Hip Hop with Heart

May/June 2010

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Hip Hop with Heart

Performing as MC Lars, Andrew Nielsen is known for his brainy brand of hip-hop, weaving literary references (a nod to his English degree) into his rhymes. But recently he partnered with the American Heart Association to create a track that's more visceral. Nielsen, '05, and frequent collaborator Kristine Flaherty, '07 (aka K.Flay), wrote and produced the anthem for the heart association's Be the Beat campaign, aimed at teaching 12- to 15-year olds the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
"A lot of what I do has an educational component," Nielsen says. He is also producing a song and a music video about depression awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Be the Beat theme song, called "That's CPR," has 100 beats per minute—the optimal rate for chest compressions, but a tricky tempo for a rap. "Hip-hop usually is 80 beats per minute; drum and bass is 160," Nielsen explains. "But I had fun with it, I was able to play with the meter of the flow."

"It's a funny song. It describes situations, hanging out, where someone collapses, and what to do," says Flaherty, who added backing vocals on the chorus and also worked on the drums.

The result is a tune catchy enough to be an earworm. But that's the idea, says Nielsen. "If you have the chorus in your head 'Don't just stand there! Call 911/Push hard and fast (where?)/In the center of the chest (that's CPR!)' you can save someone's life."

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