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It is Pitch Black

By Shamus
on Saturday Aug 9, 2008
Filed under:
Nerd Culture


There is no culture that cannot be improved by nerding it up. Including rap culture. Especially rap culture. For example, you could make a rap song about Zork.

It is Pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

> What is a grue?

The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

> Play MC Frontalot.

Listening to the lyrics some more, there are references to a ton of different old-school interactive fiction games, not just Zork. I only recognize a few, but I can tell there are even more I’m missing.

Comments (39)

  1. Freaky Dug says:

    MC Frontalot is awesome, and I’m not even old enough to get half the references. Rap is so much better when they rap about interesting things instead of drugs and killing people.

  2. StingRay says:

    I really enjoy MC Frontalot’s stuff. I’ll admit that I haven’t heard a lot, but what I have heard seems to be full of both humor and intelligence. We could do with more of that combination in our culture.

  3. SubHuman says:

    OK, I was just transported back to Jr High. So many good games, the old computers, and rap before the gangsta. I enjoyed that so much I nearly giggled like a schoolgirl. No, don’t try to visualize that, it’s too scary. I must check out the rest of his stuff. The flow charts were great. I just found some of my old ones while cleaning house last year.

  4. Eric Meyer says:

    Anyone who wants more of the Front (and that should be everyone) should head over to his web site and download MP3s until there are no more left. Raps on Lord of the Rings, mechs, cryptography, and more. I loves me some Front. I think you’ll particularly like “Secrets From the Future”, Seamus, given your attitudes on the futility of DRM and other protection schemes.

  5. DGM says:

    My God. It’s like the Weird Al Yankovic of the hip hop world.

    And I will be deeply shocked if I am the first to make that comparison.

  6. Kevin says:

    Rather than seeing no culture that cannot be improved by nerding it up, I see that there is no culture that cannot be damaged by rap. I did watch the whole thing, because I didn’t feel it was fair to make fun without having seen the whole thing, and while the bobble head dance was amusing, and I did laugh when I saw all the floating “maps” just like the ones we all used to make playing those games. I found the whole thing incomprehensible and irritating.

    No,no,no. Wait a minute. I’m thinking about Zork. The music was fine.

  7. hevis says:

    Next thing I want to see is some trash metal with lyrics from Star Trek.

  8. Alexis says:

    What a blatant plugh!

  9. Amadan says:

    I really like Frontalot. In general I find nerdcore rap to be one of the more refreshing new-ish genres around.

    If you liked his stuff and haven’t heard The Lord of the Rhymes yet, go check it out… http://www.lordsoftherhymes.com/

  10. Factoid says:

    Re: other games referenced, I caught somethign in there about dropships and piloting robots, which should be a reference to robotech/mechwarrior.

  11. LazerFX says:


    Genius, just genius ;) And Frontalot is awesome :P

  12. acabaca says:

    It’s nice to see a tribute to the text adventures, my favorite deceased genre. I just wish it was better than this.

  13. RedClyde says:

    I want to like it… but I don’t find the music itself pleasing to the ears.

  14. JFargo says:

    Thank you for introducing me to MC Frontalot’s music. I’m not a fan of rap, but this got me chuckling, so I’m sure to go check out everything else he has.

  15. Chaz says:

    Jason Scott did the video, and he always has a lot to say for himself. This Post is a good starting point.

  16. R4byde says:

    While the lyrics were somewhat entertaining, the music itself suffers from the same condition as all rap, it fruckin’ hard to understand! And not that enjoyable to listen to. What ever happened to good old rock ‘n’ roll?

  17. XaleD says:

    The lyric, as given by Front’s site:

    It Is Pitch Dark

    You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
    If this predicament seems particularly cruel,
    consider whose fault it could be:
    not a torch or a match in your inventory.

