Print publicity: Michelle [at] AudibleTreats [dot] com Online publicity: Dan [at] AudibleTreats [dot] com
Digital photos, bio and music available at: http://www.audibletreats.com/download/erk_tha_jerk/
(October 28, 2010 – Brooklyn, NY) Bay Area rapper Erk Tha Jerk is proud to announce the release Nerd’s Eye View. The album, which serves as the official debut for Erk, who also produces and directs videos for himself and others, will be released November 9th as a joint venture between Bay Area staple SMC Recordingsand Erk’s own label Red Planet Music Group.
Erk, born and raised in Richmond, California, is part of a supremely talented rising class of rappers coming from the Bay. He’ also holds the distinction of being one of the rare few from that class with the ability to appeal to the underground while at the same time receiving mainstream radio play. “Right Here,” the self-produced melody- and synth-filled sex anthem released earlier this year as the lead single from Nerd’s Eye View, is one of the most-played songs on Bay Area powerhouse radio station 106 KMEL in the past year; the song subsequently broke into Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop chart, has been added to rotation on MTV Jams, and amassed hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, asserting Erk as a force to be reckoned with both in the cipher and on the radio, alike.
For Erk, Nerd’s Eye View was a long time coming. Crafting the album over a two and a half year period – Erk released a handful of mixtapes of EP’s during that time – Erk was in no hurry to rush out lackluster product. “Long nights, weed, and honesty is my formula,” says Erk. “I just tried to zone out and capture moments. I didn’t want to make ‘party’ music or ‘goon’ music. I wanted to capture what I felt at the specific moment in time.” The result, a 13-track album on which Erk produced six songs (Traxamillion, Bedrock, and The Invasion handle the rest), finds Erk discussing the failed relationship with the mother of his child, while attempting to explain the situation his young daughter (“How Do You Love Me”) with the same ease, maturity, and lyrical clarity as making braggadocios boasts (“Can’t Stop Now”).
With Nerd’s Eye View, Erk, who will be featured in XXL Magazine’s upcoming Show & Prove section, shows great range; Erk has spent time in higher education, holding down 9-to-5′s, and holding down corners, and the multitude and variety of those experiences are reflected throughout the album. “I wanted the title to be clever yet familiar enough for people to relate to,” says the bespectacled rapper, whose cleverness extends throughout the album. “The concept was ‘music from my point of view;’ not nerd as in ‘I know how to do math well,’ but nerd as in ‘not part of the in-crowd’.”
Erk Tha Jerk’s Nerd’s Eye View will be available November 9, 2010 via Red Planet Music Group/SMC Recordings.
Erk Tha Jerk is a West Coast Kid Cudi without the liquid cocaine problem. Born and raised in Richmond, the emcee rose to fame this year with his explicit slow-jam single “Right Here,” which found a spot on the Bay Area’s 106 KMEL, and broke onto Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100. With help from producers Traxamillion, Bedrock, and The Invasion, there’s plenty more ballin’ on his solo debut LP Nerd’s Eye View, but it’s when Erk gets ambivalent or lost that the record really escalates. He splits the difference between emcee and struggling dad, rapping about divorce and self-doubt as much as carnal delights on the mall escalator.
“I just tried to zone out and capture moments. I didn’t want to make ‘party’ music or ‘goon’ music. I wanted to capture what I felt at the specific moment in time,” Erk said in a recent interview. “Long nights, weed, and honesty is my formula.” Listeners can hear it on “Favorite Song,” one of several tracks produced by Erk himself. Like many of his own productions, it’s pensive and heavy on emotional, orchestral samples. He’s not afraid to undercut his own braggadocio. I think I smoke too much/I say that all the time, he discloses. Guest rapper DB adds his own two cents: Smoking good/doing me/who is we really foolin though? On “Summer,” Erk asserts that all he needs is himself, his laptop, a keyboard, and his depression. He digs into the dirty details on divorce rap “How Do You Love Me,” the circumstances of which might be related to sex raps like “Wetter.”
