In the gospel according to 23-year-old MC Lars, Hot Topic is not punk rock, Internet dating is totally weird, “music was a product, now it is a service,” and emo and crunk are frustratingly formulaic.
MC Lars — educated in the school of Ivy knocks, Stanford and Oxford — is the Ad Rock of his generation, spitting rhymes and cultural observations that are both absurdly comical and strangely astute.
In its 14 songs, The Graduate features more pop culture references than a Best Week Ever marathon. The opening track, “Download this Song” (featuring Jared Reddick of Bowling for Soup) is a biting deconstruction of the music industry, with the derisive chorus “Hey, Mr. Record Man, the joke’s on you / Running your label like it was 1982 / Hey, Mr. Record Man, your system can’t compete / It’s the new artist model, file transfer complete.”
In fact, a sizeable chunk of The Graduate is dedicated to taking jabs at the music industry, and to prove he knows what he’s talking about, Lars tries his hand at method rhyming. On “Generic Crunk Rap” Lars deconstructs the formula of the Lil’ Jon-popularized style, spitting lines like “rhyme about my gun…phrase about my clique…gratuitous rap about being crunk,” to the beat of a crunk track. For “Signing Emo,” Lars throws in full emo choruses from the fictional band, Hearts That Hate. He even dabbles in self-deprecation on “21 Concepts,” when he nods to Jay-Z with the chorus “I got 21 concepts but a hit ain’t one.”
With intelligent rhymes about why downloading rocks, Nickelback sucks, and youth is kind, Lars may be preaching to the choir, but at least he has a pulpit to stand behind.