In every aspect of life, there are determined individuals who are always climbing to reach the top, always working to improve their craft, always working to show everybody around them what they can really do. If there was one determined individual who fit the definition to the letter T, it’d be Mark Cooper whose entire career is defined by making good music and proving himself to his peers time and time over.
His story is basically inspiration in a can. Before being involved in nerdcore, he was basically an individual standing on a fork in the road between embracing the nerd culture or embracing his own blackness. As he got into rap as an underdog named R31GN, he learned how to do everything by himself from album to album all the while improving his craft and finding his identity that separates himself out from the rest of the crowd.
Though it took a long time to find himself, his story shows that even though there are struggles and tribulations that are to be faced, through hard work and dedication, you can find happiness yourself. For Mark Cooper, that happiness was to find his grounding and self-respect for himself as a self-professed nerd.
As a nerdcore rapper, he is multifaceted with his skillset. Though not as popular as his peers, he knows how to produce modern sounding beats from the most unexpected of sources, he has a distinctive rap flow that morphs to fit whatever style and flair the beat has, he knows how to create albums that have a concept and story behind them and he’s even a nice guy who’s willing to support you when times get hard.
As a person, well there is a lot to know about him that we haven’t known about yet. If you’re wondering what makes him Mark Cooper… well, read what the man has to say below.
Nodball: First off, I’d just like to say you’re a unique individual. You are the embodiment that dreams are made of, you are an inspiration to those who want to control their own destiny. What inspires me the most is your determination to keep climbing and evolving, how did you get started with your career? What inspired you to become a rapper?
Mark Cooper: Well, i’m started my rap career back in highschool in 2004; at the time of course I wasn’t the best but I stuck with it. I originally got my inspiration from music when i got my keyboard for my 14th birthday. I always loved music but didn’t have the experience nor lessons to start with so it was just pushing the keys and involuntarily learned by ear. What inspired me to become a rapper was to be able to express myself in a positive way. I listened to a wide range of artists like lupe, cassidy, royce da 59, eminem and bone thug n harmony to name a few.
N: On your albums, you produce, write, record and plan everything? How did you develop that ability of yours?
MC: As for my projects I would say I’ve made about 95% of the music you hear today, I develop that ability by simply not knowing or having the resources to be able to reach out to avenues such as beats, studio time etc. I would say i’m living proof of the phrase “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself” So that logic i would say single handedly moved the machine of the music I create.
N: I see you have a quadrilogy of albums where you talk about your journey through nerdcore and your evolution as a person. I have to know, how hard was it to climb the nerdcore ranks and how hard was it to discover who you truly were?
MC: Well when it comes to nerdcore it’s not always about the climb it’s the journey. The Main goal is to always remain humble and love the music you create. I would say it is difficult because since nerdcore is such a particular type of genre with a niche topic,it can be difficult to translate those fandoms and fuse your own individuality in the same process. It gets easier once you truly embrace your love for the music you create vs trying to make a certain type of music just because you want to be different.
N: Are you satisfied with who you are now or do you still feel like discovering who you are?
MC: I would say i’m satisfied with the way i am so far. I know there are many things and obstacles i must conquer but music alone has made a canvas for me to paint a personal picture for how i reveal myself.
N: I’ve heard your plight as an african-american nerd through the “Sucess and Failure” and your struggle to find acceptance between both groups. How hard was it to convince your peers that you were the real deal in terms of both being black and a nerd?
MC: To be honest it can be extremely hard. The reason being is because as an african american it can be very troublesome in society today. From stereotypes and racial profiling, society can be very cruel and hurtful. Nerds already have it hard in social gathering and in life in general. Tackling both is definitely a challenge in all angles. You always have to be strong even when you can’t lift the weight that society puts you in.
N: And in the quadrilogy you have an overarching story where you’re basically fighting to gain recognition in the nerdcore community. Does that story and/or metaphor relate to your life in any way?
MC: Absolutely! So for the projects I express exactly what I feel about the “box” that the industry puts us in called Nerdcore and I wanted to tell the story in a way where people can have an inside peek of what artists in this lane go through.
N: As a beatmaker, you sample tons of unusual material ranging from TV commercials to the Cheers theme. I have to know, where do you usually find your inspiration to make said beats?
MC: Well my inspiration is that i’m a nostalgic nerd. I love reminiscing about all the things I grew up with. You can say it’s the source of my “power”. I love it so much! Always will make me feel young and appreciative of what i’ve been and lived through.
N: I was also watching Mega Ran’s beat battle where you won after a three way tie, that must have been a difficult battle to win…
MC: Oh yeah! All those producers are incredible! I would say the experience of doing big producer battles in the city to doing competitions such as Istandard and Battle of the beatmakers definitely came in handy in terms of experience.
N: What drives you as a rapper, what drives you as a producer, what drives you as a person?
MC: To answer all of those questions simply is the passion of loving the music you create, being happy, and to touch others emotionally and mentally.
N: I saw you grew up in Detroit, which is home to a very influential rap scene. How did the Detroit rap scene influence you?
MC: Well Detroit is a tough city and in the industry you have to have tough skin. Detroit influences me to know that know matter what you do, it’s all or nothing and never do things partially. Always follow through with your dreams
N: If you had a top 10 list of favorite rappers, who would be on that list?
MC: hmm. That’s a tough one! If i had to pick i would say, Eminem, Royce da 59, slaughterhouse, terminology, lupe fiasco, cassidy, andre 3000, Childish Gambino, BIG, Bone Thugs n Harmony.
N: What is it that separates you apart from others?
MC: Well, I would say maybe it would be the way I convey the type of music I do. Nothing too flashy but I make sure I leave listeners with an experience.
N: What is the thing you most enjoy about the nerd culture and being a rapper?
MC: The fact I can completely be myself and describe with all colors available in my arsenal. That right there is more powerful than ever.
N: If there was one thing you could change about the world around you, what would it be?
MC: More peace and love and embrace everyone around the world.
N: Do you think your life could have gone any differently?
MC: To be honest, it could have but at the same time without those factors we deal with today, i wouldn’t be as strong as i am today.
N: One last question. What do you think your future is going to contain?
MC: I feel it should be bright. Just have to wait and see
N: Thank you for your time.
MC: Thank you. Means a lot.
Mark Cooper can be found on Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube. You can also catch up to what he’s doing on his official website, itsmarkcooper.com. Make sure you support Mark Cooper, he is a self-persevering artist who deserves every bit of your attention.