Nerdy Clams Need to Know, Part Two: MC Lars
by Len Pal, Clamrespondent and Co-Host of MC Hawking’s Podcore Nerdcast
It’s been a while since the first installment of “Nerdy Clams Need to Know”, in which I discussed the novel Ready Player One, the Fluxx series of card games, and the music of MC Frontalot. I promised that in the future I’d talk about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series of books, a game called The Resistance, and the music of Schaffer the Darklord. And I’ll still do all of that eventually, but not today.
Today I want to talk about MC Lars.
MC Lars created a style he calls “post-punk laptop rap”, using punchy guitar riffs and punk samples to drive his energetic lyrics, but the factors that really make Lars stand out in the nerdcore genre are his frequent use of literary themes and his extremely positive, upbeat attitude. Today’s hip-hop artists frequently rap about drugs and alcohol, violence, and sex. Lars raps about growing up, learning, counterculture, and quite frequently about great literature.
Yes, I said literature. I’m sure you’ve seen movies where some clever teacher manages to get inner city kids to appreciate Shakespeare by reading it to a beat as if it were a rap. Bonus points if you watched Free Enterprise all the way to the end and saw William Shatner’s rap adaptation of Julius Caesar. The idea of lit-hop isn’t all that new, but there’s a difference between doing it and doing it well.
MC Lars does lit-hop extremely well. Like, “get your kids listening to it in middle school” well. After listening to Lars sing Hey There Ophelia, they’ll want to read Hamlet. Listening to Ahab will inspire them to read Moby Dick. And of course MC Lars’ favorite is Edgar Allen Poe; he brings several of Poe’s poems to life, and his track Flow Like Poe provides the best explanation of iambs, diameter, tetrameter, and pentameter I’ve ever heard, deconstructing rhythm and meter in simple and fun terms.
But there’s more to Lars than just lit-hop. As a true DIY indie artist, MC Lars raps about the music industry in tracks like Signing Emo, Download This Song, Straight Outta Stockholm, and What Is Hip-Hop? In Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock, iGeneration, No Logo, and Hipster Girl, he raps about trends and subcultures. And what nerdcore artist doesn’t rap about video games? O.G. Original Gamer and Guitar Hero Hero lovingly illustrate that you can take gaming a little too seriously. Nerdy enough for you?
“Sure, Len – good enough. But why are you telling us this right now, instead of that other stuff you promised?” Well, two reasons, really.
First, because his newest album, The Zombie Dinosaur LP, will be released on October 6th.
I’ve been listening to The Zombie Dinosaur LP for about a week now. It has everything you want from an MC Lars album: Sublime with Rome (Is Not the Same Thing as Sublime) calls out the music industry for sending out what’s left of bands after the loss of key band members. Hipster Mom is a follow-up to Hipster Girl, showing how family can impact the hipster lifestyle.
Now that you’re addicted to lit-hop, you’ll enjoy Dragon Blood (inspired by Game of Thrones), Forgot About Jack (about Kerouac and On the Road), and Never Afraid (about being an avid reader since childhood). Triforce is a Legend of Zelda inspired introspective look at growing up and embracing power, wisdom, and courage. And If I Were a Jedi (That Would be Hella Awesome) and The Ballad of Hans Moleman will appeal to fans of Star Wars and The Simpsons.
And second, he’ll be playing at Thunder Road in Somerville, MA on October 11th.
You have between now and then to fall in love with his music, see the show, and probably even take a selfie with him afterwards! I saw MC Lars last year at The Middle East (along with mc chris and Spose) and can honestly say it was one of the most fun live shows I’ve ever attended. This is The Joyful Smiles tour, and I’m certain it will live up to its name.
So what now? As I’ve said before, I can’t really sell you on a musician just by listing song titles. You’re going to have to take the next step yourself. Go onto YouTube and search for MC Lars. Scroll through the results and find some of the titles I mentioned above, and then some I haven’t. If you like it (as I’m sure you will), go to iTunes and buy his albums. (Nerdy rappers gotta eat.) I’ll be back again with more nerducation in the future. Until then, stay out of trouble, you Nerdy Clams.