Back in July, I was able to sit down and chat with MC Lars for a bit while I was covering Warped Tour. It was interesting to meet someone
with both an English degree and a full-time job (and yeah, I’m aware I’ve made that joke before. But if you’re just reading it now and you laughed, ignore this; I’m hilarious and my material is always new). Anyway, after a few other questions, I asked: “So, new album? What can we expect?” to which he replied, I quote loosely, “Well, it’ll be about all the same stuff the other hardcore gangsters rap about – I’ve got a song about Roger Rabbit, some Star Wars and Game of Thrones stuff, there’s a rap about Hans Moleman from The Simpsons – the basics.”
I’ve been a fan of Lars’ music for a while, and he’s been one of the more creative artists around ever since he got started, so what surprised me about what he was saying wasn’t the content, but how badly we all needed to hear this record.
“Where Ya Been, Lars?” starts things off with a little insight into the recent doings of our favorite laptop rapper – touring, recording, producing, prepping an educational kids’ TV show featuring robots
and spiders teaching history, etc. etc. Again, the basics. He introduces us to his fourth album as the opener slides into “Zombie T-Rex,” an attack anthem packed with a scream-filled chorus and a hook resembling Matchbook Romance’s “Monsters.” Whether that’s intentional or not, it’s what I hear, and it is extremely fitting, because the track is a beast.
With the news broadcast at the track’s conclusion depicting the reanimated prehistoric behemoth’s assault on San Francisco, trashing coffee shops and food trucks, I was expecting the sequel to “Hipster Girl” to show up next. Before we learn more about the next chapter of our BoHo adventurer, “Sublime With Rome (Is Not the Same Thing as Sublime)” lends hard support to the idea that it is always better to burn out bright than to fade away. Sometimes you’ve gotta know when to hang it up, boys.
I was listening to this album in my car the other day, and “Forgot About Jack” came on. Since it’s November and still seventy degrees, because of course it is, I had the windows down. A group of youths (Ugh. Youths.) were hanging out on the sidewalk, and I saw them nodding their heads to the beat. Well, joke’s on them, because little did they know they were LEARNING. MUAHHAHAHAHA. Take that, hooligans! Go read a book!
That being said, the literary element in Lars’ music has always been what sets him aside from other artists for me. Hell, my senior thesis was on Moby Dick and I ended up dissecting “Ahab” in a final presentation, so Lars pretty much got me my degree. On “Never Afraid,” he and Watsky coauthor a trip through their storybook memories. You get to hear the two rappers tell you how they became
who they are, and you listen to them carrying their childhoods with them throughout their adult lives.
You can’t argue that he’s nerdcore nobility and the CEO of Lit-Hop, but when Lars trims down on the allusions and references and opens up as an artist, he really flexes his songwriting muscles and shows he can run with the best of them.
Closer “Triforce” is one of these examples. Earlier I mentioned myself driving around and catching the ear of a few kids, but this time, this one was for me. An empty road coated with leaves, in my ’99 Jetta
that was on its last legs a year ago but still rumbling along, and the soft
“Power, wisdom, courage” chorus coming through the speakers. Acting as an open letter to old friends, there’s a harsh balance between looking at the past through a rose tint and at the present in stark grey realism.
Two choruses in, it clicked in my head that, more likely than not, things were going to get harsher. I was bracing myself for another memorial to Pat Wood, Lars’ college roommate that inspired the beautiful “Twenty-Three,” which ruined me the first time I heard it. But, rather, he catches up with another friend – Andrew. Hearing an artist’s stage persona call out from the speakers to their place in the real world was a strong way to close an album and a sharp piece of writing.
For me, there has been a lot of music to come out from a handful of my favorite artists this year, and it has all been fighting for my attention. So, for a record to come along and pull focus away from others, it’s gotta be something special. Like the title alludes to, The Zombie Dinosaur LP is a force that can’t be stopped.
Release Date: November 6th, 2015
Run Time: ~41 minutes
Check Out: “Triforce,” “Never Afraid,” “Party With Lars”
1. Where Ya Been, Lars?
2. Zombie T-Rex
3. Sublime With Rome (is Not the Same Thing as Sublime)
4. Hipster Mom
5. Dragon Blood
6. If I Were A Jedi
7. Never Afraid
8. The Top 10 Things to Never Say on a First Date
9. The Ballad of Hans Moleman
10. The Dip
11. Party With Lars
12. Forgot About Jack
Written by Eric Riley