The Nerdcore VPC | Stiborge Reviews Round 3

The Nerdcore VPC | Stiborge Reviews Round 3

The annual Nerdcore Vocalist Producer Challenge is back for a fourth outing. Teams of producers and vocalists go head to head through a series of challenges over several months with the ambition of being crowned the VPC IV champions.

The round three tracks are in for the VPC IV, a now annual competition, where producers and vocalists form teams of two to compete in challenges set by the organisers. Each round has strict criteria to be met by both the beatmaker and the vocalist as well as adhering to a theme or key component in the makeup of their track.

Points are awarded by a team of four judges for how well the teams have achieved the tasks set out whilst a public vote makes up the fifth component of the scoring system.

As is tradition The Unheard Nerd has its very own resident VPC critic ready to heap praise or cast damnation on each of the tracks in each of the rounds. It is our great honour to welcome back once again Forrest aka ‘Stiborge’ to review round three.

Round Three Challenge | Judges Choice

It’s an election year, and unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you’ve probably noticed that it’s been quite a sight to behold. It is now time to provide your unique perspective on the political climate of the world.

For the full rules for round threeo, to find out about round three and for everything you need to know about VPC IV visit the VPC IV website – and to keep up with all the chatter surrounding the competition like the VPC facebook page. To hear a playlist of each of the tracks check out the soundcloud page.

Stiborge Reviews Round Three

Hey ya’ll sorry this is a little late this year but I think that me and Will both has some LIFE stuff getting in the way that lead to me just not being happy about what I was doing while I was finishing the VPC review and Will not getting around to publishing it for a little bit. But this is probably better because it gave me a chance to read through it with fresh eyes and fix it up a bit before it went up and I hope it turns out a little better. I mean, I’m sure some of ya’ll are still gonna be mad but… you know… not AS mad.


West Coast Finest – Walang Hiya
Vocalist: Shubzilla
Producer: Billy the Beatsmith

This was a pretty solid start to the playlist. The beat and raps were high energy and entertaining. It focused on the specific topic of appropriation of a specific culture, especially in regards to “yellow face” usage in major motion pictures which made the track feel very cohesive and allowed it to give better insight on its chosen topic. I really enjoyed when the language flipped to… what I contextually assume was Tagalog but I can’t identify it myself (which is kind of embarrassing since one of my grandma’s best friends growing up was from the Philippines). Also the last verse switch up being about Filipino Spaghetti was a very funny diversion from the seriousness of the rest of the song and caught me off guard. I think that really pushes it closer into “favorite songs of the round” territory for me. Oh, and of course that Bill Beats scratching on the tail end of the track helps too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tha Go Hamurai – They Ain’t (Presidential)
Vocalist: Ish1da
Producer: Scotty Wu

Why did Scotty Wu have to watermark the beat? We know it’s your beat. You’re the producer on the team at the VPC. Going away from that, I liked everything about this song except the lyrical content. Ish’s flow has really grown on me over the years. I mean, it’s still not my favorite thing ever but I like it. It’s fine. The hook is a little annoying but not as awful as that fucking abomination of a hook ya’ll turned in last round so whatever. But yeah, the song is basically an ode to political apathy which isn’t all that interesting to listen too especially with the pro Bernie slant to it. There’s actually another team that did an ode to political apathy (post Bernie) song later on the playlist that I thought worked much better. Um… there were a lot of presidential references to things like the Kennedy assassination, Bush’s war, Monika Lewinsky etc etc. The same shit you hear all the time in songs that I will always groan at but at least here it had some kind of context to it.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Team StarboRob – Nii-san (Can’t Save You)
Vocalist: Starby
Producer: RoboRob

The beat to this song starts out catchy and gets extremely cluttered very quickly. The beat is kind of a monster that engulfs Starby’s vocals whole and refuses to let them see the light of day. I guess that makes sense tho since Rob did mention some trouble on the time signature aspect of the challenge. As far as lyrical content goes, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It does a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on the hero worship of Bernie in the first verse and kind of flips it to talk about local elections and actual things to do in the second half verse thing. I don’t know if it pulls off what it’s trying to do and what it’s trying to do is a little conceptually simplistic but I don’t hate it or anything.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Seether ft Amy Lee – Black Hitler vs MechaTrump
Vocalist: Jollimus Prime
Producer: Juggamus Rhyme

The team name Jollimus chose for this made me laugh harder than anything else in the competition so far I think. I laughed for a solid minute about Jolli naming his “team” Seether ft Amy Lee. It almost makes me want to give the song more than one star for that name alone… I mean I’m not going too because the song is fucking unlistenable but good on that. The “song” is like someone aggressively trying to annoy me with an instrument while Jolli tells a relatively funny fake story about black hitler and mecha trump in the background on Stickam or something.

