Artist: MC Lars
Album: The Graduate
Release Date: 3/21/06 (Available now on iTunes)
Comments: Rather than trying to define himself, MC Lars decided it would be easier if he just up and created his own genre of music. And so, MC Lars's "The Graduate" is the first "post punk laptop hip hop" release in 2006, and to my knowledge, the first ever. True to his genre, MC Lars was in a few punk bands in the California area before moving to England where he decided to pursue a career in rap. As to how he made that transition, you're guess is a good as mine. But the combination is interesting to say the least.
Lyrically, MC Lars is unimpressive to say the least. But in this case that's ok, because these songs are more about what is being said than how they are being said. MC Lars takes on almost everything from writer's block (21 Concepts) to the commercialization of hip hop (Generic Crunck Rap) to the record industry (Download this song) to Hot Topic. (Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock) And while his raps are sophmoric and simple at their most complex, his ability to speak his mind with clarity and send a message makes up for it.
There is a problem though. MC Lars likes to joke around. Songs like "If I Had a Time Machine, That Would be Fresh" and "Space Game", while hilarious, detract from his overall message of DIY ethics and independent music and lifestyle. It's hard to take MC Lars seriously when he talks about the fallacy of the record industry on one track, and plays six degrees to Kurt Kobain on another track. It makes one wonder how MC Lars can preach with his tongue so firmly planted in his cheek.
One of the draws of MC Lars is that his live shows consist of anything from a full band to a single laptop, and that is reflected in the album. Many of the beats are simple and sound like a kid making his first beats on the families laptop. This simplicity is both a blessing and a curse, as it sometimes works (21 Concepts) and sometimes falls right on its face. (Roommate From Hell) Overall, the simple beats just furthers the DIY theme that covers the album. This point is further driven home by the guests that appear on the album. Both MC Chris and Ill Bill contribute lyrics to the album, giving MC Lars credibility and steps up the lackluster lyrics on the album.
The perfect combination of tongue in cheek humor and thought provoking message is found in the last track, "Singing Emo" which tells the story of the rise and fall of the fictional emo band "Hearts that Hate". This combination of commentary and comedy makes for the key track of the release, and shows that MC Lars has the potential to be a voice for a new generation of the technologically overfed youth, if he can just be taken seriously.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10
TRACKS: "Download this Song" "Singing Emo" "iGeneration" "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock"
WORTH THE MONEY: Fans of DIY punk, DIY hip hop, or fans of fun but poignant music should pick this one up ASAP.