MC Lars - The Graduate (Cover Artwork)

MC Lars

MC Lars: The GraduateThe Graduate (2006)
Horris / Nettwerk

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: William_DavidWilliam_David
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Trying to figure out how to start a review for an album like this on Punknews is a task in and of itself. MC Lars has been met previously with comments like "Atom and His Package calledâ?¦" and "Poor man's Atomâ?¦" I can't claim there are no connections, and neither can he, as a track titled "Atom, You're Awesome" on his debut album, Radio Pet Fencing, pays homage to a musician Lars admires. Then again, to deem him a copycat is to not understand the concept behind his music. He has dubbed it "Post-Punk Laptop Rap," and as the opening of "Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock" states, "MC Lars is more punk than you."

Why even write a review of this album for Punknews? (A) The majority of Lars' audience has come from pop-punk fans on tours with the likes of Bowling for Soup and the Matches, (B) he is truly doing something different in today's music scene, and isn't afraid to be trying something different and let you know he's doing it. What's more punk than that? So now if I may, I'll proceed with an actual album review.

The Graduate is by no means a perfect album. As a complete piece of work, 2004's Laptop EP is much more solid in creating a specific style that is Lars. However, The Laptop EP only had seven songs to work with, whereas The Graduate presents fans with 14 tracks to digest. Furthermore, The Laptop EP seemed more like the introduction of an artist's style, and gimmick (if you will) to the American audience (as his first record was released by a UK label). The Graduate branches out from this image he has created for himself, and while some of the songs aren't as stellar as what you'd otherwise expect from Lars, the album truly shows the evolution (or graduation) of an artist and offers a lot more to think about in the process.

It opens with "Download This Song" featuring Jaret Reddick of the previously mentioned Bowling for Soup. It's as catchy as it gets, while being an intelligent look into the music revolution caused by downloading, the major label ideologies, and what is to come in the future. "Did you know in 10 years labels won't exist / goodbye DVDs and compact discs."

The second track is much less serious. "The Roommate from Hell" features vocals from MC Chris, also known as MC Pee Pants to Aqua Teen fans. If you ever wondered what Satan would sound like after sucking on helium, MC Chris provides this, proving this was just a great guest feature choice. "Roommate" feels a lot more like Lars' older style of songs -- just plain silly, but laced with an endless number of allusions. Lines like "He likes holding down Christians / and reading Jean Paul Sartre" and "Lars, you're causin' laughter when you call yourself a rapper, dude / How many Dead Milkmen albums are there named after you?"

"21 Concepts" simply goes through 21 concepts Lars had for songs that were ditched when writing the album. "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock" is a self-explanatory, but much needed song. Plus, lines like "Hot Topic uses contrived identification with youth subcultures to manufacture and antiauthoritarian identity and make millionsâ?¦When a crass corporate vulture feeds on mass consumer culture, spending Mommy's money is not punk rock" make this otherwise straightforward track shine.

"Rapgirl" is one of those tracks that doesn't seem as high-quality as the rest of the album and not necessarily the "Lars" you'd expect, but for someone that has been following his career, it's interesting to see the artist start to seep through in his lyrics, as opposed to just being about his views. This, however, is followed by Generic Crunk Rap." It opens "This popular sub-genre is brought to you by materialism. We'd like to thank Bentley, Alize champagne, and Sean Jean clothing. We'd like to thank the record industry for marketing hip-hop stereotypes to twelve-year-olds in a pop culture that unquestioningly consumes vapid, superficial entertainment." It then proceeds to satirically emulate every crunk song ever written.

"Ahab" is the obligatory literary song on this disc. Lars graduated as an English major from Stanford, and his previous albums have included tracks on Edgar Allen Poe's "Raven" and Shakespeare's "Macbeth." This track provides the context of Melville's Moby Dick in 3:21. "iGeneration" and "Signing Emo" are both carryovers from The Laptop EP, and both are five star tracks. The former might as well be the anthem for our generation, and the allusions in this song are perfect and endless. You can find new things every time you listen. The latter provides another great look at how music genres are created and die, as well as how the music industry operates. With a fake band, Hearts That Hate, providing a generic emo chorus between verses, this is a Lars classic.

In between these tracks, Lars shows off his nerdy side full-force in "Space Game," has a much more serious hip-hop track with Ill-Bill in "The Dialogue," and "Internet Relationships" analyzes the problems Lars sees with the current issues of internet dating and the internet taking away our personal communication.

"If I Had a Time Machine, That Would Be Fresh" is really old-school Lars, being just a very silly song around a minute in length. "Six Degrees of Kurt Cobain" is interesting on the first listen, but loses its appeal after a few times.

