Review: Question Bedtime - MC Frontalot


It's an open question whether "nerdcore" is a larger or smaller niche than "kindie," but almost by definition "nerdcore kindie" is smaller than either, and with Question Bedtime, MC Frontalot (who coined the term "nerdcore") has essentially created the first nerdcore kindie album.

Question Bedtime is the Brooklyn-based rapper's sixth album, and first for families, and instead of addressing subjects like video games in his songs, he's gone back in time to fairy tales from various cultures.  But rather than straight-up retellings, he's often given them a twist.  Goldilocks and the Three Bears becomes "Gold Locks," featuring rapper Jean Grae as the titular character, who rather than being scared of the bears, is a bear-eating hunter.  "Start Over" features a conversation of sorts between the Big Bad Wolf and a chorus of girls who aren't exactly buying his version of events with Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.  Nor does he limit himself to more familiar fairy tales you've heard hundreds of times - "Wakjąkága" features the title character who, well… just read Frontalot's lyrics, and you'll understand that it's not common.  Besides "Start Over," I also particularly liked "Shudders," whose retelling of the story of the youth who went out to learn what fear is (and is really more about fearlessness) is a useful song in an album that features stories that kids have, at points, shuddered at.

One listen to a handful of songs (or reading those lyrics above), and you'll quickly gather that this is not an album for your favorite preschooler.  Not that it's inappropriate or a Joseph Campbell treatise, mind you, just that his dense wordflow and his refusal to dumb down the darker themes of the stories are going to appeal more -- and, really, mean more -- to a significantly older audience, probably ages 9 or 10 and up.

I liked Question Bedtime, but it demands close attention if the listener is to get the most out of it.  (And close attention is hard, no matter if you're 6 or 36.)  The more you like dense hip-hop wordplay, the more you'll like this, and that's not what every kids music family is looking for.  But if you've read this far, and thought, "Hmm, that sounds kind of cool," then I think it's definitely for you.  Recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.