Nerd’s Eye View shows off a talented, ambivalent artist on the verge of either blowing up or quitting altogether, and struggling to survive either scenario.
Erk Tha Jerk talks about melody a lot. He’s an upcoming hip-hop artist releasing music on an underground level, but instead of spewing the usual plaudits about bringing back pure lyrical skills and being an antidote to an oversaturated commercial scene, the 28-year-old Richmond-raised rapper has his sights set on mainstream recognition. More than half of the songs on his hype-building EP, The Prelude, are hinged on pop-ready and often AutoTune-enabled hooks he sometimes sings himself. They’re slick to the point that they wouldn’t sound out of place on a 50 Cent or T.I. single. Hooks and melody are key to his ambition. “I had a turning point about three years ago,” Erk explains in Manhattan on a recent trip to solidify industry connections. “I realized you can be a good rapper, but people have to like your songs. You add melody, and people sing along.”
Until that realization, Erk was preoccupied with demonstrating his rhyming skills in lunchroom freestyle sessions at Hayward High School. It was an arena where the fiercest, most verbose lyrics won. “My style was pure battle rap,” he says. “I was using lots of metaphors and just telling people I’m better at putting words together than the next person.” It was there that he picked up his rap name too, after a friend called him Erk Tha Jerk “out of the sky blue.” Despite considering the name “horrible,” it stuck. “My government name doesn’t even exist now,” he jokes.
But as the newly-named Erk set his sights on moving from winning lunchroom bragging rights to recording songs, an economic reality hit him: “The more I was asked to pay somebody else to come up with a hook for a song, the more I tried to do it myself. It created my style.”
It’s cool to be a nerd these days.
Outside of Bill Gates, there’s no better illustration of this seeming contradiction than Erk tha Jerk. The Bay’s latest rap sensation – known for his trademark spectacles – has quickly accumulated national buzz, on the strength of a No. 1 radio hit (“Right Here”) and his winning, albeit somewhat unorthodox, persona.
A self-described “hood n*gga” who grew up in Richmond and Oakland, Erk eschews the typical turf rap clichés. His lyrics are swaggerish and soil-savvy, but he doesn’t rhyme about birds, bricks, shootouts or sideshows. His version of nerdhood has nothing to do with the Internet emcee-populated sub-genres of “nerdcore” or “geeksta rap,” either – you won’t find any references to Commodore 64s, pocket protectors or suburban strip malls.
Erk is a nerd because he doesn’t try to be something he’s not. In other words, he’s too smart to go dumb. His aspirations to success, fame and fortune involve hard work and dedication. That realness and work ethic, which Erk calls his “grind,” comes across loud and clear on his highly-anticipated debut album, “Nerd’s Eye View.”
In addition to rapping, Erk produced six of the album’s 13 tracks, with the rest of the album handled by Bedrock, Traxamillion, Su and the Invasion.
“Nerd’s Eye View” will likely be remembered as one of the definitive Bay Area albums of the post-hyphy era. Its pedigree is well-evident: Bedrock and Traxamillion were two of the main architects of the hyphy sound; the album’s label is SMC (who have trafficked rather heavily in Yay Area turf rap); and if that wasn’t enough, Erk’s managed by Stretch, one of the founders of Thizz Records (who also manages Mistah F.A.B.).
But where hyphy reveled in its outlaw status and urged listeners to have epileptic fits of maniacal, frenzied, Ecstasy-enhanced stupidity, Erk takes a calmer, measured approach.
Despite his titular moniker – and his macquereau-ish persuasiveness – he’s not such a jerk that he can’t say he’s sorry. There are numerous references to fatherhood and at one point, he describes how his exit strategy for escaping poverty meant not taking penitentiary chances: “I kept my nose clean, didn’t need to get involved/ So it wouldn’t be a thing for me to leave and get a job.”