A few tracks hold this back from being a five star album, but for longstanding fans, it's a great piece of work, showing more of the artist behind the songs, while still offering the clever looks at our society that you'd expect form Lars. It's loaded with allusions, and it's as catchy as Lars has always been. Just give up on trying to be cool and give this album a try. If you get it, it's well worth it.


People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - From Here to Eternity: LiveNOFX - Wolves in Wolves' ClothingThe Clash - London CallingAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityMy Chemical Romance - The Black ParadeA Wilhelm Scream - RuinerAgainst All Authority - The Restoration of Chaos & OrderRise Against - Siren Song Of The Counter CultureAgainst Me! - The Disco Before the BreakdownGreg Graffin - Cold as the Clay

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
ABedForLiars (September 4, 2006)

This album has so much funny parts, but then there is those boring parts too. Either way, MC Lars is the shit.

Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

its not that he isnt good but the sound of his voice is too annoying

mattramone (July 27, 2006)

MC Total Fresh is the shit.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

"im black. not all the way. not enuff to stop me from constantly answering questions about my race. i grew up listenin 2 hip hop. at 12 i found bad religion. i listen to rap and rock but this guy is so fucking white and annoyin he needs his ass backhanded"

your so black and judgemental you need to be beatdown

doesnt sound to rational now does it?

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

im black. not all the way. not enuff to stop me from constantly answering questions about my race. i grew up listenin 2 hip hop. at 12 i found bad religion. i listen to rap and rock but this guy is so fucking white and annoyin he needs his ass backhanded

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

MC Lars is an outsider, pretending to be an insider.

That's why he's a tool.

although i think his music is shit, how exactly is he pretending to be an "insider" what songs does he have about growing up in the ghetto and being in a gang?

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

Your ability to miss the point is unsurpassed my friend.

MC Lars is an outsider, pretending to be an insider.

That's why he's a tool. Not race, or class, or anything else.

It's really fucking simple.

Deadpan (July 26, 2006)

Fuck, I forgot to add this at the end:

Maybe hip-hop started out as an expression of life in the inner city. But you'd have to be some kind of moron to think that's all it ever could and should be. Hip hop has been used as a means to explore political and emotional messages just the way any other music genre has, and when a lot of the commercial side of it has deterirated into essentially meaningless trash, which, if anything, is further away from the original form than this particular detractor apparently is, according to you. It's only authentic as the intention behind it.

Deadpan (July 26, 2006)

Just because you didn't have the luck of being born a brother in the hood doesn't mean you shouldn't be allowed to speak out on a subject that you're actually concerned about that. I mean, it doesn't take Chuck D to tell you that 50 Cent is full of shit, the same way you don't need Ian fucking Mackaye to tell you that My Chemical Romance are a fucking waste of oxygen.

Essentially what you're saying is that no matter your understanding of a subject, you're only allowed to comment on it if you fit the stereotype. So you're saying that a black kid from harlem isn't allowed to play classical music now? Because he didn't grow up around fucking Beethoven and Mozart afficionados? Because saying that a white, Jewish guy who might actually be intelligent enough to pay attention to what's wrong with something isn't allowed to make hip-hop or comment on it is pretty much the same fucking thing. Way to be a borderline racist there.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

moronic class snobbery?

You missed the point.

"authentic" hip hop is an expression of life in the innercity. Thats where hip hop started.

Have to be working class to make music? Did I fucking say that?

Of course not, you dolt.

The point here is that MC Lars is so far removed from the roots of hip hop that he has little authority to speak on what is "authentic" or not. Leave that shit to Chuck D.

benz (July 26, 2006)

MC Lars is really bad. Easily the worst of the joke rappers. And I would know.


Deadpan (July 26, 2006)

To elaborate: way to miss the fucking point, you tool.

Authenticity in music has nothing to do with class background, it has to do with the subject matter. Anyone who simply raps about bitches and hoes and how much of a fucking gangsta they are all the time is just as bad as an upperclass kid pretending they've lived in the gutter all their life. I mean, seriously, what kind of moronic class snobbery do you buy into? Has this guy ever recorded a song about how fucking tough life in the hood is? As far as I know (since I've never heard of him before), I'll wager no.

I really can't get over how fucking stupid that is. I mean, honestly... it's just unbelievable.

Deadpan (July 26, 2006)

"MC Lars is a fucking tool.

He stands on stage and talks about how inauthentic hip hop and punk rock is.

Umm, hello asswipe, you're a rich Jewish kid born in Berkeley who went to Stanford.

Yeah man, rap don't get more authentic than Stanford."

