When people talk about pop cultural rapper Adam WarRock, much is said about nerds, freaks, and geeks. But don’t confuse his new album You Dare Call That Thing Human?!? as just another nerdcore offering. WarRock’s second full-length album -- following a number of mixtapes and singles -- is his most sophisticated yet and he’s finally beginning to catch the beat.
His obsession with pop culture and comics still dominates his rhymes but on this album, WarRock ‘s love for hip hop really comes through. The beats and musical arrangements are more complicated than previous efforts, but not overproduced and his voice comes through over even the heavier instrumentals. In You Dare Call That Thing Human?!? WarRock transcends the inevitable corner of niche hip hop without bounding over to polarizing mainstream hip pop or glossy club bangers. The album is full of references to comics, television, film, and hashtags -- with some obscure enough to test and tickle fanboys and girls -- but won’t alienate more mainstream listeners.
Adam WarRock. Photo courtesy of artist.
On “616,” WarRock slings, aggressively and at times with machine gun speed, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, I’m seeing green” a nod to hip hop’s love of money, or perhaps the violent aggression of The Hulk. Even the title itself “616,” could pass as a hometown affiliation masked as an area code or, if you know better, you’ll catch the reference to Marvel Comics multiverse Earth 616. Whether you get it or not, WarRock uses the syntax of hip hop to pull the rest of us in.
On “The Kids Table,” featuring Doctor Awkward, WarRock attempts to smack down any talk of his music as being just nerdcore with just enough pomp and attitude, calling himself out as the next generation and this moment as the silver age. The track “Retcon” is another comic book reference to when a past event is reframed to account for an unexpected contemporary plot need. WarRock uses this as a metaphor for the rewriting of one’s own life, a nerdy but apt analogy for what hip hop itself has historically tried to do -- rewrite history on its own terms. He weaves together anecdotes of superheroes with stories of immigrants, quitting his job to become a rap artist, or life on the road and calls for us to rewrite our own histories as needed, or as he says, his “origin story has to be rewritten again.”
In a musical world full of singles and club hits, it’s a challenge to put together a cohesive album, especially for an artist like WarRock who pumps out tracks when he wants and then releases them online. WarRock’s attempt is worthy. His intro and interludes at times feel heavy handed but perhaps that’s because he shows us a sincerity and sensitivity in the other tracks that allow us to see our own experience in between the beats and breaths.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!