Like everybody that grew up in the 80s, mc chris has a special place in his heart for Ghostbusters. And GI Joe. And comics. And hip-hop. Unlike everybody that grew up in the 80s, Chris figured out how to put them all together and get paid in full.
Even if this is the first time you’ve heard of the mc chris you have seen his work before. As an animator, writer, and actor on Sealab 2021, Chris helped build the cartoon juggernaut that is Adult Swim. Then in the middle of all this, he lent his lyrical flow to not one, but two different Adult Swim shows – first as himself (though unseen) performing Fett’s Vette on Sealab and then again as MC Peepants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
It was the strong fan reaction to those songs that led Chris to ditch the day job, bet it all on rap, and spin the wheel. 8 years later, the gamble worked and his power has grown huge as he tours regularly, is just about to release his sixth album, and is getting props from Marvel superheroes.
If he gets any stronger, he may have to be stopped.
mc chris took a moment to talk to Proton Charging about movies, comics, music, life, and how the Oakland hip-hop scene is the reason his zombie-themed album doesn’t reference Ghostbusters.
Let’s start with hip-hop. You and I (and a lot of people our age I’d imagine) ran smack into hip-hop via groups like De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Tribe Called Quest. Do you remember when the genre hooked you?
1989 my brothers got [Public Enemy’s] fear of a black planet and [De La Soul’s] three feet high is rising. and that was it.
I like my hip-hop with pop culture references, not all the time, but some good solid ones to engage me in the lyrics. It’s something you do well, and have a nice balance for, but I find that it’s often assumed in press coverage, that your music is reference heavy – maybe because your break-out was a giant love letter to Star Wars with Fett’s Vette. But really, your music is way more grounded than just being a string of references.
When you write, how do pop references find their way into your lyrics? Is it natural or do you find yourself working to include or not include them too much?
my references are chosen at random but there’s definitely a leaning towards the 80’s because mc chris really, for me is a second childhood
You’re nearly done your new album, “mc chris is dead”. You’ve talked a bit about trying to continue to evolve with this album – where are you evolving to, musically?
the music and my ability has evolved but i’ve also learned to be more honest and not hide behind being clever, because yes you’re clever but what are you saying? so this record i tried to be a little bit more honest about myself and who i am. so the record is about pizza, masturbation and ninjas. the music is made by a different crew though so it will hopefully sound very new and different, but not a drastic change from the old style.
And how come the De La Soul homage title “Six Feet Under and Rising” got dropped?
the title was just a red herring to get people talking.
Sneaky. You said in an interview that the album was going to be monster-themed (the title certainly suggests that), but more recently you said it’s more comic influenced. What can you tell us about the album now that you’re getting close to completing it?
it’s zombie themed with a smattering of post apocalyptic survivor fiction thrown in there. there’s definitely a comic influence and goth influence and all that research i did on monsters was just part of the process. things like Van Helsing and Monster Squad turned me off, and that prolly steered me away from making it to monster oriented.
I’ve heard that you were doing a track about Ghostbusters. Is the GB song still in the running?
no ghostbusters song and i think i heard a song called ghost rider [Ghost Ride It by Mister F.A.B. -ed.] that samples it. we’re working with another song from that soundtrack and we ditched our first effort, but we may try again when we make snobot remixes of the rest of the songs in april.
When you tour, you often like to organize gatherings to go see movies – sometimes old, sometimes new. Back in the Spring of 2007 you took the crowd to go see Ghostbusters at the Alamo Drafthouse. For those of us that weren’t there, can you tell us a little bit about the Ghostbusters showing – I heard one of the local prop builders put in an appearance in full uniform.
yes there was a ghostbuster at the screening. it was awesome, mainly because they bring food to your seat at alamo. but i told everyone to cheer rick moranis the whole movie, so it kinda became all about him and does he get the girl. (he doesnt)
How did these chris/fan showings get started?
i think we did it in eugene with revenge of the sith. and we’ve done them in texas, philly and florida since. i cant wait for the next crop.
Do you remember this first time you saw Ghostbusters and do you remember what it was about it that imprinted itself onto your brain so that you’d still be thinking about it, writing about it, etc., 20+ years later? Did you ever move into the cartoon later on?
i was just about the movies. and i was already into stripes, meatballs, caddyshack. i worshiped that stuff so to get spielbergian awesomeness, but with my favorite comedians was a dream come true. i loved every second of it. i’ll always remember how the crowd roared when murray got slimed. it’s a happy place.
