A simple equation
The Dewey Decibel System is the first collaborative album from underground rappers MC Lars and Mega Ran. Superstars in the underground nerdcore rap scene, both rappers have collaborated often throughout their careers.
Nerdcore rap is an underground subgenre of hip-hop that is defined differently depending on who you talk to. A baseline understanding of nerdcore would imply that any rapper who is also a nerd and raps about stereotypically nerdy topics would be a nerdcore artist. Others believe that nerdcore rappers are self-defined as such or are commonly accepted as nerdcore artists within the community. The term was coined in 2000 by MC Frontalot, who set the tone for the subgenre by releasing DIY music predominantly online for free. The DIY theme has continued to be a pillar of the nerdcore rap scene, as most nerdcore rappers produce, record and release their music independently. While MC Lars and Mega Ran have not wholly followed the Nerdcore DIY trend as they have both collaborated with producers and labels, they have become solidified stars within the community.
The Dewey Decibel System is a nerdcore rap album at its crux. MC Lars and Mega Ran draw inspiration from their favorite poems, books, movies, TV shows, short stories and video games on the album. Many of the songs on The Dewey Decibel System are named after characters in stories, famous historical figures and authors. Sonically, the album draws inspiration from many different sources. Punk rock’s gritty electric guitar leads, trap hi-hats, boom-bap drum patterns, and funky electric bass lines can all be found on this album, often intersecting and building off of one another on the same songs. The song “1984” for example, uses grimy guitar leads and heavy drums, rising and shrinking in accordance with the verses and chorus. The song “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a high point on the album. Mega Ran and MC Lars take clear inspiration from Run the Jewels duo Killer Mike and El-P on this track, particularly with the distorted bass lead and flows on their verses.
Mega Ran and MC Lars have undeniable chemistry in many of the tracks: often rapping back and forth to each other and having conversations throughout the songs. The rapping itself on the album is not very complicated. The flows often feel uninspired and overly-simple, rarely displaying much creativity in their cadences. The songs often feel like songs that a teacher would play for their middle school class to seem “cool” and “modern.” The song “Walden” and its accompanying music video in particular, displays Mega Ran and MC Lars rapping about Walden Pond and Henry David Thoreau in such a solemn, serious manner that it’s almost impossible not to assume that the intentions of the song were to be a sketch comedy or part of a high school class’s English curriculum. The lyrics are overly simplified, and both rappers stumble over the words, instead of relying on each of their fairly unique voices to carry each verse. While the flows do not vary much, both rappers show evident prowess in their ability to alternate bars and verses. Their voices are complementary to one another, so their back-and-forth lines are often dynamic and energizing.
All in all, The Dewey Decibel System is an album made for Nerdcore rap fans but will likely struggle to find success outside of the niche subgenre.