THE FIVE FACES OF DORKNESS: BLUESWADE CARTOON’s Five Part Interview Series on Nerdcore Hip Hop
PART ONE: TEKnical Analysis
Comic Geek Punk interviews Dallas Nerdcore artist TEKFORCE
It’s seven A.M., and Darren Columbus is tasked with three missions.
The simplest of the three is probably the most important. There are plates set out on the counter. As his two children and partner rush to prepare for their typical daily routines, Dad is whipping up a substantial breakfast, to nourish and energize the people he loves most. Banter ensues: Questions are asked. Goals are set. Love is exchanged. Encouragement is instilled among the family of four.
7:40 AM: Darren is now en-route to his second task. Mission two, is the glue that binds missions one and three, as it functions as a bread-winner to finance his operations. Darren’s on his way to the call center. Dallas traffic is unkind at this hour of day. Fine with him. This is a good opportunity to feed his brain. Darren throws on his MP3 collection, and starts listening to music. To say he’s merely enjoying the audio would be an understatement: Class is in session. De La Soul, MC Chris, DangerDoom. As a mix of classic hip hop standards, modern cuts performed by his peers, and unheard instrumental productions filter through, Darren is feeling his most connected. His commitment to his cubicle and his customers are without question an asset to his office; he’s been a loyal to his office a long time. Any man yearning for his passion’s manifestation knows that no dream worth chasing can be found staring at the felt walls of a cubicle. Task three is going to kick off Friday night, and Darren is preparing to enter the mainframe.
Mission three takes place on a completely different realm of existence than anything we know in the corporal world. Transcending his human guise, Darren digitizes himself into his digitized self: TEKFORCE. As a being comprised of light, and reinforced by sound, TEK blasts through the darkest nooks and crannies of the Internet, atop a glowing light-cycle. As an emcee, Tek has taken it upon himself to spread his digital light among those who’d benefit from his message and experiences. Armed with his latest album release, TEK SUPPORT, our subject is bound determined to give voice to a demographic that garners almost no acknowledgement: that of the 20-to-30 something cubicle warrior.
The BLUESWADE CARTOONS staff was fortunate enough to listen to an advanced copy of TEK SUPPORT before its actual release. Upon listening, it was quickly agreed that TekForce’s debut outing is a very solid independent first project. Underneath its polish, and well-crafted promotional push, Tek’s first go-around boasts a mix of national legends of the Nerdcore genre such as MegaRan and Alpha Riff, to his own talented circle of friends and local artists. The amount of unabashed individual perspective, realness, and desire for individuality truly stands out. Regardless of whether a casual hip hop fan enjoys Nerdcore, this album also has potential appeal to backpackers and heads starving for legitimately powerful 90’s throwback. If somebody who wasn’t a fan of Nerdcore said they listened to music by cats such as Masters Of Illusions, Wordburgler, or Monster Island Czars, TEK SUPPORT would be a fantastic gateway one could open for others into the that specific realm of genre.
In our first part, we talk with TekForce, about comics, music, and family. We go in-depth a little on touring and promoting. This weekend, Tek will be performing at a benefit for a toy museum breaking ground in Austin, Texas.
Click the link presented above, and give your undivided attention to the pleasant sonic frequencies, which will complement the corresponding interview below, quite nicely…
CGP: TEK SUPPORT just dropped. This is your Freshman album, and nationally, you are turning heads within the Nerdcore circuit. Your promotional push for your album is far more polished and professional than many people who drop a first project. Tell us a little on how you garnered that experience? Did you have some friends and mentors give you solid advice and experience to burst out the gate in such an impressive manner?
TEKFORCE: Man I’m soooo happy this album is finally out! It seems like it’s been 2 to 3 years in the making. And, in a way, it was. I’ve always had an issue with putting plans in place. I could come up with the ideas, but my execution was always flawed. Mostly, because I just lacked any kind of focus, besides the music. About a year ago, I met a homie for life by the name of Louis Gray. He’s an emcee out of Dallas, and has been in the hip-hop scene for quite a while. He heard my music, and reached out to me, to just learn more about me and my music. He basically saw a guy that had the music, had the ambition, but didn’t know how to draw more attention to it. He didn’t owe me anything, yet he wanted to get my music beyond Nerdcore, and get it more to EVERYBODY. Taught me the value of self-promotion, and getting your product in people’s faces… Who is going to know about it, if you don’t tell them? The guy helped me with a self-confidence I didn’t really have, and made me go even harder on the mic. Now I have my album out, finally have merch to sell, and doing paid gigs. What difference one person can make in your life….
