With all its larger-than-life imagery and big money flights of fancy, it’s no wonder that hip-hop has literally become more and more animated. Metal-faced rapper MF Doom has collaborated with aural zoologist Danger Mouse and the Adult Swim crew for the forthcoming album by DangerDoom, but the original pencil-drawn rhyme-spitter is MC Chris.
Also known as his alter ego MC P Pants (the diaper-wearing, rapping spider who occasionally drops in on Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and his birth name Chris Ward, MC Chris has taken his squeaky voice, surprisingly smooth flow, and total geek sensibilities to become only MC who brags about getting wedgies and reading X-Men comics. After doing time with the Adult Swim crew, working whacked-out modern classics like Sealab 2021, Chris turned to music full time, and now has a devoted following of animation-loving, video game-playing fans.
MC Chris’ main stock-in-trade are helium-voiced battle raps, but rather than lash out against other rappers or authority figures, he sets his sights on girls who wouldn’t talk to him and bullies who abused him in school. It’s all in good fun — you won’t find any of the borderline-psychotic pathos embedded in Eminem’s revenge fantasies, though like Slim Shady, Chris has a song called “My Name Is” that pretty clearly defines his aesthetic: “When I say white, I don’t mean pink, cuz my skin’s about as white as white out ink / When I step into the sun, I burst into flames, like the Human Torch but with no lives to save.”
The secret weapon on both of MC Chris’ releases (his EP, Knowing is Half the Hassle and the 2004 full-length Eating’s Not Cheating) is producer John Fewell. His low-budget Casio workouts mix sugared-up drums with keyboard honks, video game sound effects, and vocal samples to create a high-energy template for MC Chris’ speedy spitting. In fact, on tracks like “Geek,” the bombast evokes Swizz Beatz at his most melodramatic; elsewhere, Fewell evokes such master beatsmiths as Mannie Fresh and Prince Paul, but he’s never derivative.
MC Chris is a rarity in hip-hop: He’s an MC with legitimate skills who prefers to goof around on just about everything — think of him as the cartoon world’s answer to Ol’ Dirty Bastard (minus the crack addiction, of course). You may thrown down for G-Unit in public, but you know you’ll be putting the plasma on mute and rocking MC Chris jams as your soundtrack to Halo.
MC Chris tour dates: 8/26, Seattle, WA (Easy Street) 8/27, Bellevue, WA (Penny Arcade Expo)9/3, Atlanta, GA (Drunken Unicorn)9/10, New Britain, CT (Central Connecticut State)9/13, New York, NY (CMJ)9/29, Northampton, MA (Iron Horse)
Link: MC Chris official site