Thursday, March 09, 2006
If MC Lars isn't careful, he could become a one-hit wonder. How crazy would that be?
"Some of you may have heard this song on Live 105," he exclaimed to a crowd of about 100 die-hard MC Lars fans Wednesday nightat "Bottom of the Hill" bar/nightclub in San Francisco.
The song, "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock," has been getting some love from the Bay Area's biggest "alternative rock" station (do folks really say "alternative rock" anymore?).
It's a good song, full of crunching, hyper-speed guitar riffs courtesy of The Matches, a very legit punk outfit repping for the Yay Area. And the lyrics, " Hello Kitty iPod cases are not Punk Rock!...Led Zeppelin air fresheners are not punk rock!" are so gosh darn catchy, one can't help but sing along and share the sentiment.
So with the song blaring, the band going off, the crowd in a frenzy, it occurred to me: this guy could end up being a one-trick pony if he's not careful.
How can he possibly follow up such a time-appropriate anthem (it's about time somebody took aim at Hot Topic, and I'm not even into punk rock) with anything short of a top-40 pop tune? The only place left to go after getting punk rock street cred like this and a song on the radio is pop sensibility sell-out or become another case of when keeping it real goes wrong.
The rest of his show was almost a send-up a typical rap concert. He nodded his head with the beat, but looking like those "Night at the Roxbury" dudes. His hype-man was so amped up he reminded me of Carlton leading an aerobics class.
And when he wasn't doing tongue in cheek hip-hop parody, he was appealing to the geeks. Lars ended one song with the beat from the classic Game Boy title "Tetris," mimicking the game play for dramatic effect.
Later, he did an ode to Stanford's exit exam "Stat 60" which got all of the Cardinal alumni in a frenzy. Call it Ivy League rap if you must, but the nerds were really happy to see one of their own blowing up.
Watching the whole thing go down, you got the feeling that you were at a quirky dorm room talent show where the RA's were getting gully.
Lars isn't the most adept lyricist. Heck, my little sister would serve him in an MC battle (no joke). He raps with the kind of simplistic, sing-songy delivery one would expect of a child rapping the ABC's. His voice is pre-pubescent at its deepest, and Steve Erkel on uppers at its highest.
But he has a friendly, awe-shucks demeanor that is engaging and, to my surprise, endearing. It would be easy for me to spin dude as "another example of a whiteboy getting over," but I honestly am proud of the kid.
My first interview with him three years ago, I was skeptical. A Carmel Valley-reared, Stanford undergrad trying to school people on hip-hop music was a sure sign of the appocalypse at one point in my life. But Lars struck me as a genuinely good person with an honest agenda and love for the culture. How could I write him off when he was trying so hard?
And now, three years later, he's packing indy-venues in the Bay, and getting ready to play the side stage at the Vans Warped Tour in the summer. Rolling Stone wrote him up as an artist to watch. He even recorded a song with hip-hop original Ill Bill of Non-Fixion. He's legit.
And he could be a one-hit wonder, which would somehow be strangely appropriate. Although if I wrote songs for him, I might write something like "Stanford Grads That Wear Nintendo Jackets are not Hip-Hop!" But then I'd be wrong.
Posted by Marc Cabrera at 3:50 PM