Optimus Rhyme

By Shamus
on Jan 24, 2006
Filed under:
Nerd Culture

No discussion about geek culture would be complete without giving a mention to Optimus Rhyme. I would posit that the term Nerdcore was coined in anticipation of the arrival of these robotic minstrels. I mean that as the highest sort of praise. A casual listener may be forgiven for mistaking the music for mainstream hip-hop due to the high production values. However, careful assesment of the lyrics will reveal several ways in which the group departs from the norm. If that isn’t enough to establish we are dealing an indie endevor here, I would add that they demonstrate actual musical talent. As in: they play musical instruments all by themselves and everything.

Anyway, the usual MO of a rap group is to make various implausable claims about being “gangsters” from “the hood” and fighting against “pigs”. By contrast, here is how the AutoBeats portray their origin:

The year was 2000. The Wackacons had invaded the Emerald City. Parties grew listless and nightclubs suffered greatly under the Wackacons’ ever-growing influence. Repetitive loop manufacturers, lackluster DJs and angst-filled metal pushers aligned with the Wackacons and quickly flourished in our once-great city.

It was later that year when fate brought four independently minded Autobeat technicians together. Instantly, their positronic brainpaths fused. Within weeks, laid-back progressive hiphop beats were mixed with brutally brain-teasing rhymes.

It is the primary Objective of Optimus Rhyme to rid the world of Wackacon oppressors.

[…]

Taking the first step toward local unification, Optimus Rhyme rises from Cyphertron’s junk depot and feels the reassuring pulse of the Matrix.

I find these claims of being robots and hailing from Cyphertron no less plausible than the fictional backgrounds of other, more popular, hip-hop artists who claim they are somehow involved in cap-busting activities when not concocting “phat rhymes”. While white suburban kids line up at the record store to get the latest hits from MC MadDogBloodKilla and Mixmaster Leroy “I Shot Your Mom In The Face” Brown, these guys are keeping it real by dropping all pretensions of reality. The lyrics are written from this perspective: That they are transforming robots, facing the reality and living the lifestyle of transforming robots everywhere. The world of rap just suddenly got a lot bigger.

I can hear you saying, “Shamus, you have fully established their credentials as pop-culture and retro-culture satirists, but I need more than witty lyrics and nostalgia for old 80’s cartoons. Tell me, do they sound good?”

I would say that they sound good in much the same way that Hurricane Katrina was moist. The same way that calculating pi is time consuming. Just in case I’m still being too coy about this: Yes. They rock like Gibraltar.

I gladly swapped some money for their CD. That is the first time I’ve bought a brand-new CD in half a decade. If you are still overcome with incredulity, I suggest you download the free songs (about half of their available material) from their website and CD Baby.

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is a programmer, an author, and nearly a composer. He works on this site full time. If you’d like to support him, you can do so via Patreon or PayPal.

4Four comments. Fantastic.

From the Archives:

  1. John-Michael says:

    I completely agree! I recently discovered Opimus while looking for other nerdcore rappers on wikipedia. At first I was skeptical, but after I downloaded “LED’s” and listened to it once, I was hooked. The best part about nerdcore rap is that nobody takes themselves too seriously. Nobody claims to be dealing drugs or killing people on the weekends. Optimus Rhyme is a refreshingly talented and original group in a world full of clones and crap.

  2. I completely agree! I recently discovered Opimus while looking for other nerdcore rappers on wikipedia. At first I was skeptical, but after I downloaded “LED’s” and listened to it once, I was hooked. The best part about nerdcore rap is that nobody takes themselves too seriously. Nobody claims to be dealing drugs or killing people on the weekends. Optimus Rhyme is a refreshingly talented and original group in a world full of clones and crap.

  3. Benementat says:

    The good doctor could have just said: “What he said!”, but I suspect the good Dr. B has a few lines of code loose in is bus.

  4. Shamus: Old post, but I think you may be underestimating the creativity of conventional rap mythology. Busta Rhymes had a whole millenial apocalyptic theme going on, with an intro to one of his albums featuring a pretty creative apocalypse with cyborg soldiers and gene warfare and such, IIRC. Similarly, Deltron Zero raps about neuromancers who combine the best of technology and magic.

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