Listen to Adam WarRock’s ‘This Man… This Emcee’ Comics Rap Album
We've covered rapper Adam WarRock and his comics-themed rhymes many times before on ComicsAlliance, and with good reason. He's talented, with the kind of wordplay and cleverness that makes rap such a fantastic genre of music, and has great taste in beats. While it's easy to tag him as nerdcore, his music actually goes a lot deeper than what you see on the surface. He knows his rap history, from lyrics to beats, and it informs his style on the mic.
He's just released This Man... This Emcee!, an EP featuring beats by Dale Chase and cover art by Doc Shaner. We have a stream of the album, our thoughts on the release, and a few words with WarRock to share with you.
The closest comics equivalent is when creators put their own spin on a character or iconic moment, and WarRock is a guy who knows how to do it without being grating or even particularly obvious. Sometimes half a line will stick in your head and make you wonder if that was a reference or just a similar construction. That ability to smoothly reference rap history is just one aspect of his skill, though, and This Man... does a great job of showing off the rest of his talent.
WarRock goes in over some pretty varied beats by Dale Chase, working in as many comics references as possible while still creating songs with a point. Maybe they're about being a nerd, or trying to live up to someone else's expectations, or just explaining where he's coming from. No matter what they're about, they're good.
You can grab WarRock's album from his Bandcamp page for five entire dollars. That's a steal, really. It's also available on both AmazonMP3 and iTunes, but the Bandcamp version has a couple of bonuses for him and for us. First, he probably makes more money off the Bandcamp version, and as an indie artist whose work I enjoy, I urge everyone to put as much money into his pockets as possible. For us, though, we get the exclusive remix of "Fantomex" by DJ Empirical.
Trust me: buy the album.
We reached out to WarRock to get a few minor questions answered, and he more than came through with his responses. Check it out:
ComicsAlliance: Who's the biggest influence on your art? It can be a musician, a writer, a poet, or whoever. Who do you think of as having influenced your approach to art?
Adam WarRock: Musically, you can probably point to a bunch of places. Groups like Wu-Tang, Black Star, Company Flow, Sage Francis, Atmosphere, even guys like Ras Kass and Public Enemy, all informed the hip hop side when I was ending high school or starting college. From a geeky side, Jonathan Coulton was a gigantic influence on me, I think his music was the first time I realized that a song that was inherently geeky or nerdy could still have some real emotional resonance. It made me change the way I looked at a nerdy topic, in order to turn it into something more emotionally affecting or meaningful; it made me try harder, rather than just write a name-drop song, or go for the low hanging fruit.
Overall, I don't think you can point to one thing. I remember going to a hip hop festival at Oberlin College in 2000, seeing all these amazing acts: Dead Prez, Planet Asia, Arsonists, Saul Williams, Common, Reflection Eternal, for three straight days. And while those were amazing, it was the freestyle ciphers and poetry slams by these nameless local cats that had the biggest impact on me. I remember seeing them, and most notably seeing how the crowd reacted TO them that made me say, "Yeah. THAT's what I want to do." I went home and started writing, and haven't stopped since.
Comics-wise, and this is something I've never really talked much about, Mike Mignola has been a gigantic influence on me, seeing as Hellboy was the comic that got me back into comics after I had strayed away from them for several years. I was studying during grad school at a Borders, and was just drawn to the art. Once I started reading them, I was totally sucked into the story. Me and the Let's Be Friends Again guys had a table at ECCC that was literally diagonally across from Mignola's corner table, and I was too intimidated to go up and meet him, because of how much I owe his art style and comic. It's my dream to have a Mignola drawn cover for an album or single. Someday, someday.
CA: Are you checking for any comics right now? Do you have any favorites that have stuck with you since childhood?
AW: Other than The Infinity Gauntlet, which is of course a gigantic favorite of mine since childhood, I'd have to say that I grew up in the '90s and most of those team books stick with me: Guardians of the Galaxy, New Warriors, pre-X-Force New Mutants, and X-Factor specifically out of all those X-teams. It's probably why I love books like Avengers Academy, and Young Allies, they remind me the most of those kinds of emotional storylines that those '90s team books had about kids just not fitting in.
Other than that, my take on comics is usually pretty sporadic. I just read Paul Jenkins' Inhumans, and that kinda blew my mind. I try to regularly read books like Chew, The Sixth Gun, the aforementioned Avengers Academy. And then I tend to just grab books here and there, take a wide spray approach. And then every once in a while, I'll reread those old '90s X books or something like Sleepwalker just to remind me why I love and hate the '90s.
CA: Favorite comic-related rap reference/punchline, preferably not your own?
AW: Is there really any competition for The Last Emperor's "Secret Wars"? That whole song is basically a comic book related punchline (true story: that's where I got the inspiration to do "Heroes Requiem" off of War For Infinity. If you don't believe me, every hero and team that I mentioned in that song is the exact list of superheroes and teams that Last Emp used in "Secret Wars Pt. 1"). Other than that, I'm sure there's an Xzibit lyric from his early days saying "X-Man," but I honestly can't think of one, strangely. I think the lack of hearing comics and geeky stuff in the hip hop I loved was probably what led me to make the music I do make. There, that's a good self-serving answer.