Like Spiderman and Sailormoon? Does the name Dr. Seuss dredge up warm and fuzzy feelings from your childhood? Maybe you find that 70s Kung Fu Fighting song irrevocably addicting? Is that song now stuck in your head to the point where you can’t help but open up Spotify and play it right at this very second?
Well, good for you. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll travel through the mind of the man behind the movement to change the way we think of the term “nerd” and all it encompasses.
One-man-band Michael Suess is singlehandedly stirring up the melting pot of Orlando, cooking up some serious beats and introducing his taste for nerdom to the world of hip-hop music.
“I don’t really eat the cultural diet. Trust me, you can miss out on a lot and I refuse to do that.”
There are nerds of all shapes and sizes in society today, he suggests. Recalling his more adolescent years, being a New York transplant living in Florida, he was overlooked and shunned as an outcast of the outcasts. Growing up, he buried his nose in comic books and he’d argue against the more trendy hype of Voltron.
“Growing up and being adopted and raised by a Jewish family, you’re going to have some problems. There are people who are going to pick on you, who don’t understand. I was very violent and angry as a child and I didn’t understand things from a very traditional standpoint.”
Fiction ferried him off into another dimension, one where monsters fought alongside you, protected you and befriended you. In his favorite shows, girls snuck off during “kah-rah-tay” class and fought intergalactic crime mobs who were out to run away with Tuxedo Mask. In this world, bullies held no sway, as he could always rely on Spiderman to save the day.
No one understood him back then, but now being labeled a “geek,” it’s almost hip to be square. Having the latest gadgets, knowing how to use them and following all the memes on the net, puts a heavy emphasis on the fact that one must at least have an inkling as to what’s in as far as the gamer lifestyle admonishes.
“I hate it when someone clamps onto a label because it’s in right now without going through middle school and playing Yu-Gi-Oh! cards in the courtyard and being on Neopets.com.”
There are people getting bashed for their love of all things obscure, while others arrive late to the scene and claim to know what’s up.
Suess names Theodore Giesel (the real name of Dr. Seuss, ya dig) among a handful of influences. He is, to this day, really interested in the philosophies of the late fiction writer.
He also cites Big Pun, Big L and Nas as his most inspiring artists to this day.
Like the stars of generations passed, Suess’s lyrics are catchy and pithy. Interspersed with beats from video games, his music is at once a soothing reminder of summers spent lounging about the house and playing Super Mario Bros. with the neighborhood ragamuffins.
Bringing up ideas from the past in light of the present, he remains culturally conscientious of where he grew juxtaposed with the person he is now.
“I was born in the Bronx, but I grew up mostly here, in Pine Hills. In New York, you have so much more independence and here you have to rely on everyone to get you through.”
Building upon that foundation of shaking a fist against the system, he was determined to pursue his dream of becoming a master chef, seeking national recognition as retribution for the way he was treated as a kid.
Deprived, depraved and stricken mad by the enclave of the cooking scene, Suess took to the streets. He started composing his own lyrics in high school after his friend Shawn showed him some of his work, Suess tore it apart and handed delivered him his own dose of rappertunistic reality.
He graduated and put his art aside as he focused on getting a degree in culinary arts Orlando Tech, when Miles Farewell appeared out of thin air, they clicked and almost immediately started laying down tracks. Farewell actually contributed to three songs from Suess’s “World’s Fair” mixtape, released on Dec. 19.
Now the former chef is popping up at gigs all over the city, backed by 5am Records.
How does he do it, you ask. What’s his process, you say.
“I write every day. At first I would start with a thought and let myself map it out. I kind of astral project from my body. I don’t know what I’m writing. I’m more detached.”
Suess takes music from movies and video games mostly, but he doesn’t rap over his own beats. He works with others to compile the next big hit, which could range from any one of the 23 tracks lined up for debut on April 19, 2014 when his first album, “The Proctor’s Penmanship,” is due for release.
“Dr. Seuss is a huge influence for this album because of how creative he was. He touched on a lot of things in general. Politics, Racism, World War II, etc.”
It seems like some of his music comes as a form of rebuttal, stemming from a deeper need to fight back against the atrocities of the world. Stephen Moonsammy of 5am records is the muse and self-proclaimed instigator of the Proctor, prodding him to delve deeper into issues that set mind afire.
“We talk a lot, joke around and argue, but he defends hip-hop with all his heart and I totally capitalize on that,” Moonsammy said. So, naturally he’s compelled to work his marketing magic and promote Suess to make his presence known, locally.
If you want to delve into this world where anyone can be construed as a nerd, as long as you follow your passion and heed not what insults others might dish out at you, click on one of the links below to listen to a new song brought to you by Michael Suess, himself at Headbang ‘n’ Buttonmash.com