Geek Chic

Stanford Junior MC Lars Horris may not unseat Eminem, but, with luck, he might be the next "Weird Al"

Truck released Radio Pet Fencing in the U.K. in September 2003 and in the U.S. in January 2004. The disc has its share of groan-inducing moments. Nielsen sounds whiter than Vanilla Ice when using such phrases as "funky fresh flow," and he should be pistol-whipped for suggesting that "compared to me, 50 Cent, your rhymes are a joke." "Sarah" is as mawkish a love song as a teenager could write; the über-obvious "The Séance at Harper's Ferry" could turn anyone off of American history.

Nielsen's humorous tunes, however, rule. He hits pay dirt with kooky one-liners like "Don't panic, even though I'm galvanic/ I'm the only non-Hispanic on the Mexican Titanic" and "I satisfy women like GER's [General Education Requirements]/ I advocate the destruction of SUV cars." And of course there's "Rapbeth," with its escalating beats and its catchy chorus ("double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble/ Fair is foul and foul is fair, we must warn you, Macbeth, beware").

The response to the latter tune was so positive that Nielsen followed it up with "Mr. Raven," an ode to Edgar Allen Poe. Still, the rapper is nervous about being known solely for "literature songs." "It's cool to reference canonized poets, but eventually it will be cooler to not have to do that to get recognized," he says.


With the Marginal Prophets at the "Kabuki Horror Film Fest Benefit"

Thursday, March 18, at 8 p.m.

DJs M3, Mike Frugaletti, and Monkey Man also perform

Tickets are $7


Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F.

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A new three-song demo shows Nielsen moving away from his hip hop background. He samples guitar riffs and choruses from nu-emo bands like Piebald and Brand New for a harder sound closer to the geek-rockers he loves. On "Hurricane Fresh" he speeds up his flow and makes fun of the racial/musical politics that occasionally embroil him: "I take chances, I rhyme, so what?/ I like James Brown and Beyoncé's butt/ Whatever your race I'll Friendster you/ and rent two Spike Lee Netflix, too." "iGeneration" is even better, a hokey protest song for the downloaders and bloggers that has novelty hit written all over it.

But, as previously noted, the world isn't too kind to novelty acts these days. Dr. Demento may get as many submissions as ever, but mainstream hits are few and far between. Established labels want artists with longevity and consistent marketability, and video channels like MTV seldom stray beyond high-profile acts. Also, the increasingly homogenous radio stations don't take chances on comedic material -- if it gets played at all, it's during morning shows.

So Nielsen's chances at a huge hit aren't the best. Nevertheless, he's doing remarkably well. He's being flown to Asbury Park, N.J., for the Skate and Surf Festival in April, he's getting more and more radio play, and his songwriting continues to improve. And just in case he doesn't strike gold, he's got a back-up plan. "I'm going to give it a few years after graduation," Nielsen says, "and then if it doesn't work out, I'll probably go teach English."

Most likely, he'll sing the whole lesson plan.

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