By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
"When we sat around and talked about starting this group," says Mighty Clyde, "we wanted to make hip-hop music like the stuff that I really grew up listening to—we wanted to make hip hop for boomboxes, not headphones." Clyde is the MC in MC/VL, and he's sitting next to the VL, Vicious Lee, in a White Castle on a Sunday afternoon. Their DJ, Professor BX, sits across from them. If you were trying to pick out the table hosting an old school hip-hop group, you'd be forgiven for passing over the shorty with the beard, the tall drink of water, and the dude with the mohawk—even if White Castle is mostly empty.
It's only now, some 40 minutes into the conversation, that we're actually getting around to talking about music. So far, the discussion has mostly hewed to the proper way to eat chicken rings (Vicious Lee: "Wait, didn't you get any honey mustard for the man?" Mighty Clyde: "No man, I roll with ketchup." Lee [disgusted]: "We have to wine and dine this man!"), arguments over the quality of Taco Bell ("Dude: Chili Cheese Burrito is like the Eucharist all in one," claims Clyde), and health concerns at certain sub shops ("I'm all about stoners in the workforce," Clyde says. "Get them doing something—keep them off the streets and out of trouble. They're cordial enough, but handling cold cuts with no gloves? That's where I draw the line, sir."), but somehow we've worked our way around to music.
Their 2007 debut record, Stance, came dressed in an Adidas tracksuit, a fun-loving ode to Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, and all things Yo! MTV Raps. From the chopped-up AC/DC mishmash of "The Guarantee" to the not-Led-Zeppelin-sampling "Moby Dick" (despite what, ahem, certain writers with two thumbs might have written elsewhere), it was a defiantly joyous, resolutely unserious, Technicolor album that managed to avoid falling into straight parody. Since forming, though, they've found themselves sharing bills not with Atmosphere, Doomtree, and Big Quarters, but with bands like Birthday Suits, Spider Fighter, and Vampire Hands—bands they name-check on "Get Up!," an unreleased track that will see the light of day on this year's Twin Town High compilation.
"I personally feel much more connected to rock," says Vicious Lee. "People are being so imaginative with the bills they put together. It's the only way we can survive: that there are bands who are willing to put together bills that don't make sense on paper and all the kids come out and they love it."
Their love for a more innocent time in hip hop is earnest, but that's one of the problems with comedy: It never gets taken seriously. "I think the one thing that we've always battled is: Yeah, of course we're cracking jokes," Lee says. "We're not making any grand political statement and we are having fun, but fun is worth something, too. The words 'goofy' and 'ironic' pop up a lot and I think if something is fun, it tends to be sort of demeaned."
For instance, you never see a comedy win Best Picture at the Oscars.
"That's exactly it. I think one in the history of film," Lee continues, but of course they can't get too serious: The train's about to run off the tracks. "That's interesting: people's relation to things—"
"Porky's?" Clyde interjects, and Lee answers right back: "Uh, no. I think it was Weekend at Bernie's 2."
"That one is good," replies Clyde, mock thoughtfully. "I mean, the special effects in it—" And they're off, cracking wise on another tag-team tangent.