Literature and hip-hop collide with MC Lars. It’s his thing.
And it's been his thing for the rapper's 13-year career. The Stanford and Oxford educated artist from Oakland has been lecturing on the similarities between hip-hop and literature, like Shakespeare, across the world — including a TEDx Talk on the topic in late 2012.
He's bringing those ideas — alongside a vibrant live show — to his performance at Wooly's on Nov. 2.
"Someone like Shakespeare is very hip-hop because his whole artistic vision was about taking timeless themes and making them very current," Lars, also known as Andrew Nielsen, said. "He dealt with a lot of themes, like power and money and sex and family and the stuff you hear in a lot of mainstream rap still."
He said within his fans he finds people who are into literature but don't listen to rap music, and vice versa. He tries to bring the two elements together at his shows or through lecturing while on tour. Aside from the TEDx Talk, he's lectured at public schools, conferences, college campuses and more.
Through his tenured experience in the studio and on the road, he said he's seen hip-hop become a cultural force, the same way he views genres like jazz, rock and blues.
"Kids today don't remember a time when hip-hop was new and I think that's cool," he said. "It's become one of the primary genres in the pantheon of American culture ... and that's cool."
Lars' new record, "The Zombie Dinosaur LP," harnesses the satirical side of Lars — it comments on topics like the ones mentioned above, while still being fun. Songs have titles like "The Top 10 Things to Never Say on a First Date," "Hipster Mom" and "Forgot About Jack."
The record was funded by a Kickstarter campaign where Lars raised $42,000 and is due out via Lars' own label, Harris Records, Nov. 6. One of the highlight tracks on the release is "The Balland of Hans Moleman," an ode the character off of American staple television show, The Simpsons.
"He's very punk-rock because no matter what happens to him, he keeps coming back," Lars said. "Hans Moleman's kind-of like the undying, quiet good person who's always in the shadows."
Where: Wooly's, 504 E. Locust St.
When: Nov. 2