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MC Lars: Funny Hip-Hop, With 'Weird Al' In Tow

Northern California rapper MC Lars tells bits of his life story in "True Player for Real." He boasts of graduating from Stanford University, though he laments that his English degree hasn't gotten him far professionally. He claims skills with women, although some probably aren't impressed that he still lives with his parents. He speculates that his music is as hot as anything on the radio, but admits that without his laptop, he'd be in trouble.

Though he probably wouldn't say it himself, in reality MC Lars — whose real name is Andrew Nielsen — is one of the brightest lights in a hip-hop subgenre called "nerdcore," populated mainly by Caucasian emcees rapping about science fiction and computer software. Lars is one of the most likable, well-rounded members of the bunch, and he displays why on "True Player for Real," which references everyone from Charles Bukowski to John Peel to Descartes to tasered University of Florida student Andrew Meyer.

"True Player for Real" gets a bit heavy on the self-awareness — particularly when Lars alerts the listener to an upcoming key change before the final chorus — but for the most part, its meta qualities add to the fun. The vocal and guitar backing of Brendan B. Brown (of the Long Island pop-punk group Wheatus) helps, as does the infectious accordion hook played by Lars' childhood hero, "Weird Al" Yankovic. Yankovic is still making compellingly hilarious music, of course. But should he ever fall off, Lars would make a worthy successor.

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Ben Westhoff