What the fuck? Since when did someone have to be working class to make fucking music? You fucking snob.

telegraphrocks (July 26, 2006)

I got this yesterday and was pretty un-impressed. And that fucker from Bowling For Soup on that one song??? Who the fuck let's that guy touch a microphone?

feeeding5000 (July 26, 2006)

This would be good if he was schizophrenic.

miniblindbandit (July 26, 2006)

oops. Mahatma. Spelling errors with Gandhi's title is bad karma. I hope I don't come back as a rat.

miniblindbandit (July 26, 2006)

I like MC Chris.

"Like Mohatma Gandhi followed by a hoard of hotties or the feds on the trail of a Mr. John Gotti. I'm sound wave tsunami. Vocal oragami. Hi-jack the mic and it's not like anyone can stop me."

Plus he's on Aqua Teens a lot and played Hesh on Sea Lab so that makes him pretty darn cool in my book.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

MC Lars is a fucking tool.

He stands on stage and talks about how inauthentic hip hop and punk rock is.

Umm, hello asswipe, you're a rich Jewish kid born in Berkeley who went to Stanford.

Yeah man, rap don't get more authentic than Stanford.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

You lost me at Bowling for Soup.


muskawo_ (July 25, 2006)

Well I'm not gonna try to be too cool to like this album.

I think MC Lars is awesome cause he's joking and pays out loads of shit.

Yeah, there should be an MC Lars song paying out himself though.

Generic Crunk Rap is awesome.

Is Lars a poor mans Atom? Yeah, but hey, I need a change from the rehashed emo/screamo/metalcore whatever bands that are a dime a dozen. Who said there can only be one guy ever that makes nerdy/punk/rap songs?

C'mon guys, have some fun.

stevejonestherealbones (July 25, 2006)

The only bigger gimmick than this shit is being black.

hahaha, el oh el, if i may say so myself

- jones the bones

stevejonestherealbones (July 25, 2006)

but can he take on a slightly harder target than Hot Topic?

yeah, he should take on harder topics, like making fun of MC Lars

hah, naw, jk dante.

seriosuly this guy has such shitty songs

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

....utter shite.......

capitalist_pig (July 25, 2006)

The only bigger gimmick than this shit is being black.

DenBez (July 25, 2006)

Some of the worst shit I've ever heard. Guy's lyrics try way to hard and fall flat, totally unfunny, and the music itself is lame as all hell. You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger Atom & His Package fan than me, and this is a fucking insult.

Hey Lars! Giant lists of things that aren't punk rock aren't punk rock!

Mute98 (July 25, 2006)

utter shit

William_David (July 25, 2006)

Dante, I'll agree that Hot Topic is a very easy target, but there are a lot more things that he gets into in his music than Hot Topic.

kirbypuckett (July 25, 2006)

3. So is this totally different than his work with The Bastards?

Best one today!

- Kirby

superdude (July 25, 2006)

This review was pretty good, but here's how I'd make it better:

1. It sure took them a long time to get this soundtrack out.

2. Why MC Lars? Isn't Paul Simon singing all the songs?

3. So is this totally different than his work with The Bastards?

kirbypuckett (July 25, 2006)

This is not good. I cannot believe people enjoy this -- even slightly.

Also, it is nothing like Atom & His Package! BLASPHEMY!

- Kirby

danperrone (July 25, 2006)

people like this crap? yikes

SalsaShark (July 25, 2006)

The problem here is that he has some good ideas (The whole "post-punk laptop hip-hop" or whatever thing), but he has really bad execution. Alll of the beats are so canned and uninspiring that all of the songs sound the same. Plus, the lyrics are occasionally not funny. At all. They are sort of interesting in an "Oh, that's unusual" way but they don't amount to funny. He has potential to be really biting but instead takes on easy targets and doesn't say funny things (I consider typically "funny" lyrics to be stuff like Guttermouth or the Bloodhound Gang, for two examples). Hearts That Hate was definitely amusing when I first heard it, though.

I haven't heard this new album (I'm speaking based on when I saw him live opening for....ugh....Bowling For Soup). Maybe he's improved.

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

Poor mans Atom and His Package, fuck this guy, his music sucks, it's not funny and it's not listenable, unlike Atoms music.

rubyx (July 25, 2006)

Album of the year.

dadudebob (July 25, 2006)

awesome stuff, one of my faves this year so far, awesome songs, good commentary on current events, rap girl seems like crap girl though, i like everything else though

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

I hate that Hot Topic song possibly more than anything. It's embarrassingly bad. And this is how I came to dislike MC Lars.

Dante3000 (July 25, 2006)

It's like someone took Atom and His Package and mixed it with a healthy dose of ass.
Seriously, I don't mind that he sounds like Atom, or that his lyrics suck, or that his beats are awful but can he take on a slightly harder target than Hot Topic?
Next week MC Lars with "Ants Are not Large Animals" and "Burning money doesn't make corn".
Stating the obvious doesn't make ground breaking music...just boring songs.

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