Schaffer the Darklord
New York City-based rapper and comedian with material best suited for brainy and/or drug-addled audiences. Imagine a Frankenstein-esque monster assembled from equal parts Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Hicks, Eminem and Darth Vader stitched together inside the shell of a jaded heavy metal ex-patriot.
Live Review, Oct. 2005 – The Onion
Schaffer the Darklord merges geeky rap and stand-up comedy without descending into too much wackiness or self-parody. His take on Jesus Christ rising from the dead (to extract zombie vengeance on oppressive Christians) is pointed social criticism, while blunt attacks on rock-scene pariahs and attitude-laden, ethics-challenged bands are fearlessly spot on. And any fan of the Dead Kennedys needs to hear ‘My Dinner with Jello’ which simultaneously pays tribute to Schaffer’s hero and skewers a hero-worshipping culture.
Meet My Maker review, Dec. 2005 – Denver Westworld
STD, as he's called, is the coolest dork yet. Since the horror-core of Grave Diggaz and Flatlinerz never took off, he's taken up the torch with startlingly spry raps and brilliant rhymes. His delivery stands up to Eminem's, and the comedy sends up rap and metal's lack of humor with intelligence Weird Al can't touch.
Live Review, Dec. 2005 – Atlanta Creative Loafing
NYC "rappist" Schaffer the Darklord bridges the gap between the Beastie Boys and Bill Hicks with a rapid-fire flow that takes aim at hip-hop clichés and hipster posing with demonic venom.
Meet My Maker album review, Nov. 2005 – North Carolina Relish Now
Think of Schaffer as a cross between Eminem and the evil mirror universe version of They Might Be Giants, with a healthy dose of twisted, dark humor and catchy rhythms.
Dark Matters, Schaffer the Darkord Rattles the Comedy-Rap Crib, June 2005 – San Francisco Bay Guardian
The pantheon of comedy rap is a near-empty dome with very little inside to laugh about. N.W.A.? Yeah, they might be in there – they were very funny, but you would most likely find them hanging out back. Biz Markie, the undisputed champ of the genre, probably has a big-ass plaque hanging up. However, when I feel obliged to point out Arsenio Hall's Chunky A sitting in the corner, you know the world needs more – and better – funny rappers. So where to put Schaffer the Darklord?
Originally from Iowa and now based in New York, he initially dressed up like Dracula and rapped about "certain rock bands, being in a rock band, or things that rock bands deal with." It was a novelty act for sure: infiltrate bills with earnest bands and force himself on their unsuspecting audiences. "I prefer to play with rock bands, because there's this Trojan horse effect," STD says on the phone from NYC. "I get onstage and people usually just roll their eyes like, 'I can't believe I have to endure this.' Then I end up doing well, and a lot of people tell me they ended up being surprised."
Being a road warrior and rock band veteran himself – he served a stint as one of the drummers in San Francisco sonic bludgeoners Burmese, as well as a decade with the defunct S.F.-via-Iowa noise rock band L'Og – STD, otherwise known as Mark Schaffer, had plenty of material for his initial act. "Your Band," off last year's self-released debut, Meet My Maker, is both an ethics manifesto and a scathing indictment – and it's the only "rock band song" that remains today. A sample: "You babble on about your band like it's Babylon / And I'm bored / You've been playing 10 years? / You want a fucking reward?" Or even better: "Clutching a rattle in a crib / In a bib, bare butt / Your haircut looks like a dyed-jet-black Andy Gibb."
But what about hip-hop audiences? Does he ever feel the urge to cross over? "I generally don't like playing with hip-hop groups, but there are many, many exceptions. I've played with a lot of hip-hop acts that I just absolutely love, but a lot of the jokes in my act, a lot of the material in my songs, only rock 'n' rollers get a lot of the time." STD is probably talking about the song "Cat People." It's hard to imagine the backpack-and-hoodie crowd bobbing their heads while he raps, "My cat people, throw your paws in the air / Meow, meow / Meow, meow."
The transition into broader comedy can be traced to the song "Attack of the Clonefuckers" – an apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy about cloning oneself and then, well, you know, nobody else is around, so ... "Oh my / Look at my new toy / He'll be my best friend, lover, and house boy / Even though he's a guy and even though I'm not gay / I'm so vain / I'll be fucking my clone all day." And that's pretty tame compared to the XXX plot twists the song takes next.
"It was definitely a pretty extreme first step," STD confesses. "I still do it in the show because people react pretty strongly to that song live – both in positive and very, very negative ways." On his last tour, STD found himself in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, performing the song in front of his mother, aunt, and uncle. "My mom loved it. My uncle ... I don't know how the holidays are going to be from now on."
Schaffer the Darklord moved to New York City more than a year ago, after spending the previous five in San Francisco. His return for this year's Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival finds him with his most-honed, subversive, and funny act yet – with nary a rock band for competition (Fuckwolf don't count). It should be noted that musically, STD comes correct: his beats, samples, and flow pass the test even without the clone sex, cats, and vengeful zombie Jesus Christs. The man deserves a plaque.
