It’s hard to believe that MC Renner—the Scranton, PA rapper known for some things—is set to release his fourth studio album this Friday. Everyone from his mother to strangers on the Internet told him he would be a flash in the pan, but Renner has since proved that he has come for the whole pan.
Renner first broke into the hip-hop scene in 2005 with his hit single “Fast & Furious” from the Herbie: Fully Loaded Original Soundtrack. The song features adlibs from Lindsey Lohan and such meme-orable lines as “I’m faster than you/you can call me Herbie/look at you, you’s a loser/this ain’t a ROLLER DERBY.”
Renner was destined to be a star.
This was, of course, before Renner’s series of bad moves that many cite as the reason his Herbie success was short-lived. There was the recent Seal beef, yes, but Renner is no stranger to other more questionable controversies.
There was the 2007 MTV Awards, where he called collaborator B.o.B my “flat-earther from another birther” before “flat-earther” became the PC word.
There was the 2010 Tony Awards, where Renner showed up uninvited and performed a 10-minute version of his single “Tony the Tiger,” a cereal rap ode where Renner likens his love for Count Chocula cereal to such cringe-worthy racial callbacks as “once you go choco/you can never not know.”
The list goes on. But MC Renner, who named himself after Jeremy Renner—his favorite actor—and not MC Ren—whom he has never heard of, remains undeterred. After dating Nicole Richie for the better part of March, Renner reintroduced himself to the spotlight and is releasing his fourth LP All In, his most personal and political statement yet.
Yes, that’s right. Although Renner has not been known for ever taking a stance on any political issue, All In reveals that the white rapper people know for “White Carmelo” is actually biracial. “It’s a really crazy story,” Renner told Complex in his May cover story. “I did Ancestry.com and found out that my great-great-grandfather was actually from Mexico. And then I realized something else: I understand the racial tension in America.”
And understand it he seeks to do, as the 16-track album (including 5 interludes where Renner features other biracial voices revealing their Ancestry.com stories) covers the perspective hip-hop fans need to hear at this particular moment in America: “My great-great-granddad didn’t die for this/I don’t even know Spanish/but I love my Hispanic heritage/and shout-out to the Migos, shit.”
This is only a small sampling of the introspective lyrics that Renner includes on what is undeniably his most important LP since 2006’s Thugrats. Elsewhere, he talks about what his biracial identity allows him to see that others can’t, almost as if it is a superpower that automatically grants one a look beyond the pressures of now:
And I’m not saying I see more than the average uni-racial boy
But when I see the way insults are deployed
I’m just like, can’t we all get along more?
For sure, for sure, it’s ya boy Renner
A sinner by any other name
But let’s stop playing the race game
And start playing some board games
Not monopoly, but something safe for everybody
Know what I mean?
Aren’t we bored with the norm?
Don’t care if your name is Norm or Nyongo
Shout-out to Rogue One
No, shout out to the One
Isn’t that what we’re all here for?
A spiritual connection to something more?
Say more! Say more!
Fans are sure to mine these lyrics for all they are worth, and Renner knows that is at this time in history where biracial rappers can say what others can’t: that white supremacy, police brutality, the toxic presidency, continued racial oppression in the form of discriminatory housing policies, education, and workplaces, xenophobia fueled by years of targeted hatred toward Muslims, immigration policies that criminalize migrants to America, and mass incarceration would all be over the day we all decide to hold hands.
As Renner so eloquently puts it himself: “Until we’re all in/we’re not in/in fact, we’re in for it.” And that’s a message that everybody can generally assume is saying something in the direction of a positive, vague enough, but not altogether disagreeable statement.
10/10 rap horns
This article was written by Ben Taylor, who had a brief part-time stint as MC Renner’s ghostwriter, but now he does it full time. Follow him for more on Twitter @therealbenshady.