Rating: 1 out of 10

Saints of San Secuestro – The Art of the Troll
Vocalist: Yugen
Producer: Sir Not Appearing in the Round

Yeah. I get it. It’s like that meme. It’s kind of the same thing Beaker did last year when he started rapping and then it went into a Rick Roll, except like… less funny and less good.

Rating: 1 out of 10

P4strami – Let Em In
Vocalist – C0splay
Producer – Zilla Persona

Okay, so this song is about gatekeepers in a couple different contexts. In the first verse we have literal gatekeepers in regards to refugees, and obviously things like the US/Mexican border etc. And in the second verse we have reference to cultural gatekeepers in regards to nerd culture. I do not know if the song flows from one topic to the other how you want it too. I get what the song was going for in the connection but it feels a little clunky on first listen. And speaking of clunky there’s something not quite right about the hook and I’m not sure whether it’s a mixing or delivery issue but it sounds a little off to me but not really enough to actually hurt my enjoyment too much. I’d still put the song firmly in the “songs I liked” category tho, despite that issue.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Orzhovian Rhythm – Irony
Vocalist: Rhythm Bastard
Producer: Small Code

Well… it is better than last round. It’s still not good but it’s better. Rhythm Bastard trips over a lot of lyrics in his flow and it comes off very awkward. The distortion in the beginning of the song was pretty unpleasant in a way that wasn’t particularly interesting. The beat was way simplistic; it has a PBS educational video transition feeling to it and sounds more like a preset beat template than an actual beat… but unlike the first song it does sound like something that could be built upon to make an interesting beat. Lyrically, it’s something I agree with. At least the second verse is, the first verse seems to go a little off the rails but it buckles down and starts addressing what it wants to address eventually. This song isn’t completely unlistenable I don’t think so… good improvement?

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Rating: 2 out of 10

Ohm-I 1-Up – The Devil You Know
Vocalist: Ohm-I
Producer: 1-Up

So… things I liked about this track… Well. I like Ohm-I’s delivery on everything. And the implied metaphor is kind of clever-ish. I probably would have liked this beat had it been used for a different song. But uh… no I can’t say I was really a fan. The song was largely predicated on enjoyment of gross out humor… I’m not really a fan of gross out humor. And while the coy establishing of the metaphor at the end made me go “oh, I see what you did there.” It really doesn’t make the song any more enjoyable for me to listen to.

Rating: 3 out of 10

#NoCuteShitAllBangers – I believe we have met the criteria again, but you won’t get it
Vocalist: Lavos
Producer: Whoremoans

I just about lost my shit when I heard the Jeb Bush “please clap” sample. I really wish there had been more to the song than the Jeb Bush “please clap” sample. I want to be all pretentious and pretend I get this… but I’m not gonna. It just wasn’t entertaining to listen to and the substance was nothing as far as I can tell. I suppose the beat was interesting if a little soul crushingly repetitive. I initially gave this a 1 but I was able to listen to it all the way through multiple times so I guess even if it was kind of a nothing feeling that just passed over me so I guess a 1 is a little harsh.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Magical Beer Squad – A Simple Guide to Immigration
Vocalist: Twil Distilled
Producer: B-Type

I have some mixing issues with this song; especially in the intro and the outro. Like… you seemed to be going for a political PSA type deal for the intro that I think could have worked better had Ally maybe been mixed down a bit or maybe you started the Star Spangled better slightly earlier to give me time to prepare? I dunno… all I know is that when Ally comes in with that “Ah yes” it’s startling. And I probably would have cut the outro out completely but that’s just cause I’ve seen too many iterations of that “say something in the general template of Donald Trumps ‘words’ quote” joke. The song probably would have worked better if it had stuck with the sarcastic “rules” format or at least kept perspective until the spoken end part instead of breaking off part way through the second verse. Also, lines about people “caring more about celebrities on TV than their fellow man” make me role my eyes back through my head and it was pretty unclear whether that was the legitimate voice of the song or a mockery of the ideals of someone trying to emigrate to Canada (see that’s kind of the problem I’m talking about with the switched perspective) so I don’t know if I’m rolling my eyes with or at the song.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Helephino –Vinyasa Yoga Farm
Vocalist – Adam Selene
Production – Navi

