Canadian rappers seem to have embraced the “it’s okay to be different” vibe. While at times they can be pleasantly indistinguishable from familiar U.S. rap stars, up North emcees can also embrace their inner darkness or completely nerd the f–k out on wax. In an era where it seems like every new Yankee on the scene wants to be “Lil This” or “Lil That,” spend more time singing than rapping, and brag about their out of control drug habits, it’s nice to see a scene where artists don’t all turn out like formulaic clones. At times it even feels and sounds like the underground rap scene from the 1990’s, when a whole generation of artists inspired by old school and golden age rap records tried to both pay tribute to hip-hop and reinvent its very nature.
Toronto triple threat More Or Les is another example of that hardcore yet self-effacing hip-hop attitude. He truly does it all – he raps, produces and deejays – yet he has unapologetically geek songs on his new album “Nerd Love” like “Klingon Neighbours.” (The “U” in “Neighbor” is a dead giveaway he’s either British or Canadian – in this case the latter). The song is immediately humorous to me as an unapologetic nerd who grew up watching ST:TOS reruns and remembers ST:TNG debuting in syndication during my teen years (Counselor Troi was such a hottie). Although the verses are dope in and of themselves it’s the throwaway jokes between them as a “chorus” of sorts that really make me chuckle – lines like “It must be fun to have redundant organs” and “I can’t get with blood wine.” Your apprecation of the song will be greatly enhanced if you’ve seen even one Star Trek movie. He’s not above sharing the “Nerd Love” with others though as the posse song “Choose Your Own Avenger” brings in Wordburglar, Nilla, int eighty, Touch and MikeAll.
That’s far from the only cameos on this album. Long time RR favorite Mega Ran drops in for “Hidden In Plain Sight,” Jesse Dangerously joins the fun on “Double Tomahawk,” everybody from Timbuktu to the aforementioned Wordburglar raps on “Picard Maneuver,” and I could go on and on like the zeroes in googolplex. To be honest this makes me appreciate solo joints like the comic book tribute “22 Pages” all the more. More Or Les has a vocal tone that reminds me of Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, a deep resonant baritone that could win over even the hardest of hardocks leery of his nerdy topics. If you still have doubts though listen to the title track produced by Astract Artform and judge for yourself.
The album checks in at 46 minutes, just long enough for a chill listening session but not so long you’ll have to postpone your next Marvel binge on Netflix. I’m more or less into More Or Les because he’s so up front about his love of what’s come to be called “nerd culture” – science fiction, comic books, technology and the like. Of course the difference between a “nerrrrrrrrd” and the average person on the street these days is as much a matter of perception and/or social awkwardness as it is cultural given that every Marvel movie seems to smash box office records.