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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hip-Hop + Comic Books = Adam WarRock, Who Got Human Sunday in Berkeley

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Pop-culture emcee Adam WarRock
  • Pop-culture emcee Adam WarRock

Adam WarRock, dubbed the Internet's foremost comic book rapper, rolled through Berkeley's 924 Gilman on Sunday to promote his second full-length album You Dare Call That Thing Human?!?, which released the week prior. Co-headlining with indie nerd rockers Kirby Krackle and local openers who sang acoustic ditties about Pokemon and life post-zombie apocalypse, WarRock's set was surprisingly intimate for a hip hop performance -- due to Gilman's sparse surroundings and a Sunday evening show which started in broad daylight -- yet undeniably spirited. 

WarRock -- neé Eugene Ahn, a Korean American attorney who quit his day job to pursue music of a distinctly comic, geek and pop-culture focus -- took the stage as a man with a MacBook, a sometimes wobbly mic stand, and enough humor, charisma, and flow to make you forget that a sullen 14-year-old had taken your money at the door or that some members of the audience were seated in folding chairs in front of the stage. There was clearly no Watch the Throne budget, and it brought a sense of spunk and scrappiness to a set that included an ode to Parks and Recreation's Ron Swanson set to a Wocka Flocka Flame beat, the love song "June" that borrows its track from Justin Bieber's "Baby," and his dual nod to Image Comics and to his own personal struggles "I Kill Giants" from his most recent album.

You Dare Call That Thing Human?!? showcases WarRock's signature delivery -- clear, resolute, and with a palpable level of intensity -- with a mix of tracks that toggle between beat-heavy to more subdued and melody-driven. "Retcon" loops an aggressive piano riff reminiscent of Tupac's "Ambitionz Az A Ridah" while "Snows of Kiliminjaro" (featuring nerdcore legend MC Lars) could easily be a J Dilla or Statik Selectah instrumental. The songs' subject matter includes life as an Asian American growing up in a predominantly black/white American South in "Civil War"; haters in the comic rap scene in "The Kids Table" (featuring Doctor Awkward); and the lady-pleasing "Sensitive Side" about a nice guy who cries at movies, listens to daddy issues, and graciously accepts offers of a platonic relationship.

For hip-hop fans skeptical of getting down to songs that reference Thor's homeland Asgard and the Cerebro device from X-Men [writer's note: I would like to thank my comic-reading loved ones and Wikipedia for their assistance in writing this post], fear not. WarRock has the unique ability to blend the geekery in seamlessly: If you don't know the reference, you're not left confused. Hip-hop heads and comics connoisseurs alike will have at least one aspect of his music to carry them through. And for those who fall in the center of that rap/geek Venn diagram, damn it, you're in luck.

You Dare Call That Thing Human?!? is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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Sylvie Kim


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