    It got narrated at you in the second person.
    Every time you booted up, it seemed you got another version
    of your life told to you by a status line blinking,
    the impossible people you could be without thinking
    yourself insane of personality problems,
    with a mop on a drop ship or trying to stab a goblin.
    That don't play in public life. You get arrested,
    psychoactive medication daily in your big intestine
    and attesting that the voices in your head
    said the dwarf shot first, embedded arrow then you bled.
    But doctors with needles posit repeatedly
    that you knocked down that midget in the park unneededly.
    This has seeded the idea that you should
    never venture from the house, never get misunderstood
    by the non-player characters inhabiting Earth,
    none of whom are too concerned about Nord & Bert,
    not one of whom ever aimed a fish around the room,
    trying to get it in the ear canal because doom
    beset the last planet they were on, or near
    the verge of a set of poetics they wouldn't hear.
    Never peered at the clues with invisible ink.
    No SM goddesses ever gave them pause to think.
    Never piloted six robots, each distinct.
    Don't matter how many 2-liters they drink,
    they're not gonna follow what you're saying at all.
    They impugn and appall in the scope of their gall,
    as you hide in your room in disgust with the lights turned out.
    Turn “˜em on in a turn. Leave “˜em off for now.

    You read a pamphlet from a mailbox that urges low cunning,
    offers cursor and prompt: type >run and you're running,
    and parses what you tell it, pronouns intact,
    abbreviations if you need “˜em (better keep it gramat.).
    Better punctuate your sentences and never redact
    the name of anything ambiguous. You're about to get asked,
    do you mean the red one, the round one, the crooked, or the blue?
    Better keep that in your pocket, don't know yet what it could do.
    Could be the spray for the grue; you're gonna need it if it is “”
    a situation that reloads, restarts, or quits.
    Wonder how many points out of how many points
    you've got to get before you're done. Endeavor then to rejoice,
    when you wish more ardently, identities shed,
    for continuance, the rhyme forever voyaging. Fled
    from all lights and colors, from all smells and sound:
    just the lyric on the monochrome display and you're proud
    to make another verse appear by solving riddles.
    If you didn't have to sleep, you know you'd never seek acquittal.
    You'd be ever in the middle and the midst of quest.
    If it weren't for >don the gown. you'd never get dressed.
    In your underwear typing, just like Front,
    keyboard attached up to my fingers “” wrists bear the brunt “”
    as I seek to do stunts simply through their descriptions.
    I think I went once to some sands that were Egyptian.
    And I retain plane tickets, snapshots, receipts,
    yet I stand unconvinced that this has happened to me.
    I wouldn't want to misremember or get confused.
    Recall of crawling towards a pyramid appearing over dunes.
    Recall of entering the thing and descending stairs.
    Does it descend from there, adventure to nightmare?
    Did I battle a snake? Was the treasure intact?
    Or did the TRS-80 in my brain get hacked?
    Thanks, Grampa, for buying it. Now my life's ruined.
    Twenty-two years later, head's infested: got the grue in.
    PLUGHing, XYZZYfying, trying to escape,
    but I can't “˜cause I'm up and around and awake.

  18. scum says:

    Zork, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos started my long life of neglecting to finish a game. :)

    Love it, thanks Shamus.

  19. Steve says:


    “with a mop on a dropship” = Planetfall.

    “Never piloted six robots, each distinct.” = Suspended.

    Other references are to Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It (“Nord & Bert”), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (“aimed a fish around the room, trying to get it in the ear canal because doom beset the last planet they were on, or near the verge of a set of poetics they wouldn't hear”), Leather Goddesses of Phobos (“SM goddesses”), Infidel (“Recall of crawling towards a pyramid appearing over dunes. Recall of entering the thing and descending stairs.”), and probably others. You can read about all those games here, or look them up on Wikipedia. There are lots of more general IF references that don’t refer to a single game, too. It’s a great song.

  20. Craig says:

    Meh, I like the idea of nerdcore, but I haven’t heard anything I actually appreciate yet, musically. Mind you, I do like some rap.

