The music is made on computers, drum machines, and other high-tech pieces of equipment. In the lyrics, the more random the references and slantier the rhymes, the better. Of course this is all obscured by the “thug” image that’s overtaken the genre, but the fact remains, rappers and DJs are big geeks. Just look at the lyrics to Wu-Tang Clan’s Triumph, or check out RZA’s sweet chess game.
So, that’s why the whole sub-genre of suburban white people trying to be funny by overly-enunciating rap lyrics and awkwardly swaying to the beat doesn’t really work. Nerdy plus nerdy equals irritating, not amusing. Check the Brown-educated MC Paul Barman or the reprehensible MC Rove episode if you need further convincing.
However, The Large Hadron Rap, from 23-year-old Michigan State graduate student Kate McAlpine, is a huge exception to this rule.
For those who haven’t read Angels and Demons, the Large Hadron Collider is a humgous and expensive experiment being run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) underneath the France/Switzerland border.
Scientists will accelerate protons up to the speed of light in an attempt to recreate the conditions that led to the Big Bang. The experiment could yield glimpses at dark matter, the Higgs boson, new dimensions and other particles and phenomena that I can’t begin to explain. There also might be a slight chance (about one in 45 billion) that a black hole could appear that could swallow up Earth. (To see if that’s happened yet, check one internet genius’ handy guide – http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com).
The video does as good a job explaining the experiment as any New York Times or CNN article that I’ve read. Sure McAlpine has no flow and a borderline-annoying cadence, but there’s really no better way to explain the Large Hadron Collider to an ignorant audience.
Hip-hop is the perfect medium because it’s the best way to fit a ton of words and information into a little space. Putting it on YouTube is the best way to reach a large audience and, with over 2 million views since late July, Large Hadron is a bona-fide hit.
Geek rap may be a thoroughly redundant genre, but not when it comes to something like the CERN experiment. The Large Hadron Rap works not because it’s trying to be nerdy, but because it is nerdy. Many times nerdier than even RZA, Swizz Beatz, Lil’ Wayne or any other hip-hopper who spends his days twiddling knobs and writing rhymes about Orville Redenbacher.
Image by timtom