Day One hundred and eighty-two: "Sir Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye" from Medium Rarities
Al has remained relevant in an impossible industry by changing with the times. When internet killed television Al rode the wave to unprecedented success on “White & Nerdy” and late-period gems like “All About the Pentiums”, “Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me”, “Virus Alert” and “Don’t Download This Song.”
He was an early adapter to the Internet age with impeccable taste, one of The Onion’s first vocal high profile fans, a pivotal collaborator and supporter of accidental podcasting mogul Scott Aukerman on both the television and podcast versions of Comedy Bang Bang along and a crucial early evangelist for the absurdist anti-comedy of Tim & Eric.
So it was only natural that Al would be a part of some of the internet’s biggest comedy music phenomenons, including “Autotune/Songify the News”, for whom Al moderated a sonically and editorially manipulated debate between then-Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the hilarious and much viewed “Bad Hombres, Nasty Women” and Epic Rap Battles.
For Epic Rap Battles’ “Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye” the nerdcore pioneer gets nerdier than ever before strapping on the perfumed wig and adopting the trademark angry, tight-lipped scowl of legendary scientist Isaac Newton to do take-no-prisoners lyrical battle with two fellow nerd icons/Godfathers of geekdom, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, a gentleman who goes on the internet to complain that science fiction movies are not science factual movies and that many contain NUMEROUS factual errors and inaccuracies, thereby rendering them suspect. I get it, but I also just want to enjoy Timecop in peace.
Al-as-Isaac comes roaring out the gate, delivering scientifically engineered battle raps at a machine-gun clip against a poser he derides as “Beaker with a bow tie” and a lightweight who “wastes time debating creationists” while he created “the science you explain to kids.”
Al rhymes with the kind of swagger and confidence that can only come with being one of the true fathers of science. He moves effortlessly from science to theology when he sneers at Nye, “I was born on Christmas, I’m God’s gift, I unlocked the stars that you’re dancing with.”
Al/Isaac convincingly depicts Nye less as an essential popularizer of science for the masses than a children’s entertainer out of his league opposite one of the all-time greats in a beast of a mood.
Even though Nye promenades about in public like he has a PhD in Doing Science with a Minor in Being Smart, he actually only has a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering, something the suspiciously knowledgable Newton taunts him about.
For someone who died centuries ago, Newton sure seems to know a lot about Nye’s weaknesses as a television performer, human being and scientific mind, or, if this version of Newton can be trusted, a “scientist”, a “scientific” “mind” who is less a real scientist than an entertainer who plays one on television and the internet and makes a mint in the process.
Nye slows things down to diss Newton as a success at science and lonely, unmarried, friendless loser as a human being before tagging in Neil deGrasse Tyson to finish the lyrical onslaught.
Epic Rap Battles co-creator Peter Shukoff plays Nye as a cool geek with a sidewards flow while Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5 lends his cartoon baritone and old school swagger to the role of Tyson.
Despite the prominent role Hip Hop plays in Al’s career it’s still a delightful novelty to hear Al share a track with another prominent rapper with a distinctive flow, in this case 2Na. This made me wish there were more songs like that, that Al collaborated with other rappers on a regular basis.
How sweet would a remix of “Isle Thing” or “Twister” with MF DOOM be? How awesome would it be to hear Ghostface or E-40 on new versions of “Word Crimes” or “Amish Paradise?”
As its title perhaps betrays, “Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye” contains possibly the nerdiest passage in a career that includes “The Brain Song”, “Pancreas” and “White & Nerdy” when Al-as-Isaac closes out a verse with a full on calculus equation in the form of "And I will leave you with a page from a book I wrote at half of your age to rebut/The integral sec y dy from zero to one-sixth of pi is log to base e of the square root of three times the sixty-fourth power of what??"
That’s a level of nerdiness that may actually be too nerdy for some nerds but Al goes there, empowered by playing a man who wasn’t just a science but someone who embodies science as a pursuit, way of thinking and way of life.
With more than a little help from his friends at Epic Rap Battles, on “Sir Isaac Newton Versus Bill Nye” Al gives new meaning to “dropping science.”
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