So… this song is basically just like a thing ripping on stereotypical white hippie cliches… but it’s better than that description sounds. It addresses all that cultural appropriation aspects and the ablest aspects of that stereotypical hippie culture so it isn’t just like a shallow South Park joke of a song. Navi’s beat is fun and has a nice grove to it and Adam keeps perspective through the whole song which is something that I’ve had a few problems with in some of the other songs. Also, I like The Killers and I like the song that you took the uh… sample? Reference? Whatever it is from but I’m not 100% sure why you used it here. I think the cliché addressed in the song is a little heavy handed and it kind of bothered me at first particularly in the beginning with the talk about Kombucha and chi and whatnot but it bothered me less in subsequent listens. This was one of the songs that I stuck with and enjoyed in the playlist.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Flying Fortress – El Perico
Vocalist: IllGill
Producer: Nameless

This team is weird. Like, whenever Nameless does a good job with the beat I think that Illgill does poorly with the rapping and whenever I think that Illgill does alright with the rapping I hate the beat. This is one of the ones where I actually am alright with the beat. It’s pretty bright and fun and I don’t think that Illgill really works with it. The song starts with exaggerated accents that I think are supposed to be funny and if I’m correct and they are supposed to be funny than they aren’t really. The song feels inconsistent while still sticking to the general loose topic. Like, it states that the war on drugs is ridiculous then the framing of the rest is kind of weird. Like, it feels more like a lecture to someone that got arrested as part of the war on drugs than it feels like its addressing any of the deep intrinsic problems with the war on drugs all together. And maybe that’s just a problem with expectation I guess but it was still pretty disappointing.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Fated Rebellion – Viva La Rebellion
Vocalist: Lady J
Producer: Benjamin Banger

Okay, so the actual rapping on this song is phenomenal. I really dig Lady J’s flow on this song. The beat feels a little bare bones. Like I barely noticed it when I’m listening to the songs which I guess is alright it’s just not that exciting. The sample of what I assume was whatever anthem you used underlying the hook sounded pretty decent. Lyrically, I felt the track was lacking nuance but I guess that’s to be expected with a song called “Viva La Rebellion.” I also have a hard time with how unfocused the song was. Like, I think the songs of this round work better when they zero in on a specific thing and this song felt more like a smorgasbord of various sociopolitical issues including a line about how Bernie should have “taken Hillary’s light” that it’s not entirely certain whether you meant light in reference to like… maybe limelight or if it was a reference to her life which is sometimes addressed as “light.” I’m gonna assume it’s the former and with that assumption I think this song falls on the better end of okay but could have done with some more focus.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The E.L. & Solo Act – A Short Poem About Donuts
Vocalist: Vincent EL
Producer: Shawn Solo

Well. This is an argument I’ve seen over and over and over again in tv show after tumblr post after facebook rant. And this song isn’t necessarily a new hot take on it… but it also feels kind of fresh. Well, it at least feels more fresh than it should for an argument I’ve seen made so many fucking times before. First off, the exact donut comparison is not one that I’ve seen before, which is very welcome because usually this topic is addressed with the same 3 or 4 tumblr post comparisons that get thrown around so much that they’re teetering on cliché. And in the interest of fairness the song does indulge in some of those clichés as well. As far as the song itself goes, it’s alright. The beat itself isn’t super interesting or super there… it’s very much in the background to the point that it almost seems negligible. But it is a nice sounding beat and Vincent E.L does kind of address it in the sing songy way they deliver the lyrics. The song calls itself a “poem” in the title and I think that’s fitting because it does feel more like a poem than an actual full rap song. It’s very short and the delivery is very much like someone reading a poem aloud for the most part. That being said, Vincent pulls it off with some charisma in their delivery.

