There’s a hip-hop star snacking beside you

Heiruspecs bassist Sean McPherson goes back to school

Keri Carlson

Local hip-hop group Heiruspecs performed with Atmosphere and toured the country with the likes of Lyrics Born, Ja Rule and Cake. So why would bassist Sean McPherson want to give up the life of a rap star for college?

One reason: McPherson loves dorm food.

OK, so that’s not the entire rationale for going to school, but nonetheless, McPherson credits his UDS card as a major perk.

Sitting at Comstock’s cafeteria, the 24-year-old (almost 25) looks a bit out of place among other students, mainly first-years and sophomores. Typically off-campus students try to stay as far away from the dorms as possible.

“I love the salad bar,” he said. “On tour whenever we played colleges I would try and find a girl to get me into the dining hall. Dorm food is great.”

McPherson first went to the University in 2000 but stopped after spring 2002 to further pursue success with Heiruspecs, the band he started in high school.

Heiruspecs has not disbanded, but the members have slowed down and are taking their time to record their next album. Between 2002 and 2005, McPherson said, the group spent more time touring than at home. At the end of a long tour, the van flipped on the way home from Fargo, N.D.

“Everyone was fine, but we still took it as a sign we should take a break,” he said.

McPherson is using this downtime to finish the degree he started in Afro and Cultural Studies, finish his foreign language requirement and take business classes.

The first time McPherson attended school he developed different ways of thinking about music. From music department classes he learned music theory and strengthened his “ear.” And from a poetry and hip-hop class, he learned ways of studying rap lyrics which he said helped him to integrate the band’s music with rapper Felix’s rhymes.

“I don’t feel like (Heiruspecs) sounds like just a band with a rapper. I think we’re unified,” he said.

This time around, McPherson is interested in another side of music. “I want more of a background in business,” he said. “I’ve always done the bookkeeping in Heiruspecs and really, if you’re running a band, you’re running a business.”

Although McPherson can apply much of his band experience to school, the transition after the three-year break has been hard, he said.

“It’s your whole life,” McPherson said of college, “I mostly stay at home now.”

Still, McPherson every now and then has glimpses of his former life. In a couple of his classes, when classmates learned McPherson plays in Heiruspecs, they had mini freak-outs. And McPherson said he had a bizarre moment when walking from his class at Peik Hall to play a show in Coffman Union Great Hall.

But so far, no one has recognized him in the cafeteria.