CGP: I can totally relate. My boss Bryan Wade has done the exact same for me. Speaking of the devil, you and Wade got to talking, and you guys both are apparently both huge Charles Schulz fans. Is Nerdom sleeping on the newspaper print-aspect of geek culture? Is maintaining a familiarity with the history of these intellectual properties important to where we go in the future?
TEKFORCE: Well I think it’s a matter of the generation honestly. B. Wade and I, we were raised when everything was print moving into digital slowly, so if you wanted to read comics, you had to pick up a paper as a kid. It was the only way you read Garfield, Heathcliff, and Peanuts of course. Plus you hold things to your heart that were dear to YOU. For instance, you see all these Pokemon remixes, and Power Ranger remixes of songs because that’s part of someone’s childhood. By the time those came out, I was too old to care, but I understand why people hold them close. Same reason I do Tron, Ghostbusters, Robotech….it reminds us of the things we love.
CGP: You mentioned Ghostbusters. We’re both fans of the franchise. You and I were talking about the IDW Ghostbusters comic series, the other day. In addition to the main series, they are doing a crossover between the film and animated series counterparts. In terms of the character dynamics, what are these guys doing right that is winning over lifelong fans of the franchise? Are they fleshing out the ‘Buster’s individual lives outside of the firehouse in an interesting framing?
TEKFORCE: Man, when you talk about the IDW comic and what Eric Burnham is doing….really fantastic! I feel like they are paying tribute to the both the film and animated series so well. The thing that the comic focuses on is literally the continuation of what happened after 1 & 2. They’ve beat Zuul… They beat Viggo… What happens now? Well in this series of course they encounter more ghost, demons, and god know what else, but they also talk about how they are developing personal relationships. For instance, Winston gets married, Ray finds a girlfriend, and Egon finally starts to confront his feelings for Jeanine. It honestly expands on the world that another movie probably wouldn’t be able to. They even had a 4 issue mini-series called, “The Ghostbusters Get Real”, which has the two meet each other in a straight EPIC FANBOY mash up. It was really one that was dedicated to us old heads that used to watch the show growing up.
CGP: In regards to touring, since you dropped the album last week, you’ve been proactively putting together show dates in and around Texas. Nerdcore seems to have a handful of hotspots nationwide that they do well in: Seattle, Denver, New York, San Francisco, and Austin. With all of those spots being so far apart, a national tour would be hard on the budget. However, other music scenes, folk punk and metal for example, bands network, put each other up, and promote for one another. In your honest opinion, is Nerdcore best left to chat rooms and message boards? Or do you think national solidarity between promoters and acts can help push it to a new forefront?
TEKFORCE: Well I think the birthplace for Nerdcore is chat rooms and message boards. That’s how topics came up to rap about! (Laughs) But it can translate to touring, I think the artist has to decide what they REALLY want to do with the music. If you want to keep it a hobby, cool you can definitely make fun tracks for yourself, or for other people to enjoy. But if you are seriously trying to do this for real, you have to make it a point to sit down and decide what you want to, and how you want to do it. There are people in any music genre that are making money, because they decided to make that transition, and learn more about business, and talk to the people that are making a living out of it.
You can see even in Nerdcore the people that are teaming up to do tours, and helping each other out with venues, or contacts. Then there are people who just like in any industry, who want to keep info to themselves through the fear that if someone gets their contact, or connect, it could kick them out of their spot. I never subscribe to that, and I feel everybody has the opportunity to shine. My hustle, is not your hustle. My fan is not your fan. If they like your work better than mine, COOL! 8 billion other people in this world that may dig TekForce. So to answer your question, I believe we can take it to new heights, if we first KNOW this is what we want, and second, that we work together to achieve it.
CGP: Your brother is also an emcee, and he is one of the few coveted guest spots on the album. Mind schooling us a little about him? Does he have an album in the cut?
