When I first heard that line back in 2002, I did the perfect screw face Hip Hop head nod. Not only was Quality the debut album by one of my favorite emcees, Talib Kweli, but the track “Guerilla Monsoon Rap” (produced by an up-and-coming mostly unknown guy named Kanye West), featured some lyrical heavyweights: Black Thought and Pharoahe Monche. I’d been digging Pharoahe since he was a few pounds heavier and urging me to “Crush, Kill, Destroy Stress.” Now here he was invoking none other than Doctor Victor Von Doom, nemesis of the Fantastic Four, in a rap lyric. To top off my geek-o-meter, just a few lines earlier, Black Thought began his verse with, “Yo, I hit these emcees with the grip of death like I was a Vulcan.” Niiiiice! But not surprising. Speculative fiction in Hip Hop is common, and has been as long as I can remember. In an art form that prides itself on metaphor and simile to prove bravado, and relies on technological innovation to make beats, rhymes and life, delving into the fantastic, the imaginative, the futurist, the beyond-our-natural-world, seems both normal and inevitable. Call it Hip Hop’s Geeky-Cool chewy gooey center. I expect everyone knows that. Right? Err, Wrong. Because according to an article over at the gamers site Kotaku, Hip Hop–usually a home to “thug” acts and lyrics that don’t “go beyond what can be found between a woman’s legs or at the tip of a lighter”–has refreshingly given birth to a “growing subgenre” that “features nerds and geeks who perform songs about feelings.”
Hmmm. Someone maybe didn’t do their Hip Hop homework . . . ?