REVIEW: Enter The Realm Of Nerdcore In Mark Cooper’s “I Am Player 1”.
Entering unfamiliar territory I set out to embark on the musical game experience that is “I Am Player 1” with my track by track review of Mark Cooper’s nerd core styled album.
01. Nerdcore – A silky sounding introduction that stages Mark Cooper in front of a virtual reality video game called “Nerdcore” moments before pressing start. It quick & fitting and sparks an interesting set up to “I Am Player 1”.
02. Tutorials – “Hmm… So this is Nerdcore” here we go, we’re the past the intro & the album is painting the video game landscape in perfect metaphorical form. Of coarse after pressing start logically some tutorials about to get thrown at you next, correct? Mark Cooper ends his verse with the words “mind blown” an encore to his hard hitting opening verse of the project before claiming he still has “the hang of it”. The rest of tutorials brings Pokemon & Zelda references ending in theatric style as you choose to be “Player 1”.
03. Player One – The strings sorta synth sounding opening before the power chorus grabs your ears. If this is virtual reality in lyrical form Cooper has finessed it with bars layered on top a punchy production that had me reminiscent of some late 90’s Dr. Dre slash Warren G type records. This song hits heavy & continues the travels within Nerdcore. Oh, and an Animaniac’s reference. Bringing back the childhood memories as I listen on.
04. Transformers ft. Finale & Mic Jack – Our first collaborative effort brings the likes of Finale & Mic Jack joining along in a triple threat of real rap. As stated you might need to “kick back, rewind this verse”….I have a feeling four tracks in that most listeners & hip hop fans in general would find themselves rewinding this willingly. Another banger.
05. Sabrina the A.I. – Welcome to your artificial intelligence assistance in this skit backed by some ominous piano that creates a sonic build up of intensity all well mixing bits of humor inside the conversation between Mark Cooper & Sabrina the A.I. The production value plays out like a movie and sets the stage for the path towards the all spark required to win.
06. Nick tunes ft. L.Y. – Not familiar with L.Y. before this particular record but definitely intrigued from it & from the opening Mark Cooper tag the producer & rapper showcases what I assume is his own production. The two provide quite the combo & the 90’s kid cartoon references don’t stop with a bar for bar Nickelodeon marathon of lyrical delivery at its finest. He’s not Doug Funny. He’s Mark Cooper!!!
07. Boomerang ft. Crimson Alchemist – To me this came off as the most video game centric sound so far yet tied into some classic boom bap drums. Crimson Alchemist!!! This verse had me rewinding like previously mentioned – & the classic yet simple hook that ties the two rappers verses together just fits. Hard to pick a favorite record amongst the consistency this project has provided but this is one of the shining moments for me.
08. Star Power ft. Monsoon – I related to this one here…Cooper states “but I’m a nerd I’m not compatible with a whole bunch of people..”. Growing up a bit of a recluse myself I played my share of video games when I wasn’t writing for days. This record is less hard hitting as the in your face type sound of previous & brings a more mellow vibe following what have been more intense records. About midway through it adds a welcomed element & continues our trip through the virtual reality realm.
09. Gamer 4 Life – Metroid & Blastoise! Yoshi! Elder Scrolls! Megaman! Halo!….I could go on but Gamer 4 Life speaks as an anthem for all gamers in this lyrical listing of some of the finest video games of all time. “Negative’s in your hard drive, take em out your archive” – one my fave lines on the album – this song made me proud to say I play video games! LOL For real though my best description if this is it’s the perfect gamers anthem.
10. Mortal Combat High ft. Starbomb – Catchy, catchy, right of the bat is what grabbed my attention span in whom I assume is Starbomb lending vocals for the chorus that’ll have the words “Mortal Combat High” stuck in my head. Another standout record for me – the chorus grabs you and as has been evident verse after verse Mark Cooper knows who he is as an emcee & establishes certainly to be an expert in #Nerdcore.
11. Marvelous – HEAVY ROTATION. Eleven tracks into “I Am Player 1” & “Marvelous” honestly feels like a pretty fitting term for what I’ve heard. It’s not often I have to search for my least favorite record. It’s especially hard when their isn’t one. The descriptive writing abilities of Mark Cooper and his knack for creating bars that tell a story is continually evident.
12. Rainbow Road – Speaking of stories is one of the most creative songs I’ve heard in a hot minute, not to mention this album itself. In an ode to what the song title would lead me to believe is Mario Kart plays out as what feels like the most personal and deep record on “I Am Player 1”. I sensed as if I was listening to some sorta battle between playing video games & pursuing the passions of life? I may be totally wrong though, the song sounds like a relationship under the examination of a microscope…Regardless this song packs replay value & as the closer before the outro helps close down one extremely solid listening session worth of hip hop.
13. Major Upset – Game over? well…..I can’t tell you that much! You’re gonna have to listen to “I Am Player One” to uncover that answer……
In closing “I Am Player 1” is cohesive, sonically sound, & packed with heavy hitting verses. Guest appearances that fit, add value, & come together to form fantastic collaborations. I’ll be honest my only complaint about this project is that I didn’t hear it in full earlier. Outside of mc chris I’m not personally very familiar with the sub genre of hip hop #Nerdcore. However one thing certainly is sure to me after listening to this album. That thing is that this may not be for everybody but regardless of your nerdy traits or not this is some true to form hip hop that I believe any true fan of lyricism can appreciate. A movie like buildup of skits & Mark Cooper’s bar frenzy of verses all come together in what has amounted to one of my favorite listens of the year.
COMMi$$ION’S RATING: 9/10