TekForce: Yeah! My little bro, Vincent Rockafella is featured on “Put Your Hands Up”, with another fellow nerdcore emcee SkyBlew. It’s so funny because I raised him in hip-hop. I would listen to old Tribe, Gangstaar, Nas tapes and Vin would always be there listening and picking it up. I guess it got in his blood too cause he’s a DOPE EMCEE! I honestly think he’s better than I am, but that’s the big bro in me talking. He has a solo project out: The Best Rapper You Never Heard Of. That boy has FIRE on that album. I produced one of the tracks off of it too. He’s poised to really make some noise in 2016.
CGP: Since we’re on the subject of guest appearances featured on the album, out of the guest appearances on Tek Support, who’s the one cat you reached out to you wish could have laid down some vocals for this?
TekForce: I wish Ishida could’ve been on it, we had a track we were going to do, but it didn’t really flesh out the way I wanted. He’ll be on the next one, though, for sure. Richie Branson, was another one, dude is nice on the mic. He’s also crazy busy, so if we even meet up, I’ll definitely approach him about it.
CGP: Richie Branson is a one man media production MACHINE. Now that I’ve listened to the album in its entirety, I wanted to point out that for many to label this project strictly Nerdcore would be selling it short, in terms of artistic merit. Not in a sense to demean Nerdcore: I love Nerdcore. But this project seems to have varying degrees of depth that go outside of those parameters. The way you dissect subject matters, and also with one-off songs like Heaven’s Lost Property… your music is legit ambrosia for hip hop heads’ minds. In future projects, can we expect to possibly see you tackle more rooted subjects, other than what’s standard for a Nerdcore album?
TekForce: It’s funny I was actually talking to someone about that this morning. That album has kind of a nerdcore outer shell, but on the inside is the different sides of TekForce. At the heart, I’m hip hop, and it’s what I’ve loved my whole life. So whatever I do is going to have that part of me in it. I noticed with a lot of Nerdcore projects, there is a lot of some of the newer EDM, Dubstep, type sounds to it and that’s definitely dope. I embrace it all. But with my album, I wanted to have a more traditional hip-hop experience. A lot of the youth now and days don’t know what that is, and I felt a responsibility to show them. Plus an album has to be well-rounded, and even if you have a central theme, each track can be different. Take my homie Ambush Vin. His album is based on these characters called “The Mastigi”, that are trying to destroy the universe. Sounds very nerdcore right? But if you listen to his album, he talks Racial Inequality, Hip Hop, the youth of America, all different subjects. My next album after this will be “The Light Cycle Chronicles” album, which will deal of course with the first Tron, but now that Tek Support is out, I plan to move to more serious topics, especially surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.
CGP: In your promotional art, you are wearing a Unicron shirt. Were you aware that in the Marvel G1 comics, Unicron and Primus’ origins were tied to Jack Kirby’s works, like Galactus, the Phoenix Force, and the Living Tribunal?
TekForce: You know what, I never knew that dude!!! But it makes complete sense, because if you look at Unicron, he’s literally EATS worlds like Galactus, and is structured in a very similar way. I’ve always loved Unicron, I think mostly because of that music by Vince Dicola that opens up the movie. I remember seeing the Transformers Movie when I was a kid, and that music was the greatest thing I have ever heard. It’s probably the reason I love synthesizers in beats so much! (Laughs)
CGP: DUDE I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST NAME-DROPPED VINCE DECOLA! His score work is amazing! I can’t thank you for your time. I’m copping a copy of the album. And I definitely want a signed copy of the poster that I can hang proudly with the rest of my music history. I can’t tell the hip hop community in my state enough about how great this album is. I certainly hope we can get you out here for an event in the future!
TekForce: You got it man! Thank you for interviewing me. I definitely want to see about performing in your neck of the woods… if anything to check out the gorgeous scenery!
Tek Support is out now, for purchase. You can find TekForce on Facebook, Periscope, and other fine social media outlets.
After you are done buying his album, GO CHECK OUT OUR NEW AMAZON STORE! We had to put the bootlegging scum in Kentucky on notice!
Rick McDowell, AKA Comic Geek Punk is a writer, blogger, and gentleman adventurer. His credentials include being featured on an Adult Swim bumper at two in the morning, and having captured all 720 Pokemon through six game generations. You can reach out to him through any of Blueswade Cartoons various online media, or check out his stuff at facebook.com/comicgeekpunk.
Silver Surfer/Galactus by ZeroMethem, DeviantArt
Ghostbusters Jeanine cosplay by www.facebook.com/Jannetcosplay/