Erk Tha Jerk – Nerd’s Eye View
August 5, 2010 – Red Planet Music Group
As the old saying goes, one should never judge a book by its cover. That is definitely true in the case of up and coming rapper/producer Erk Tha Jerk. Hailing out of California’s Bay Area, Erk does not look the part of hip-hop star but one listen to his music proves otherwise.
Debunking the stereotype of what a West Coast rapper should be is what got a very fickle hip-hop audience to initially notice Erk. His streetwear heavy fashion sense, trademark black eyeglasses and hood nerd persona all worked in his favor. Being from a “bad place” yet knowing that there are non-hood things out there is what has shaped Erk’s approach to life and music. “I went to college for a couple years, I’ve worked 9 to 5 jobs and I’ve sold weed and none of those things quite worked out so I’m kinda like a hood nerd.”
The place Erk calls home, Richmond, CA is not known nationally for hip-hop but it is the birthplace of one of music industry’s biggest empires in Percy “Master P” Miller’s No Limit Records. Before blowing up out of New Orleans, Miller ran a label and record store out of Richmond proving that just because you come from the hood doesn’t mean you have to stick to script.
“I didn’t know it was a ghetto until I got older,” says Erk speaking of Richmond. “It shaped me to believe that just because you are from here it does not mean that you have to be stuck on one sound. I didn’t want to be a hood rapper. I was always against the grain.”
Erk fully embraced what some would consider a contradiction with The Hood Nerd mixtape series. The original, released in 2008 created a buzz in the street and on the net. Next up Erk dropped the song and video for “Don’t Need Em” which completed his introduction to fans and garnered some local radio play.
Over the next couple years Erk would go on to release various songs that would define him as an artist including “Plane in the Air” featuring Too Short and the satirical anti-hyphy anthem “I’m So Dumb,” but it was 2009’s “Right Here” that would put him firmly on the map.
The raunchy exhibitionist anthem recorded in the summer of 2009 was a dramatic change from what fans had come to expect from Erk. The autotuned hook and sexually driven lyrics immediately resonated with the streets of Cali and beyond. “It was so dirty, it was like Ying Yang Twins ‘Wait’ or Akon’s ‘I Wanna Love You,’ one of those songs that are completely filthy but people still played it,” explains Erk about the song’s appeal.
The song’s popularity eventually translated to the airwaves where the censored version of “Right Here” became one of the most played songs on 106 KMEL. “All you do is change the F word to love and you got a hit song.” The single also broke onto Billboard magazine’s top 100 Hip-Hop/R&B charts. To date the Taj Mahal-directed clip has garnered more than 100,000 views online and is in rotation on MTV Jams.
Capitalizing off of the buzz of “Right Here” Erk released the Hood Nerd EP through his Red Planet Music Group independent label in February of this year. Featuring more melodious hooks and commercially palatable Erk songs, the EP outsold many established acts in Northern California stores and continues to do brisk business via digital outlets.
In addition to producing and directing videos for other artists, Erk is currently working on his first full-length album titled Nerd’s Eye View.
Erk Tha Jerk’s music is laden with a smoothness and sophistication, whether expressing a loving urgency on “Right Here” or starring in his own edgy action-adventure mini-movie in his video for “Plane in the Air,” the latter featuring Too $hort. The rapper/producer hails from Richmond, one of the most violent cities in all of California, and while he was influenced by the greatest rhymers to hit those streets, Erk’s musical view is widescreen enough for international appeal.
Erk first drew significant attention in the Bay Area last year when a mixtape track called “I’m So Dumb” started getting airplay on KMEL, an urban radio station that’s been criticized for its relative lack of spins for local music in recent years. The song, which takes swipes at the over-reliance of gimmickry in the discarded hyphy scene (“You see where all that dumb shit gets you, back on the block before you know what hit you”), instantly got people talking. Not too loudly, though.
“I got good reactions from people who would come up to me after shows and they’d whisper, ‘I’m so glad you did that song,’ and walk off real quick,” he remembers. “I think a lot of rappers felt like I wasn’t talking to them, so they didn’t really say nothing. The song obviously started some controversy and I did it to get some things off my chest, but it was really just a joke. It was never supposed to be released as a radio song.”
