks about being worthy of love, and “Song About Sex” is about the problems caused by taking back an asshole ex because the sex is dope.
Professional themes also feature prominently on ‘Pieces in Space’. “Cubicle (feat. Alex Attard)” speaks to the fuckery she deals with to be a modern music star. “Headliner” talks about Sammus’ desire to reach a hard earned recognition in rap. “Genius” voices the frustration with detractors of black artists natural talent. Finally, “1080p (with Jean Grae)” is about using therapy to get a grip on the pressure of trying to fit in at Cornell.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Nerdcore without preaching the gospel of nerd culture. “Childhood” delves into her 90’s kids tv childhood and missing childhood simplicity. “Perfect Dark” is her lament of the lack of black female nerd hero’s in the media. “Comments Disabled” could be the most contentious song on the album, taking on GamerGate and the huge pain in the ass female gamers experience from the guy gamers. “Weirdo” (feat. Homeboy Sandman) is about about being accepted despite being a nerd, introvert, and individual. The Easter eggs from nerd culture: gaming, anime, comics, etc., come thick and often.
The music itself is a relaxed, urban mix. It’s easy on the ears, allowing the messages and lyrics to flow seamlessly. Sammus’ voice goes from tender to fierce with almost no effort. Her guests on the album are incredible in their own right, from Nerdcore’s own Open Mike Eagle to Jean Grae. Sammus’ ‘Pieces in Space’ should rightfully send her to the top of the Nerdcore mountain.
‘Pieces in Space’ will release at 12 pm, October 28, on all online music sites and streaming services. Sammus is currently on tour supporting the new album.