I know you’re a gamer. Any hopes, dreams, predictions, demands for the just announced Ghostbusters video game?
i cant wait for the game. i wish they hadn’t been so down on the test. because the test got everyone stoked. from the pics i’ve seen they’re doing it right. with the same actors and a new script. i’m worried aykroyd will focus too much on big themes like a hell version of new york and not enough on actually BUSTING GHOSTS. because that’s what it should be about, ghostbusters in haunted houses busting ghosts and ripping up shit. kinda like how they do resident evil movies all wrong because it isnt just about a cop in a mansion filled with zombies. they always have to go to the lab or whatever. it’s the little stories. hopefully they go that route and there’s more cases than bosses.
If you’re game, can I check your pop-culture favs? I know you’re a busy guy, but what are you making time for?
lost, secret invasion, mad men, the ranger’s apprentice, the election, oh and i just discovered the wire. which rules. i love long stretched out plots like harry potter, star wars, lord of the rings. that’s why secret invasion has me more stoked than anything. and hawkeye wears an mc chris shirt in avenger’s #39. that rules.
[New Avengers #39 hits the stands March 26th. Buy two.]
What games are you playing?
oblivion, rainbowsix vegas 2, mario galaxy, call of duty four. i finally upgrade from 13 inches to 42 inches, so im going back and looking at all the details i missed. i can play marvel ultimate alliance now and dead rising.
Who’s a Skrull? Bonus question, you seem to be a strong Marvel fan, with Hawkeye being a favorite character. Why Marvel? Why Hawkeye?
marvel because they had gi joe and it just stuck. my brother had batman so i never got into dc. i kinda wasn’t allowed to. from gi joe i got into their marvel titles like west coast avengers, fantastic four, spiderman and hulk. i got a well rounded education on the marvel universe. i liked hawkeye because his power was his bow and arrow and the trick shots he could do. i never liked costume or the fact that he was blonde but i there’s still tons of mystery there for me. i need to read about his thunderbolt years.
i really liked michael clayton and the savages. cronenberg is at his peak. im looking forward to the marvel produced movies because it’s their first endeavors and supposedly they’re building the marvel universe, meaning all the movies will be tied. that means avengers movie, which means hawkeye. i also am looking forward to new indy and batman. i cant wait to see two face. i heard they filmed it twice. more than anything i’m stoked on the gi joe movie. cant wait to see snake eyes kick some face.
You’ve been on the road a lot this past year, and you’ve got a full plate in oh eight. Do you have time for TV?
yeah lost and wire right now are my thing. and i love the news. meet the press, face the nation. the cable news is so histrionic and over the top. i prefer old dudes with bowties on cbs news sunday morning.
In your blog you seem to be constantly reading. What are you reading now?
ranger’s apprentice [by John Flanagan -ed.]. i love bow and arrows and even if i see it on the book jacket i just pick it up and buy it. im also reading tale of two cities and a bio on nc wyeth.
What’s next for mc?
im in two new shows on adult swim. fat guy stuck in internet as well as cheyenne cinnamon and the fantabulous unicorn of sugar town candy fudge with neko case, mf doom and tpain. i play a gummi bear. im excited to be animated again. besides that. i have my new album mcchris is dead coming out in may, then i tour all summer, joining up with warped tour late june. i play that for two months, then tour in september and then hopefully chill and get to work on a cartoon and a book and album six.
In the past I’ve gotten to ask writers and artists about their influences and their advice to ghostheads out there looking to do the same thing. You’re a quadruple threat of artist, voice acting, writing, and music – And what kind of advice can you give the kids comin’ up behind you?
dont wait for anyone. you should already have your cartoon on youtube and you should have a website built around that cartoon. dont wait for approval or a green light. just get going. learn photoshop and flash. kblao ur famous.
Personally, what kind of things were influences on you, that inspired you to jump into music with both feet?
i just made some friends at nyu that were in punk bands and they got me to come out of my shell and record something. and i liked rap so i did that. beer helped too. but i think throughout the years i’ve always just been true to who i am. some call that nerdy. my high school friends laugh at that concept because they hardly think of me in that way or have they ever. i just try to make good mc chris music and stick to my guns. i am influenced by all things. from people to pop culture to all the traveling i do. it becomes the music and im pretty lucky it all worked out like it has.
Last question – Janine or Dana?
ill take janine. most of the girls i date seem possessed as is.
As a longtime fan, PC is recommending that everyone interested in some intelligent rap should jump into the world of mc chris with both feet, possibly by starting at his website, mcchris.com, where you can check out his music and dozens of fan-generated remixes.
mc will be in a town near you, soon – check his sites for more info!