MC Frontalot is a big dork. And that's awesome. He wouldn't have it any other way. There's a certain level of charm that comes along with the Brooklyn-based "nerdcore" emcee. He is the self-proclaimed "579th greatest rapper" and his lyrics heavily revolve around modern day pop culture absurdities such as video games and Flickr. He doesn't tour much, but when does perform, he plays with a full ensemble, including keyboardist and frequent collaborator Gminor7, bassist Blak Lotus, and drummer The SturGENiUS. Other occasional band members include G.LATINusKY00B, The Categorical Imperative, Vic 20, and 56K- whatever that means. As the more or less godfather of the "nerdcore" genre, MC Frontalot has been asked to speak on many panels to address that type of music. He makes another trip to SXSW for an official 2013 showcase. Check out http://frontalot.com/index.php/ for all things nerd at his "Nerdcore Headquarters". –Kyle Eustice When did you first fall in love with hip-hop and why?  The first time I remember having a compelling curiosity about it was at the downtown YMCA's summer program, probably around third or fourth grade. There was a record player by the window and the older kids kept playing a 12-inch of Rappers Delight. I could tell he was talking about sex and Superman at the same time but my grasp of sex was pretty shaky. I didn't get obsessed with rap tapes until the beginning of high school when I got an inkling of how revolutionary it all was. I was a freshman in 1988 when Eazy Duz It came out. We gleefully shared it with each other in the yearbook office. I know that NWA was constructing a literary fiction but that world was INTENSE and if adults heard it on speakers they ABSOLUTELY wanted it turned off. Also the government was trying to shut it down, along with 2 Live Crew. Funny how the ones who end up looking like revolutionaries in the legal history have zero progressive political lyrics. Later, my friends and I were also obsessed with The Coup and Public Enemy, because bands like that actually wanted the man and the state smashed. Just the kind of attitude for teenagers to get behind. Punk rock had that too, obviously, but punk rock kids were too cool for us and plus their music sounded shitty. It did not have fresh rhymes. There were no fat beats. Punk wasn't made out of music ideas nobody’s ever heard of before though. Punk wasn't the coolest idea ever. Sorry, punk rock: Hip-hop was (and remains) where it's at! These revelations were hardly unique to me, since fall of '88 is when hip-hop is already institutional nationwide via MTV. But the answer to when I fell in love with hip-hop is: listening to 3 Feet High and Rising over and over on headphones. A family friend (Randee of the Redwoods) was in the video for Me, Myself & I, so I saved up and got the CD. Whenever the Walkman tape wore out I could make a new one. I bet a lot of people my age point to that record. I recently had a strong reaction to a scene in Neil Drumming's movie Big Words when a character points to Potholes In My Lawn as the moment it all came together.   Who or what made you decide to pick up the mic and start performing?   I didn't want to perform, I just wanted to compose raps and do them with my friends. I pretty much hid away from doing it onstage all through high school and college. I had a four track though. I really deeply wanted to make recordings that sounded cool, put a sample on a beat, get through a verse, just to see if I could do it. And I loved writing the raps. I loved writing poetry, too. Thank goodness I don't do that any more. I started putting raps on internet in 1999 because desktop multitracking software suddenly worked really well and was really cheap, plus I had control of a web server. I got a decent live act together way later, when I was 31, because the fan base had accrued enough that demand for shows existed all over. And the band and I had a big audience looming at PAX, which served (and continues to serve) as excellent motivation to keep our chops up. SXSW seems to be predominately indie band oriented. As a hip-hop artist, what do you hope to gain from your time there?   Hip-hop covers a small segment of the thousands of SXSW bands, but there are actually more rappers at SXSW than I can ever keep track of. I usually see between several and a bunch of them perform each day that the festival runs. Seeing bands is my favorite thing about going. If other musicians have a chance to see our show, I get excited. If I get to have beers with my friends from Austin and around the country, I get excited. I don't show up with any goals regarding "buzz" or "industry" though I know press and deep pocket companies are there and I always end up with a couple interviews and business meetings despite myself.    With record sales on the decline in this digital era, how important are tours now? Merch?    In strictly economic terms, tours are huge, but only because the fans are so generous at the merch table after the show. The actual money from being onstage covers transportation, lodging and promo. There's non-economic reasons to do it, too. It keeps the band alive, and I love to be onstage when a night is going well. It's great to meet and revisit the fans. The whole thing energizes my interest in making even more of these CDs.   How have you been navigating the social media waters? What have you done that has been fan favorites? I've always got my face stuck in a screen, so it's kind of natural that I blather into twitter constantly. I try to be hilarious occasionally, to make up for all the promotion of my shows, albums, videos, TV appearances, kick starters, friends' projects, blah blah blah. The thing I posted recently that got passed around was a JPEG the morning they announced they were using drones to find Christopher Dorner.  I recently discovered that "liveblogging" is not just a dumb internet word but is in fact an excellent excuse to watch even more television. It an activity that's Definitely Goofing Off and turns it into Self-Delusional Sense Of Non-Zero Productivity. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame started inducting bands in 1986. Out of the 279 performers who have been inducted, only 3 other Hip-Hop/Rapper acts have been included, most recently Public Enemy this year.  As an artist that falls into this category, how does this make an impact on you?   I don't understand exactly what the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame’s mission is, but I assume they started by focusing on "rock" to the exclusion of other pop genres like soul, folk, disco, etc, and then found that they had to broaden their scope to deal with the actual shape and history of 20th- and now 21st-century western music. Anything like a "hall of fame" or a "lifetime achievement award" is routinely adjudicated by the most conservative possible forces. I'm kind of impressed that they cobbled together the perspective necessary to induct PE. The more predictably square 3rd honoree would have been someone like MC Hammer. It would make me happy to see hip-hop recognized as being as important musically as the stuff that the baby boomers continue to hold so dear, but the whole Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame question doesn't intersect with my own career at all. I'm too much of a fringe figure to be on their radar. If, 35 years into the Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame, there's a moratorium on honoring additional subgenres with doofy-sounding names, check back with me. I'll probably have a strong opinion about that.   There is kind of a revolving door of rappers/emcees these days, what sets you apart from the pack and how will you attain longevity in such a fickle and oversaturated market? I have the privilege of being the "godfather" of a subgenre with a doofy-sounding name, and the dubious honor of finding that subgenre to be most popular among a crowd that doesn't keep up with what's trendy in hip-hop. I'll just keep making songs about things that I think are interesting, important, or absurd, and hope that other nerds keep thinking the enterprise is worth supporting. And if the rest of hip-hop ever casts more than a sidelong suspicious glance at me, I'll put that small triumph in my pocket and not worry too much if and when it fades away. By Kyle Eustice for RAPstation.com