Saturday 12 Jul

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0

Kierston White - Don't Write Love Songs

The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?

Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.

07/01/2014 | Comments 0

Depth & Current - Dysrhythmia

"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
06/24/2014 | Comments 0

Weak Knees - “IceBevo”

Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
06/17/2014 | Comments 0

Kyle Reid & the Low Swinging Chariots - “When I Was Young”

Every artist should be the star of their own creative life, which makes Kyle Reid’s steps out of the shadows of the many ensembles and supporting roles he has played in Oklahoma bands over the years to front and center on stage feel like a just journey.
06/17/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · MC Lars mixes punk rock, hip-hop...

MC Lars mixes punk rock, hip-hop for raucous show

Chris Parker December 17th, 2009

While commercial hip-hop's fascination with gold, gats, drugs and ass is by now as fresh as a "Married "¦ with Children" episode, some artists live up to the form's fine heritage. ...


While commercial hip-hop's fascination with gold, gats, drugs and ass is by now as fresh as a "Married "¦ with Children" episode, some artists live up to the form's fine heritage.


Since hip-hop made its bones selling an urban fantasy to suburban kids, perhaps it's fitting that one of the wittiest rappers making the scene is Stanford-educated, middle-class kid Andrew Nielsen, aka MC Lars.

Although he grew up on punk rock, Nielsen soon discovered hip-hop, trading the guitar for a laptop and microphone. He began playing shows while studying abroad in Oxford, England, where he released a bedroom recording that opened the door to a publishing deal with Universal Records when he returned home to California. That financed the emcee's first tours alongside Bowling for Soup in 2004, and it's been onward and upward ever since.

If cleverness were bling, Nielsen could be a commercial for Jared Jewelers. His "Generic Crunk Rap" thanks Bentley, Alizet and Sean Jean for sponsoring the materialistic sub-genre before literally fulfilling the title's promise: "Phrase about my gun, rhyme about my loot / Phrase about these haters I sometimes have to shoot."

"Hipster Girl" opens with a Valley girl name-checking Pitchfork and lauding Conor Oberst over Pavement's Stephen Malkmus before concluding, "Did I show you my new miniskirt/leggings combo / You know what they say, ugly is the new hot."

"Signing Emo" features a spot-on parody of a typical emo song by a made-up band called Hearts That Hate, and Nielsen busts iPod-packing, self-congratulatory, bourgeoisie rebels buying Noam Chomsky books with Dad's credit card on "No Logo," scored to Fugazi's "Waiting Room." He's argued that "Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock," "Internet Relationships (Are Not Real Relationships)" and "Guitar Hero Hero (Beating Guitar Hero Does Not Make You Slash)."

"Weird Al said he's a pop-culture Cuisinart, and that's kinda of what I do. I write songs about everything that's interesting to me, because otherwise, why write songs?" Nielsen said.

While his rhymes are rife with LOL lines, Nielsen brings much more than the jokes. His "Guitar Hero" slam makes a point about our culture of consumption and the lack of engagement, encouraging kids to live their dreams, not just to play pretend. He's imagined going back in time to battle-rap Chaucer, and even turned historic subjects like "Manifest Destiny" and literary classics such as "Hamlet," "Macbeth" and "Moby-Dick" into raps.

"The literature stuff is definitely a way people get into my music, and it hits a certain audience but it's not a limited thing," said the former English major. "I don't consider what I do comedy or humor-rap or anything. It can be funny without being a joke. I think most nerdcore is a joke in that it's white people rapping about computers and 'Star Wars,' and even though I love that and a lot of my friends do it, I think that genre is pretty played out.

"I'm not a comedian telling jokes about my penis and then rapping about Robitussin. I'm rapping about real stuff. I have to believe in what I do and take it seriously. Even though I'm not afraid to have fun and be silly, I do it with some passion for and understanding of the culture."

Although he began with just a laptop, these days, Nielsen's also playing guitar and touring with a live crew, including DJ Damondrick Jack and protégé K. Flay, a female Chicago rapper and guitarist he met at Stanford, and who appears on his latest EP, "Single and Famous."

Nielsen remains quite prolific with six releases in the last four years. He's already at work on his next album, tentatively titled "Lars Attacks!" In the meantime, he hopes to turn kids on to the music that inspired him, like Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat to KRS-One and Rakim. He's energized by punk's DIY ethos and hip-hop's brash admonition to keep it real, something Nielsen said he does 24-7.

"That's kind of the whole point of hip-hop: that you have something to say, then say it, and say it well," he said. "That's exciting, but people need to be smart with their time because we're inundated with messages to just sit back and unplug our brains. That shouldn't be the case."

MC Lars with Bowling for Soup, Smile Smile and Sweet Action perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern. "Chris Parker

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