As MC Lars released an emotional video for “Twenty-three”, he took a time-out to talk to Angus Marriott.
For MC Lars, the decision to premier the video for new single “Twenty-three” on the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention is one that hits close to the heart.
Despite his persona as a happy-go-lucky laptop rapper, this latest song reflects a darker period in his life, where he was personally affected by suicide.
“That was a really messed up time, when my friend in College killed himself.” He says. Even now, Lars, real name Andrew Nielsen, appears uncomfortable talking about the subject. What had been a relaxed pre-show interview has suddenly become a tense affair, with the rapper quite visibly on edge.
The video, which sees Lars surrounded by pictures of those who have committed suicide, reinforces the emotive nature of the song, and Lars describes the filming process as “really emotional and cathartic.”
“ The photos you see with the names and dates were friends and family members of fans and it was so intense to be that close to people who have gone through the same things Pat’s family and I have.
“During the shoot it was really hard to just keep filming, all the emotion you see coming from me is real, all the tears were really there.”
As the subject moves on to the internal debates that surrounded the writing of this song, we start to see a little relief, and the conversation flows. “When you’re known as a guy who has fun with his beats, of course it’s hard to get this serious sound across,” he says, “but this was so close to my heart, it just flowed.
“Even after writing the song I wasn’t too sure about putting it on This Gigantic Robot Kills. Then I heard the chorus vocals, sung by Amie Miriello… that was what made the song for me.”
Given his educational background (Lars graduated from Stanford University in 2005, and spent a year at Oxford during this period), this sobering tangent does perhaps draw parallels to more classical poets, a comparison that certainly seems to draw more enthusiasm.
“I suppose when you strip down all the layers of music, hip-hop is just poetry. You still need to consider iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets, things like that. As for classical poetry… I think poetry needs a message, and if Twenty-three delivers my message, then I’ll be proud.”
His message is twofold. The first, articulated in the song through the line “Suicide’s an answer but it wasn’t the solution”, mirrors that of the AFPS, who refer to suicide as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
“Pat committed suicide because his world crashed in on him- killing himself was not the right answer.” Lars says.
The second message from Lars, while perhaps a little more obvious, is nonetheless a powerful one. As a result, we see this as Lars’ final word on the subject:“We need to be there for our friends.”