CU Provocateur Max Karson's New Rap Album

Max Karson, the University of Colorado student whose attempts at satire have made him a press darling/whipping boy over the past couple of years, has no back-down in him. After an essay he wrote about Asians sparked an uproar that's put CU's Campus Press publication in a good many crosshairs (click here and here to learn more), he could have run for cover, hunkering down until after the media storm subsided. Instead, he's recorded a new rap album, Heavy Flow, which juxtaposes his scabrously tongue-in-cheek worldview with rhythms and beats.

The latest recording, accessible on a page of his website,, sounds a bit better than a previous effort that's still online -- at least from a production standpoint. As for Karson's vocals, they aren't exactly at a Jay-Z level, or even a Flo Rida one -- and he doesn't pretend otherwise. "The raps themselves haven't really improved all that much," he notes in an e-mail.

And the words? Although some of them allude to earlier controversies, including one sketched out in a 2006 Message entry, the themes apply equally to many of the contretemps with which he's been involved. For example, "Fifteen Minutes" finds him issuing self-deprecating proclamations such as, "Fuck you, the hype will never die down/You know me, I'm always around/Somebody's mentionin' me/Oh please, pay attention to me." He gets more ambitious on "School Shootings," which attempts to explore campus violence from multiple points of view. But the highpoint is "Bad Guy," the closest thing to an actual good-sounding tune among his latest offerings, and the most timely. Early on, he insists that "I don't care about nobody but myself." Even so, he seems to be somewhat concerned about his public persona when he snaps, "May God have mercy on the next person who says I'm racist/I don't give a shit whether you're black, brown or you're Caucasian/Or just Asian."

The "just" part of this last line won't win over those who saw hateful intent in Karson's Asian essay, which he says was intended to decry prejudice rather than celebrate it. Whether he's misunderstood or not, however, he clearly doesn't intend to go quietly. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts