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The Graduate

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Album Review

What the Beastie Boys were to the '80s and the Bloodhound Gang were to the '90s, MC Lars is to the first decade of the 21st century (which, frankly, could use a nickname a bit more catchy than "the aughts") — i.e., a smarmy suburbanite equally influenced by old school and new school, hip-hop and rock, and armed with enough clever pop culture references to keep a hipper-than-thou indie kid chuckling to himself for hours. The Graduate finds the wisecracking MC portraying himself as the court jester of the iPod generation, thumbing his nose at The Man with oh-so-witty songs such as "Generic Crunk Rap," "Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock," and "Signing Emo" that prove this Stanford alum understands you have to be smart before you can truly be a smartass. The opening "Download This Song," featuring Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick, uses a breakbeat the Chemical Brothers could be proud of as backdrop for a knowing deconstruction of the problems facing the music industry, with the poignant chorus, "Hey, Mr. Record Man, the joke's on you/Running your label like it was 1992/Hey, Mr. Record Man, your system can't compete/It's the new artist model, file transfer complete." The backing tracks, which borrow from influences ranging from punk and pop to techno and rap (including a self-deprecating parody of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" called "21 Concepts"), often tend toward generic laptop DJ stuff. But fans of geek-hoppers like MC Paul Barman should be able to appreciate a witty lyricist who references everything from Sartre and Craigslist to Ranger Rick and Mao Tse-Tung with tongue always planted firmly in cheek. While The Graduate may not be pumping in Jeeps on urban city streets anytime soon (read: ever), it's not difficult to imagine it providing the bong-hit soundtrack for the nation's university dorm rooms.


Born: 06 October 1982 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

MC Lars (real name: Andrew Nielsen) began making hip-hop-based tapes while still a kid, but was sidetracked from rap by such traditionally important issues (to teenagers) as playing guitar in a punk band and getting accepted to a college. Nielsen went to Stanford and then did an exchange stint at Oxford, but all the while he was fiddling with desktop productions and developing his quirky, pop-culture-savvy style. Boisterous live gigs and word of mouth built buzz for Lars' home-studio raps (influences:...
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The Graduate, MC Lars
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