It's not easy to balance hip-hop artistry with a faithful summary of Doctor Who, but More or Les manages to make it happen.
Nerd rap is a hard thing to do successfully. While nerdcore is a well-established—albeit micro-niche—sub-genre, it generally doesn’t get a lot of traction in the broader world.
On his new release, Bigger on the Inside: A Time Traveller’s Mixtape, local rap-scene stalwart More or Les has made a very detailed, very deep-knowledge mixtape about Doctor Who, the British TV show that not-coincidentally celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. This is the nerdiest mixtape imaginable, and folks who don’t have a strong familiarity with the Whoniverse will probably miss most of the references. Underneath it all, though, the music works. The rhymes are intricate and multi-layered, the metaphors are sharp, and the beats, many of which sample Doctor Who, are solid.
The title track and “Magic Blue Box” are both excellent examples of rap-as-storytelling. (The title track in particular manages to summarize 50 years of television in a little over three minutes.) “Travel Companions” is a five-minute-long, chorusless song about all the Doctor’s sidekicks. Take a second to think about all the ways that could go wrong. Amazingly, Les beats the odds and makes it riveting, courtesy of his internal rhyme schemes and elastic delivery. He crams too many words into one bar, then stretches his syllables on the next.
The production highlight of the tape is the title track, which samples the show’s classic theme song, then chops it up over snappy 808 drums. (You can listen to “Bigger on the Inside” by clicking on the sample above.)
Bigger on the Inside probably isn’t going to turn very many hip-hop heads into Who fans (although you never know), but it’s proof positive that rappers can nerd out without lapsing into self-parody.