REVIEW: MC Lars – Lars Attacks!

Artist: MC Lars
Album: Lars Attack!
Genre: Indie Rap
Label: Horris Records

I’ve always been a big hip hop fan, not in the sense that most people think, but I’ve been a huge fan of a few select artists over the years. Of course, when people hear I like hip hop, they automatically assume I’m talking about Lil Wayne, and the like, but I subscribe to the idea that stringing a bunch of weak and obscure metaphors and allegories doesn’t necessarily make someone a hip hop genius. On the other hand, I have loved the work of Atmosphere and Sage Francis for more than a decade now, and in more recent years, P.O.S., and other artists at the forefront of the next generation of underground hip hop. Now, artists like the aforementioned have attracted less than attractive genre classifications like “indie rap”, and while everyone might not be into the inherent pretentiousness indicated by most things labeled “indie”, I guess you could say that’s what I’m into. However, one of these artists that I’ve done a good job of avoiding over the years is MC Lars. I have my reasons for straying away from his music, probably because he coined the term “post-punk laptop rap”, being called “nerdcore”, or the UK tour he did with 3Oh!3, which does not really help give any underground hip hop artists any street cred.

But I’m afraid my prejudices were not only completely unfounded, but I really couldn’t have been more wrong, as well. As is the usual, I’m afraid. Now, I’m still not convinced MC Lars can stand up against the likes of Slug from Atmosphere, but I also don’t think it’s fair to write him off as a novelty act just yet. There appears to be a lot of thought, and a lot of heart that goes into his music, and that’s what makes a respectable musician in my mind. So now that I’ve been able to disprove some of my false preconceived notions, it was time for me to give his new album, Lars Attacks!, a solid shot, to see if it can back up the potential of MC Lars, as an individual. After looking over the tracklist though, I was pretty sure the music wouldn’t have any problem completing that task. After seeing guest spots from the likes of Sage Francis, Mac Lethal, and KRS-One to name a few, I had high hopes. Legends of that caliber wouldn’t put their name on just anything. Anything that those guys were not only willing to back up, but be a part of, was bound to be extremely impressive.

The first thing that became immediately apparent about Lars Attacks!, before the vocals even came in, when I started listening to “Going Back To Brooklyn” is that, the beats are fantastic; extremely well done, much better – in my opinion – than the beats made by artists like Kanye West or Pharrell, who charge hundreds of thousands of dollars per beat. However, when the vocals did come in, there was no denying the fact that the vocal tone lacked a lot of the power that the beats had. The lyrics themselves were brilliantly written, but the more subtle aspects; the vocal register and the enunciation, donn’t exactly sound as mature as the rest of the music would suggest. It seems as though his voice really plays into the whole “nerdcore” thing, which may be the point. However, that little complaint wasn’t really enough to detract much from the overall quality of the album. In fact, it actually worked as an important factor in a few songs, such as on “Art Of Darkness”, an excellent track, where his vocals provided a perfect juxtaposition to the mature tones from the guest MC, Sage Francis. But then again, it’s hard to not be impressed by a song with Sage Francis; this track alone should definitely contribute a lot to his credibility amongst the underground hip hop group.

In fact, Lars Attacks! as a whole should really gain MC Lars some favor in that very selective crowd, once given a proper chance. He might not ever really reach the legendary status of Slug – I wouldn’t be surprised if no one did, really – and he might not be the same sort of new generation hopeful as P.O.S., who is really just working on a different level than most, neither of these are really negative comments. But MC Lars is definitely not just another nerd with a laptop, trying to play in to the Warped Tour crowd.

Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell
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