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Rating: 6 out of 10

Disstopia – Throne to the Wolves
Vocalist: MC 117
Producer: Flexstyle

You know what, I’m just gonna say this song is entirely a song about the political situation in Narnia and ignore any plausible allusions to any real world events. Partially because I don’t know for sure if it IS supposed to be an allusion and partially because I like it better that way. It makes me imagine all of the creatures of Narnia screaming about how the proletariat will control the means of production and that amuses me greatly. Honestly, this song was one of the few songs that I wanted to listen to again after I finished my initial listen. It is a very pleasant song to listen too. It’s a little more toned down than I was expecting after some of the “you’re not ready” shit talk but toned down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The song amuses me and is a pleasant listen so I’m gonna go ahead and say that Disstopia did it again this round and put this song among my favorites of the round. It very much works.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Dappersaurus – Mad About You (abstract observation mix)
Vocalist: An Hobbes
Producer: 2-Ton-21

Here we go again Dappersaurus. My fucking nemesis of this VPC. Well let’s see how I felt about your song THIS round…
It’s my favorite song of the round. Like legit my favorite. Not “one of” but my favorite song of the round. Getting the bias out right away I have to say that I fucking adore bagpipes. And I think that this instrumental is fucking fantastic and I was immediately taken with that as one of a handful of songs I actually enjoyed on my first listen. I don’t even know what to say about the lyrical content. Like, it’s very lyrically poetic and interestin but I’m having trouble deciphering it. Please Hobbes and 2 Ton let me know what exactly this song is about. Honestly, the beat is really amazing and I love the lyrics and flow even if I’m having a hard time trying to interpret them exactly. So unless An Hobbes and 2-Ton-21 get back to me with something like “oh, it’s about how we need to build that border wall stronger” or “it’s my white power anthem” or something it’ll probably stay in the number one position.

Rating: 9 out of 10

CamOFlage – Planetary Propaganda
Vocalist: Osiris Green
Producer: Cam3

Okay. I don’t know if anyone would be familiar with the movie “We Are The Best” but it’s a movie about a bunch of like 12 year old girls that form a punk band. Well there’s this scene where they’re trying to write a political punk song and it comes out ridiculous… it’s just this well-meaning but ill-advised collection of a bunch of “bad stuff”™ thrown together like “the school system wants me to fail and people are starving in Africa,” It’s just nothing with no consistency in topic and with everything treated with the exact same weight regardless of actual severity. And this song kind of reminds me of that. It’s just such a miss match of different concepts of such varying levels of severity and, for that matter, existence all while remaining vague enough to not really address anything too specific with anything except a brief blurb and it all comes off as very silly to me especially when the vocal delivery has so much passion in it. In all fairness I think I just have an instant negative reaction to that type of song in general so take this how you will.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Beat Tape Bandits – DOFH
Vocalist: Lex Lingo
Producer: Klopfenpop

So… full disclosure the first time I previewed this track I was stoned as shit and thought it was the fucking funniest thing I had ever heard. And, you know what, I still chuckle when I hear the chorus back up Lex’s singing “Dick’s out for Harambe” like it’s the most serious thing in the fucking world. I find this song infinitely listenable. The beat is fantastic and Lex’s singing and rapping is fucking great. As much as I’m not super huge on the Harambe meme phenomenon for the most part I think the fact that they did it as their song for this was very funny and any conspiracy theory angle added to the music is even better cause I love me some absolutely off the wall conspiracy theory goof rap.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Aural Sex – He Used to Feel the Bern (But Now He Feels Nothing At All)
Vocalist: Johnny Hacknslash
Producer: Code E

This is the last and by FAR most shameless of the Bernie songs of this round. That being said, it’s probably my favorite of the Bernie songs. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the phrase “he used to feel the Bern but now he feels nothing at all” is very initially amusing to me. This song produced a few of my biggest genuine laughs from the competition from the admitting that the third person Jay angle was to cover up writing it in first person at the very start of the song to “can you just kill that beat, it needs to be dead inside just like Bernie’s supporters.” Honestly, I’m kind of fucking mad that I enjoy this song as much as I do considering how completely not looking forward to it at all I was.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Annex Dote – Somnambulists
Vocalist: Kordlyss
Producer: Ardamus

I don’t know how I feel about this song. I think it’s a little too weird to work for me. It really feels like the beat and the vocals are competing for my attention. Both elements seem fine on their own, although the beat does seem a bit messy but they don’t really come together at all. For me at least. I know some people are probably really going to, at least sonically, enjoy this track and more power to them. From what I can tell, this song is about the transgender bathroom debate. And it seems to address other things too like the transgender panic defense. I’m not actually sure if it stays about that because it seems to lose focus in the second half but I can see how a correlation between the two verses could be made. Honestly, I think this song is too out there for me to really dislike but it’s not sonically appealing enough to me for me to really like it either.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Huge thanks to Stiborge, be sure to check out his Round Four Review. Lead Image by Ally Desu for VPC IV.

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