  21. krellen says:

    I will confirm that every single reference in that song is to one of Infocom’s text adventures. I own the complete set, and I recognise them all as being from one of their games.

  22. Chuk says:

    Had that (but only that — haven’t checked out anything else except his Penny Arcade theme) on the MP3 player for a while. Tons of references to lots of games is right — Space Quest, Nord and Bert, Hithchiker’s Guide (the fish part), another Infocom one with the robots, Leather Goddesses of Phobos…very cool.

  23. WoodenTable says:

    Interesting. Hard to understand, though. I couldn’t really catch much other than “You are likely to be eaten by a grue”.

    I think I prefer LoadingReadyRun’s nerdy rap stuff, though it’s a few years old at this point. They’re easier to understand the words to. 1337 and Those Games We Played are pretty catchy, in my opinion. I just wish they hadn’t stopped making them for some reason.

  24. Nilus says:

    Love the song. I am holding out hope that someone goes out and compiles the old Infocom games to run on an iPhone.

    It makes me feel old when I here someone say they are to young to know all these references.

  25. edcalaban says:

    @Shamus: For showing me this you are my Five Minute Hero.

    @Eric Meyer: Thanks for that link.

  26. Nano says:

    Why is the youtube player purple at the bottom?

  27. Murphy says:

    @WoodenTable: Most of Front’s music is much more lyrically comprehensible; youtube’s sound quality is completely indefensible. Give his other songs a listen, assuming you haven’t.

  28. Smiffus says:

    the original Colossal Cave Adventure is in there as well

  29. Macguffin says:

    If people have a chance to see it, I highly, highly recommend the movie Nerdcore Rising.

    The film follows MC Frontalot on their first tour, which takes them across the USA. It’s a fantastic look at what it is to be a nerd, geek, or whatever you want to call it – as well as what it takes to quit your job and go touring around the country when you have no idea if anyone will show up.

    I got to see it at an indie film festival in Boston a few months ago, and it was pretty terrific. You put in your $.02 via the website on where you’d like to see it.

  30. Ferrari says:

    Frontalot is the shiznit, or whatever the kids say these days. Seriously though, Nerdcore Rising is a fun flick. I got to meet Front and the director at SXSW when they presented the film this year, and interviewed the two of them. Terrific people, great to talk to.

  31. Derek K says:

    @Nilus: Many infocom games are available via online flash games. So you can kinda play them on your iPhone already….

    @Ferrari: Yeah yeah yeah. “I met everyone and their dog at SXSW”.

  32. krellen says:


    The reference you think is to Space Quest actually isn’t. It’s a reference to Planetfall, another one of Infocom’s text adventure games.

  33. Ferrari says:


    Quit hating, there aren’t many places I can namedrop with Frontalot where people will actually appreciate it :-).

  34. Derek K says:

    Why is it Nerdcore and not Geekcore, though?

    Most geeks I know make a Nerd/Geek distinction, and he seems far more on the geek side than the nerd side….

    Is just cause Nerdcore and Hardcore share more letters?

  35. NobleBear says:

    I like Front and also these guys

    Optimus Rhyme Obey the Moderator
    MC Lars Ahab
    MC Chris Fett’s Vette

    And someones got me checking out YTCracker

  36. John Alexander says:

    @ Derek K:

    Nerdcore rolls off the tongue better than Geekcore.

    To be more specefic, if you want to say Geekcore, you would either pronounce it ‘Geek-Core’, necessitating a jerky pause, or ‘Gee-Core’, dropping the ‘k’ and losing some of the impact.

    Also, the distinction between geek and nerd is pretty much only used by geeks and nerds, and is mostly non-existent.

  37. Heph says:

    Different kind of nerds, also nice rap:
    (it’s about the HADRON collider)

  38. TalrogSmash says:

    Does anybody remember MC Hawking? I liked the entropy rap the most, give it a google.

  39. Jason Scott says:

    Glad people enjoyed it!

    – The Director

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