Live Review, April 2005 – Boston Phoenix
But the highlight of the night was Schaffer the Darklord, a Queens rapper - sorry, "rappist" - whose intelligence and sense of irony were reminiscent of fellow white-rapper geek MC Paul Barman.
Mark of the Beast album review, Dec. 2007 – Time Magazine's Nerd World Blog
I feel the need to say that I've been listening to a lot of Schäffer the Darklord lately. Billyuns and billyuns of years ago I saw him live at a nerdcore show, and blogged about it, and then more or less forgot about him till his CD Mark of the Beast found its way, by divine means, into my hard drive. And you know what? It's pretty damn rich.
Schäffer the Darklord -- STD to the fanz -- comes across as a bit more of a homebrewing amateur than my nerdcore mainstays Frontalot (with whom STD has lately been touring) and mc chris, but he's definitely their equal in terms of performing and songwriting chops, and the rough edges are part of his charm. A list of standout tracks from Mark of the Beast (STD's real name is Mark; you get it) would have to include "The Rappist."
But now that I've plowed through the obvious fan favorites, which would also include "Cat People" and "Revenge of Attack of the Clonef___er" and "Nerd Lust" ("Let me see you shake it -- shake your inhaler baby!"), I'm getting into the odder tracks, which turn out to be just as good: "Bitter Musician" and "Night of the Living Christ" and "Tin Man," which is a rewriting of The Wizard of Oz via Black Sabbath's "Iron Man":
"Here comes the Tin Man!
And he will hack you apart
His skin is made of metal
and he has no heart!"
Etc. Check it out, do.
-Lev Grossman, Dec. 2007
Live Review, Nov. 2007 – LAist
Schaffer the Darklord brought his A game as the opener for MC Frontalot. While you would never confuse him for a member of 50 Cent's G-Unit, STD might very well have taken a page out of Curtis' man, Lloyd Banks' book. Like Banks, Schaffer's flows are heavy on punchlines. The Knitting Factory could have very well been the Laugh Factory, as STD had the audience cracking up on a regular basis. For those of you keeping score at home, yes I did just use Lloyd Banks and Schaffer the Darklord in the same sentence.
Schaffer's set included a song about people who like cats, a song about Jesus as a Zombie, a song about having sex with his clone and a song about the decaying of the English language thanks to text and instant messaging (my personal favorite or should I use a ridiculous acronym and say MPF?). Not exactly what you've come to expect from hip hop in regards to lyrical content. I definitely had to adjust to my surroundings.
As fan of hip hop at its purest, I love to see genuine artistry, lyricism, charisma and independent spirit - something Schaffer has.
-Tim Hammer, Nov. 2007
Mark of the Beast album review, Nov. 2007 – Hipster, Please!
I received a care package from the very bowels of hell (aka: New York) from none other than Schäffer the Darklord. Schäff provided me with both his debut release Meet My Maker and his new album Mark of the Beast. You’ve no doubt heard a bit of the material from the former, as I played the delightfully profane “Attack of the Clonefucker” on an edition of Radio Free Hipster. In case you missed it, let me sum up: Meet My Maker treads some magical line between the pomp of rap and the unbridled malevolence of metal without ever devolving into the unsavory potage that is rap-metal.
Consequently, Mark of the Beast takes everything that was right about its forerunner and builds on it. It’s more literate, more lyrical, and more lascivious. Plus the production value and overall flow of the album have really been ramped up.
I’m what you might call a comedy purist. Okay, I’m actually what you might call a douche bag, but I’m what I call a comedy purist, and as such I generally feel that musical comedy is only slightly more palpable than the dreaded prop comedy. Still, Schäffer manages to be both musical and comedic in turn without ever leading the listener to feel that one element is a tacked-on shtick meant merely to help the other go down smoothly.
What I’m getting at is that Meet My Maker is good. It’s fun and humorous and enjoyable and would be a welcome addition to anyone’s collection. Mark of the Beast, however, is a must-own. I know that STD has never fully been accepted by the nerdcore masses, but, as I’m sure anyone who caught him on tour with Frontalot can corroborate, he’s one of us. Come for the “Cat People,” stay for the “Nerd Lust.”
-Z., Nov. 2007
Live Review, Nov. 2008 – CMJ
"...but Schaffer The Darklord stole the show. When STD (what he claims is 'Standard' abbreviated) climbed on stage with his tiny beat box, it looked like he’d be more comfortable on Wall Street (actually, he does work on Wall St.) or behind a byline rather than star in a rap show. But then, that’s nerdcore’s point. From the first synth beats his outlandish movements and perfect diction had people laughing, singing along and erupting into clapping bursts. A stage power failure in the middle of a song about the destruction of language couldn’t even bring down the mood - a fan brought him a beer, he made some jokes, and then he (literally) spun around, unfazed, back into the rhymes. His recorded material does little justice to the energetic hilarity of his live show."