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October 21, 1988 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-21

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily
BY BRIAN BERGER
WAKE up! Whether you know it
or not, the fact is that Gil Scott-
Heron has been kicking the dope
jams for nigh on 15 years. While
there has recently been a heightened
awareness of Scott-Heron's themes
and messages, via the work of hip-
hop artists like KRS-One, Eric B.
and Rakim, and Public Enemy, the
boppin' poetical genuis that is Gil
Scott-Heron is still largely un-
known.
"Radio stations l question their
Blacknessi They call themselves
Black but we"ll see if they play
this" -Public Enemy
There is no doubt that hip-hop,
artists have a legitimate gripe with
the so-called "urban contemporary"
radio stations. The ghettoization of'
hard hip-hop to the late night hours
is just plain retarded. But, as bad as
that is, consider the plight of Black
rockers, reggae, blues, and jazz
artists whose work doesn't fall into
line with the hip-hop, light soul,
and flaccid funk that radio seems to
favor.
In this day and age, you would be
hard pressed to prove by listening to
the radio that some of the most
biting, political, and funky soul/rock
'n' roll was not only performed by
Black artists, but damn popular in
its time. I'm talking about Sly and
the Family Stone, The O' Jays, the
Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Curtis
Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Edwin
Starr, the Chi-Lites, and, of course,
the most sampled man alive, the
Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
In the heady days of Top 40 and
freeform radio, these artists were
tremendously popular. Unfortu-
nately, it seems that the explosion,
of striking Black music was too
much too soon, and both the artists

Friday, October 21, 1988

Page 7

Gil

Scott-

Heron
Lyric master broadcasts
the Revolution live
from Ann Arbor

and radio retreated to the far safer
position of singing about love and
happiness.
Admittedly, there was some ear-
wrenching music in the post
Blaxpoitation film era, most notably
George Clinton's various P-Funk
ensembles. For the most part, how-
ever, polyester leisure suits were in
and political awareness was out. All
music, but Black music most tra-
gically, grew increasingly conserv-
ative and faceless as the '70s dragged
on.
The rise of hip-hop in the early
'80s was a harbinger for a new
awakening in Black music. While
people like Prince and Michael
Jackson reclaimed rock and soul as
their own, artists like Afrikaa
Bambata, Grand Master Flash, and
the Sugar Hill Gang mined a vein
that assimilated some of the dis-
parate elements of be-bop, blues,
funk, and toast to come up with a
whole new musical form.
But, while America was suffering
through the Commodores and Isaac
Hayes, our friends in Jamaica and
England were busting ass to create
one nation under a groove. Artists
like Culture, Bob Marley and the
Wailers, Peter Tosh, and Linton
Kwesi Johnson fused supple rhy-
thmic beauty with uncrompromising
yowls of spiritual/ political fury. As
a reggae frontman, activist, and
politically aware artist (as opposed
to politically "Correct" - Johnson's
smart enough to know he doesn't
have all the answers), Johnson
became the eptiome of the new
Black poet cum singer cum role
model.
The mention of role models
finally brings us all back home to
the topic at hand, Gil Scott-Heron.
You see, all the great things that I've
ascribed to the hip-hop artists,
Linton Kwesi-Johnson, and everyone
See Heron, Page 9

Soviet symphony
debuts rhapsody

BY D. MARA LOWENSTEIN
0 N Sunday afternoon, listeners
will have the opportunity to soar to
the ceiling in harmonic anticipation,
experience aural ecstasy, and, finally,
relax in a sea of rhapsodic melody.
World-renowned director/conduct-
or/composer Yevgeny Svetlanov
will present the U.S. premiere of his
Rhapsody No.2 with the Moscow
State Symphony at Hill Auditorium.
Svetlanov, also a pianist and
scholar of symphonic and operatic
heritage, has been with the Moscow
State Symphony for the past 23
years. Svetlanov is credited with the
exceptional quality and international
acclaim of the orchestra. Before
joining the Symphony, Svetlanov
was conductor of the Bolshoi The-
atre, where he conducted numerous
critically acclaimed productions, in-
cluding Rimsky-Korsakov's "The
Tsar's Bride," and Mussorgsky's

"Boris Godunov."
The Moscow State Symphony,
founded in 1936 by Alexander Gauk,
is known for its consistently
innovative programs. The ensemble
was the first to perform works by
Kachaturian, Kabalevsky, and
Prokofiev. In 1943 the symphony
gave the infamous first performance
of Shostakovich's "Leningrad"
Symphony. Now, under the direction
of Svetlanov, the Symphony is in
the process of creating "An Anthol-
ogy of Russian Music," a project
that will take at least 20 years to
complete, and promises to be the
finest compilation of Russian Music
ever.
The orchestra first toured the U.S.
in 1960 and has toured extensively
ever since. This will be the Moscow
State Symphony's fifth trip to Ann
Arbor, and Svetlanov's fourth. Svet-
See Soviet, Page 8

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