In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of this week’s theme, we’re doing songs with Star Wars references.
Nerdcore may not be the most popular subgenre of hip-hop, but it’s certainly a stubborn one. Gathering steam in the early 2000s after MC Frontalot coined the label in his song “Nerdcore Hiphop,” it’s one of those nebulous terms that has attracted a self-proclaimed fanbase and roster of identified artists, even as the term itself has been applied in a variety of ways. While any topics traditionally considered part of the purview of “nerds”—science fiction, math, fantasy, and so on—can be aligned, the label defines those who see themselves as such. It’s a community, ultimately—and by that rationale, MC Chris has been an ambiguous part of the movement, at best.
The rapper—real name Christopher Brendan Ward—started performing around the turn of the century under his hip-hop moniker, usually with backing band The Lee Majors (a.k.a. pop-punk group Dirt Bike Annie). His first album Life’s A Bitch And I’m Her Pimp came out in 2001, and the artist quickly became identified with nerdcore, due to his rapid-fire delivery on subjects ranging from Star Wars to Harry Potter. But he was uncomfortable being affixed with the term, leading to a situation in which he often resisted the label, even as the genre’s fans embraced him, wondering what his problem was. Eventually, MC Chris made his peace with both the term and the community, and has continued self-releasing records throughout the years, including excellent ones like 2014’s MC Chris Foreverrr (get Part 1 of this double album), which has some killer tracks about Ghostbusters. (As with many hip-hop albums, you can generally skip the skits.)
But things kicked off with that debut record, which has easily the best song you’ll ever hear about Boba Fett’s supposed automobile—and not just because it’s also the only song you’ll ever hear about the subject. “Fett’s Vette” is a labor of love from someone clearly obsessed with his subject matter, a young and hungry rap fanatic who decided he had to hold court on the matter. A first-person narration from the bounty hunter, he immediately calls out your lack of knowledge: “My story has stumped Star Wars historians / Deep in debate, buffet plate at Bennigan’s.” Throughout the track, the Fett-man weaves a narrative about a no-bullshit guy who only has eyes for his prized quarry, Han Solo. That is, when he’s not tooling around the galaxy, demonstrating an aggressive bravado that needs no curtailing.
Sounding almost like a young Eminem at times, Chris’s nasally enunciation leans heavily into the pushing-up-your-glasses archetype of a nerdlinger, but without coming across as contrived or annoying—that is, if you can tolerate a high-pitched, rapid-fire nasal delivery for three minutes. If not, MC Chris is definitely not your thing. But for those who can identify with getting in way too deep over a story about a peacetime Mandalorian, “Fett’s Vette” is the alpha and omega. (The above video shows that Kevin Smith agrees; he included it on the soundtrack for Zack And Miri Make A Porno.)