Reviewed by Julian Wilson

M.C. Mars/Letz Cabalaborate

M.C. Mars is to San Francisco as Lou Reed is to New York. In other words, he belongs to the city, knows its every buried secret; after all, would you expect less from somebody who’s been a cab driver for 30 years? Mars has seen and heard it all. Like Reed, Mars writes unflinchingly of drugs and kinky sex and the damage done – in this case, the spectre of AIDS always hovering like a black cloud. Combining hysterically funny spoken-word segments with straightforward yet lyrically sharp hip-hop, Mars sounds nothing like a man who is pushing 60. Yes, you heard me; he’s no spring chicken.

But age brings experience, and Mars has lived a lifetime of memories to share with us all. The bitingly funny “Bob the Fertilizer Salesman” is about a businessman too cheap to pay for a decent hooker so Mars takes him to a crack neighborhood wherein twenty bucks can get you oral sex. Unfortunately, the drug-hungry whore is so ugly that Bob refuses to pay anything more than $5. When she’s insulted by his offer, he throws her out of the cab. You’ll find yourself laughing until it’s over, when you realize that Mars is making a statement about how society uses the sick and needy as garbage, abandoning them to their misery once we’ve gotten what we wanted. “I believe in the dignity of human life,” Mars says on “TV Humor.” Keep that in mind as you listen to the rest of the album, and you will feel the force of Mars’ socio-political messages.