“I passed his dorm room and he was playing some awesome video games that I had yet to play myself,” Gerreol Hoover remembers. “I was instantly jealous of this guy.”
Hoover is recounting how he met Sean Watson at The University of North Carolina Greensboro. The two men, now both 38, bonded over their love of video games, comic books and anime, Hoover continues, and those shared interests rolled over into a mutual appreciation of hip-hop, rock and electronic music.
As Omega Sparx and SWATS respectively, Hoover and Watson comprise nerdcore duo GameBreax, now five years into spreading the hip-hop gospel of video games. This summer, each of the rapper/composers stepped out of their comfort zones with solo releases.
On June 21, Hoover dropped the single “Don’t Touch Me,” a healing balm for sexual assault survivors. Watson released “Never Stand Down” on July 12, a track dedicated to workers toiling in the confines of corporate America. Watson’s single is a teaser for his Reclamation EP, slated to hit this fall, which includes a collaboration with Hoover called “World’s Greatest.”
Nerdcore is growing apace with gamer culture, says Watson. “You identify with reluctant heroes who don’t know they possess super powers,” he explains. “They’re thrust into situations that make them discover who they are.”
Empathy also informs the pair’s latest music. Hoover’s “Don’t Touch Me” is an ode to members of his family who’ve suffered from sexual assault.
“It leaves scars on a person’s soul,” he says. “The best things you can do as a lyricist is write someone’s pain.” Half the proceeds from the single go to organizations helping survivors.
Similarly, Watson’s “Never Stand Down” reaches out to people close to the composer.
“This song is dedicated to folks who have lost a job through no fault of their own,” he says. “I want them to know that I love them and feel them.”
With entwining vocal performances by Hoover and Watson, “World’s Greatest” is a de-facto GameBreax track.
“It’s the most chill, relaxed song we’ve done, [but] it has a powerful undertone,” Watson says. The song can be taken as a depiction of a physical fight and/or a metaphorical struggle, he adds.
“It’s about a meeting of the minds and a clash of wills,” Hoover maintains. “It’s like a rap battle in a laid-back format.”
The future looks bright for this dynamic duo. On July 27, GameBreax will perform at the massive gamer fest Bit Gen XIV in Baltimore, where they will continue to display their super powers of dynamics, beats and compassion.