Getting Down with Moses: The Faulknerds Fight
by Hillary Hardcore
So, I gotta admit it. I'm a geek. Now, I'm a hardcore geek
and you best believe I'll greet you with a nine to the face if you if
say otherwise. I'll knock you down faster than Britney Spears can chug
a vodka and Red Bull. For reals, yo.
A lotta shit crosses my mailbox cuz everyone wants Hillary Hardcore
to give them a listen. Everyone wants Hillary to say they're the shit.
The latest folks to get my ear are a group from Natchez, Mississippi
called The Faulknerds, made up of one chick, Kay D. Would-LAN, and three
guys: Ben G, Joe Kwanzaa and Rollin' Smoke.
Ben G poses outside the fence of the Beau Pre'
Country Club, Natchez, Mississippi. (Luster is behind the camera.
He's the roadie.)
I first heard them years ago when I got their cassingle "The Smell
of Lemon Verdana / Yarn Yearning." This was back when southern
rap was all about OutKast and The Geto Boys -- funky and offbeat. The
Faulknerds' focus at the time, fonts and lusty knitters, fit in with
the first baby steps of nerdcore rap and seemed to fit their goals as
it was printed in 6 point Verdana (what else?) on the back of their
cassingle: "to distract us while getting our theses on Faulkner
done and, oh yeah, maybe score with a cute sophistichick or two."
Eventually, the Faulknerds found a small following, even beyond the
two sophistichicks (both not incidentally lusty knitters) Joe Kwanzaa
would eventually lay. (Go Joe!) Their talent was always bigger than
lil' old Natchez. They spread their music through underground tapes
and CDs, oddly rejecting the Internet unlike so many other nerdcore
trailblazers. Instead, they relied on gimmicks that garnered them plenty
of local press coverage. One of their publicity stunts was to travel
up the Natchez Trace Parkway in their art car, a VW bug decorated with
corks from wine bottles, distributing free cassingles the whole way
to everyone under 25 they met along the way. They met a producer in
Nashville who, of course, thought their music could be greatly improved
if they'd just change their image and add a steel guitar. Oh, and Kay
D. Would-LAN should lose 20 pounds and wear more leopard print, but
Rollin' Smoke had been telling her that for years.
Rollin' Smoke and Kay D. Would-LAN
Their biggest marketing stunt was a robocall (Kay D. Would-LAN was
dating the president of the Ole Miss College Republicans at the time,
who thought she looked just fine out of leopard print) to all
residents of Oxford, Mississippi -- including the students of Ole Miss
-- the week before finals. People who picked up their phone were greeted
by the voice of William Faulkner himself as the Faulknerds' best song,
"Straight Outta Compson," began.
"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear
so long sustained by now that we can even hear it. There are no longer
problems of the spirit. There is only one question. When will I be
Straight outta Compson --
Crazy muthafucka named Ben G
From the geeksta group called the Faulknerds
When I see thems golf, I get my rocks off,
Moan like a whore and Luster begins to scoff . . .
One call was placed to the South Shall Rise Again Society Headquarters
(SSRA), located in a fancy-schmancy old plantation on the outskirts
of town. The SSRA have had a beef with William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor,
Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams for years. Even though these authors
have brought more fame and notoriety to the South than all SSRA members
combined, the SSRA still hates them for "depicting the mighty South
as a dying beast instead of an awakening giant."
One member, a feisty chick about 4'11" and going by the name of
PYT Beauregard, even started a nerdcore beef with the Faulknerds, performing
"(I'm a Lady, But I Gotta Say) F. Compson" on Peachtree Cable
Access' Hotlanta Hootenanny in August 2007. (For the record,
the "lady" just said "F" too. She's a walking radio
edit. The FCC might love her, but she's really not very much fun.) The
Faulknerds followed up with "2,400 Square Miles and Growing,"
a boastful rap about Yoknapatawpha County filling up with Oprah devotees.
Hell hath no fury like a geek fight. You can almost hear them leveling
up. Oh wait, you can hear them leveling up - "2,400 Square Miles
and Growing" contains samples from Super Mario Bros. PYT
Beauregard relies on pulling her samples exclusively from the Bill Gaither
Trio and Uncle Dave Macon. Needless to say, her self-imposed exclusivity
has also limited her fan base.
Joe Kwanzaa, chick magnet.
Most nerdcore fans have sided with the Faulknerds in this geeksta beef
-- with good reason. PYT Beauregard is a one-hit wonder, if you can
call her efforts a "hit" since there is no chart for nerdcore,
of course. It's hard to rank the listening habits of about 5000 people
who don't leave their basement except to buy more Mountain Dew. But
the Faulknerds have released a reel-to-reel(!) called The Portable
Faulknerd featuring their best and latest works, including "Straight
Outta Compson," "Zapruder in the Dust," "Sanctionary,"
"Requiem for a Gun" and "The Sound of Flurries."
My favorite is "As I Lay Di & King," a crass "what
if" about bedding one's dead heroes. (I was lucky enough to score
one of the 25 limited edition 78rpm vinyl pressings. Thanks, Joe!)
Now that the last of the Faulknerds is set to get his master's degree
in English literature from Sewanee, the future of the Faulknerds is
unclear. Like Dilsey, will they endure? Or will they, like the Compsons
they rap about, just implode?