With hyphy, the door that was cracked open to the curiosity of the rest of the world may now be closed. Erk, however, doesn’t feel like that’s a negative.
“I feel like it wasn’t something that should have been taken advantage of in the first place,” he asserts. “Our region wasn’t really known for making that kind of music so when it changed and everybody did try to take advantage of it, it kind of backfired. There was a point in time when everybody was on the radio at the same time, everybody was hyphy, everything was ‘go dumb’ this, ‘scraper’ that, and people were taking advantage of it. They were having shows and making money and I just don’t think it worked because it turned into a gimmick that couldn’t have lasted. Real things don’t fade off, only gimmicks come and go. You can’t plan to rob a bank and then be upset when something goes wrong and you get caught. They set up to ride the bandwagon and people who weren’t necessarily hyphy started making hyphy music and everything started going astray. And when it didn’t work people started pointing their fingers at each other. What do you expect? You kinda did it to yourself.”
Ultimately, that movement’s implosion is giving Bay Area Hip Hop a chance to return to authenticity, and as Erk shops his debut album Nerd’s Eye View to labels in the West and the South, his excitement at having a shot as an individual is palpable.
“For young artists and artists that grew up in it, it gives everybody a fresh start. I’m happy because everybody has their season and it wasn’t my season three or four years ago. I didn’t have a place there. So hopefully now I can create a space for myself. We can all do it the way it was supposed to be intended, making your kind of music.”
Words by Tamara Palmer
Photo by D-Ray
AllHipHop.com: In an era where entertainment is full of gimmicks it has become a rarity to find someone who does not conform to trends but rather sets their own. Rapping was a hobby at age 12, taken seriously by age 18, and 10 years later Erk Tha Jerk has paid his dues and is definitely putting on for his city. The Rich City [Richmond, CA] rapper is certainly someone that has something refreshing to contribute to Hip-Hop. From his original productions, to his witty verses and melodic hooks, Erk is an all around artist.
With his hometown on his back, Erk Tha Jerk is taking his own route to success and continues making singles that solidify why he deserves every achievement he acquires….
Click here to read this article: http://allhiphop.com/stories/breedingground/archive/2010/02/25/22135286.aspx
By Rachel Swan
Richmond emcee Erk tha Jerk is a slender guy with horn-rimmed glasses and a gallows humor. He speaks more slowly and less animatedly than most rappers, without having to constantly drop slang words or acquire a ghetto accent. He calls himself “the ‘hood nerd,” mostly because it’s an impression he gives off by wearing glasses. “People would say, ‘Oh, you’re smart,’” explained Erk, who has worn glasses for twelve years. “But if I take them off, am I not smart?”
Erk has long been amused by how people misread him, since he’s not a nerd in the classical sense — though he might be the nerdiest guy to have a hit song on KMEL, or a stage name in the form “something-the-something.” He was christened by a friend in high school, but says it took him a long time to cop to the name. “I thought it was stupid,” he said. He has tattoos and used to rock a donkey chain, but the glasses have an overpowering affect — which is the main reason that people think Erk is more of a jerk than he actually is….
Media Stream Links and Resources:
The Prelude EP: http://media.audibletreats.com/Erk_Tha_Jerk-The_Prelude.zip
“I Know” (Song): http://media.audibletreats.com/Erk_Tha_Jerk-I_Know.mp3
Hood Nerd 2: Memoirs Of The Invisible Man (Mixtape): http://limelinx.com/files/260fdd79d68a0c5c7f2fab5d99d842da
Ozone Magazine Cipher (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqBKNLxwT8I
“Anything” (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6gi8PO7vM0
“Perfect Mistake” (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQmlibt4MyM
“Summer” (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp58fsRUadg
Downloadable Bio, and pictures available here: http://www.audibletreats.com/download/erkthajerk/
Official Site: http://www.erkthajerk.com