Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Pan-African Studies

Committee Chair

Jones, Ricky L.

Author's Keywords

Whiteness; Hip hop; Masculinity; Nerdcore


Hip hop; Rap (Music); Alternative rock music; Geeks (Computer enthusiasts); Indie culture


In his documentary entitled, Nerdcore For Life, director Dan Lamoureux described Nerdcore as a "powerful social collision between hip hop and geek culture". Born on the Internet, Nerdcore Hip-Hop is rap music made by geeks, for geeks and covers such traditionally "nerdy" topics such as comic books, video games, science fiction, anime, technology, etc. Though it has existed online for almost a decade, only recently has Nerdcore gone from being an Internet fad to an underground cultural phenomenon. This paper investigated how hegemonic constructions of race and gender within both the dominant public sphere and hip-hop culture are subverted and reinvented within Nerdcore counterculture. The "birth" narrative of the Nerdcore movement, as depicted in film documentaries Nerdcore For Life and Nerdcore Rising, provides a public platform for self-proclaimed nerds to assert cultural power and agency through hip hop music—even while the performance of white, nerdy masculinity, made all the more nerdy by contrast with mainstream hip hop's machismo, subverts that power. The Nerdcore genre has created a transgressive space within the underground hip-hop movement in which marginalized geek culture can claim ownership of an identity alternative to mainstream expectations of gender and race. The content of Nerdcore differentiates itself from mainstream hip-hop by speaking to the heart of "geek" culture, but also utilizes hip-hop's ability to express the oppressed experiences of today's youth. Nerdcore challenges the traditional misogynistic, hyper-masculine mainstream construction associated with both white and black masculinities, and offers a safe space in which to perform alternative masculinities. Nerdcore artists offer a unique new strategy for achieving authenticity as white performers in hip-hop counterculture-a conscious subversion. The geek identity presented by Nerdcore does not attempt to recreate gender and racial stereotypes visible in hip-hop nor does it parody hip-hop culture. Nerdcore performers have developed a space to offer a conscious narrative of subversion for alternative identity performances in hip-hop music.