Spoken Nerd, the Nashville based hip hop/indie pop project of Nathan Conrad and his associates is not your typical juvenile rap project, nor is it a collection of songs mechanically written to make you feel good. That being said, Spoken Nerd songs do make you feel good, but they do it with thought provoking, intelligent lyrics. Conrad's lyrics are not only intricately cunning, but they are tongue in cheek in all the right ways. They trick you into smiling and reflecting on the same sore subjects that leave you arguing with friends and family, like politics, love, conspiracies, and religion. Though the song concepts often point out the negative's in the human thought process, they will question ones beliefs with just the right kind of sing-song melodies that make everyone want to sing along. These melodies and lyrics combined with the production power of Joel J Dahl “The Phantom Farmer,” create a new entity. One that is much a trickster like Loki or Anansi, but who possesses the might of He-Man and the power of Greyskull, and is using it to create Rube Goldberg-esque machines out of every song.
Born in Paducah, Kentucky, Nathan spent most of his younger years in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Raised in a traditional home, little Nathan was strictly not allowed to listen to rap music, and though his childhood was enjoyable, when he finally got his hands on a cassette-tape of the “2 Live Crew” the walls came tumbling down. There was no stopping young Nathan as he wore the tape out, listening to it everyday and sharing it with his friends.
The novelty of rap quickly died off as Nathan grew out of hip hop. After learning to play bass, Nathan joined up with some grunge bands in high school and became part of the local scene. However, his passion for rap was not gone, just dormant, and everything began to change when out at “The Farm,” he saw the hip hop jam band the G.F.E. (Granola Funk Express). G.F.E.'s non-traditional take on the genre really appealed to Nathan. He became more interested in indie hip hop and after moving to The Farm he began to play bass for a group called Verbal Kief. Verbal Kief was a funky rock group that's main vocalist was a rapper. Nathan began to rap some in the group, and when the lead singer left the band, Nathan stepped up and they renamed the group the After-hours Hip Hop Project.
Besides the After-hours Project, Nathan became involved in a variety of different musical acts and grew as an artist, all the while becoming more and more interested in a world of underground hip hop on the local and national scene. After moving from The Farm to Florence, Alabama, Nathan made a trip to Nashville to see “A Perfect Circle”. While walking past “Windows on the Cumberland,” he heard the familiar voice of one of his favorite local rappers/producers, toofor7. Nathan decided to go in and introduce himself and ask toofor7 if he would be interested in producing his solo album. He said he was , wrote his address on a piece of paper, and told Nathan to come over sometime and he would record his songs. So in 2005 after talking with toofor7 via Kapsole, Nathan set a date and they recorded the first full length Spoken Nerd effort called “Too Real for Vision.”
Too Real for Vision had good success and got Nathans foot in the door as he began to play more shows around the area. Coming off this success Nathan began to work on his second solo venture. This one was also mostly produced by toofor7 and was released on MLA Records in 2007, titled “The Lion, the Fish, and the Mustache.” Gaining more and more momentum as an artist, and beginning to find his niche, Nathan released his next two albums on Ends of the Earth Records. The first one in 2008 produced by Rick Saxby called “24 Carrot Dreams” which featured good success and was anchored by a strong singles in the songs “I Love the Police” and “Lying Here on the Floor.” The second album on Ends of the Earth was entitled “Live from the Neighborhood of Make Believe,” and came out in 2009. LNMB, also produced by toofor7, and began to showcase more of Nathans skills as a songwriter. The album featured more melodies and sing song arrangements than his early hip hop albums. With strong catchy rap ballads like “Greg's Pool” and the “Ode to W,” it was clear that Nathan was beginning to hone his craft.
Nathan started to find his identity as an artist with Live From the Neighborhood of Make Believe, but in 2010 he aced it with the release of his 5th full length album “Apocalypse Awareness Day.” Produced by DJ Orig and released on Monkrock/MLA Records, Apocalypse was the album that set Spoken Nerd apart. With electronic synth pop beats coupled with real instrumentation and a consistently catchy songs throughout, Apocalypse was Nathan's most demanding album. The songs demanded your attention, and the opportunities to tour and play live became more frequent as Nathan played over 75 Spoken Nerd shows that year and was able to share more songs with the general public than ever before.
Having earned his merit as a rap singer, in 2012 Nathan prepared to release his next album, “Our Team is Going to Win!!” Writing the music with Joel J Dahl “The Phantom Farmer,” Our Team combines indie pop and electronic music with Nathan's eloquent rap styles. Powerfully catchy melodies in songs like “Detective Novels,” “Stripes on My Shirt,” and the title track “Our Team is Going to Win,” make it easy to see why this has been the most successful of Spoken Nerd's studio ventures. The album is full of content, with Nathan singing and rapping about everything from religion, to politics, to love, to masons, to striped shirts, to “Big Beards” in the single featuring Ceschi Ramos outlining their passion for a largely hairy face. Our Team is Going to Win has been the most successful album thus far, with Spoken Nerd playing full band and solo performances on the road over 1/3 of the year.
Nathan's work has been inspired by a plethora of bands some of those including: Dinosaur Jr., Beck, Bone, Built to Spill, Sole, Stars, Pedro the Lion, and M83. He is preparing to release a new studio album on the exclusive new indie label “Invisible Library,” in the Spring of 2014.
In society “words” are often described as a powerful tool, with statements like “the pen is mightier than the sword” or “the power of life and death lies in the tongue.” If those statements are true, then hip hop though over-saturated with artist, is the mightiest of music genres and Spoken Nerd with an arsenal of great songs has secured their spot as one of hip hop's rare titans.