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March 30, 1990 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-30
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DJ Mark Foggins

Samantha Sanders/WEEKEND

Hammering the streets for more then ten years, rap music has recently seeped into white-bread
America. And, like everything else that eventually invades the mainstream, rap has trickled into
Ann Arbor. Weekend 's Donna Iadipaolo spoke with LSA Senior Mark Feggins about deciphering
media myths currently harassing rappers, such as Newsweek's March 19 cover story.
Earlier this month Feggins, who grew up in Detroit, kicked offed "rap Night" on Tuesdays at
the U-Club. He is also spins "everything but country" on his WCBN radio show "Slave to the

Rhythm" on Wednesday from 12-3p.m.}
Weekend: Why have you important about rap music that its
chosen rap as a form of being highlighted in this way
expression, whether it may be right now?
your show on CBN or "rap Night" F: Well, I think it's because of
at the U-Club? Why is it its activist nature right now.
important to you? Especially because it's Black
Feggins: It has just as much voices - Black people voicing
to do with the fact that it's good their concerns, their ideas, their
music to dance to as much as it experiences. Its a challenge to the
has something to say. Either one establishment. In the same way
is a draw. I that punk music

mean there's
been dance
music before,
whether it be
disco or even



challenged and
opened the eyes
of the
establishment -
shocked them
with its music.
Rap has the same
kind of idea, but
it's more

house, but it
hasn't by Donna
issues as well
as rap seems to be doing these
W: How does rap address
issues more than other dance
F: Well, by nature of the form.
House music has relied on and
was influenced by sort of
minimalist disco. You know, just
basically love songs with more
bass. Whereas rap is very
engaging. By its nature, it's rap
and there's just a lot more to be
W: Rap has been receiving a
lot of attention in the mainstream
media these days. Newsweek, for
instance, had its cover story on
rap last month. What is so

ladi paolo

whether it be politics, media or
other forms of expression. Like
Black religion, music is one of the
only ways for Blacks to express
their feelings to a wide audience.
And I think it's unfortunate it has
to be limited to music, but that's
the chief form of Black expression
in the secular world right now. At
this point you have to take
whatever you can get. And it has
made changes. It's encouraged
young Blacks to find out more
about their culture. Malcolm X is
becoming hip. And hopefully it
won't end at just rapping to some
tune with Malcolm's name in it,
more people will feel encouraged
to find out who he is.
W: So you see rap affecting
other areas besides music?
F: Definitely. I think more
people are expressing themselves
and doing what they can for the
movement by a heightened
awareness. And what it does for
Black culture is positive, but its
influence on American culture is
where the rift starts, especially
with those who are worried of its
W: Specifically, what kind of
effect do you see on Ann Arbor or
on campus? Or do you see
something about to occur as far
the music seen or in relation to
F: Well, as far as Ann Arbor is
concerned, the whites I've seen

here, you know, I have alot of
friends that are very much into
rap and quote the lines and listen
to it. Now as far as repeating what
they say, and finding out more, I
don't know. Hopefully Blacks are
encouraged to find out more. I'm
not sure if the whites aren't
taking just the spirit of it and
enjoying that aspect of it. You
know, the anger, the catharsis of
it. And that's a concern. I would
hope that someone is taking
something from the rap. But at
the same time I'm not sure if that
is happening.
W: And you think that should
F: Well, I would like to see it
happen. Because as I said before,
voices for expression are limited.
Music and religion and politics, to
a very limited extent, are what we
have. Thank God there's Spike
(Lee). But you can see in that
field how limited Black film
makers are. Look at the Black
film makers that get exposure. I
would hope that someone would
take something home or be
encouraged to try and understand
what's going on in the music. Ask
questions. What does this song
mean? Why do they say that?
I think that Black music has
been also very positive in that it
has opened the door up to the
market. In the sense that, if you
look at how rock music came
about in the fifties the
establishment didn't have a hand
on the form, the genre. And they
weren't able to exploit it. And so
what you had were these smaller
labels springing up. I think
everyone's for diversity in their
music, you know, a wider range of
music being brought to everyone.
In the samrn .ay hat Motown was
able to grow because Berry Gordy
was more in the trenches to find
that music and had the ear for it.
In the same way, you find these
smaller independent labels like
Tommy Boy or Fourth and
Broadway becoming successful.
And I think that's very positive
too. It just opens the market.
W: So do you see the market
opening up in that way?
F: Well, as people become
interested in the music they
purchase the album. I don't know
if everyone's so conscious of the
fact that they're buying an
independent label's artist as much
as record stores are responsive to
seeking out these smaller labels.
They're stocking more on their
shelves then ever before.
W: So why don't you talk a
little bit more about what you do
and how what you play helps this
entire process of promoting rap.

F: Well, I would like to think
that I'm helping in the sense that
I'm offering the music. Because
even with rap music's tremendous
sells and its popularity, its not
really offered. I mean you have
"Yo MTv raps" for thirty minutes
twice a day, or something like
that. And radio still plays only the
largest rappers, the most popular.
So most is still not offered. I'd
like to think that I'm giving
something to people with its
messages too, whether it be rap or
hip hop.
W: People have said to me that
white people shouldn't listen to
rap, specifically a group like NWA.
What do Blacks mean when they
say that about rap music?
F: Well, I think that when
that's being said it relates to what
I was talking about before. Some
people listen and only take the
anger and emotion out of it and
enjoy that, whether its some
power chord in rock or whatever.
They just get this feeling for it.
But they're not interested in what
is being talked about. I mean,
NWA is telling their experience in
Compton. People hear the angst,
profanity, and great beats, but I
think they rarely look at the
album as a testimony to a severe
social problem occurring each day
for many Blacks.
W: Do you think people
sometimes misconstrue what
rappers are saying?
F: Yeah, I think people often
take the wrong attitude toward
rap. I mean all I would want
someone to say if they heard a
song that was controversial is to
just ask questions. Hopefully,
they would be encouraged to seek
out what's happening. And I'm
not saying that people should
take a notebook around with
them. But if its something that
you're going to speak out about,
find out the other side before you
spout. And as far as "you
shouldn't be listening to..." it
doesn't mean that as much as it
mean you're not concerned about
what we're saying. You're not
ready to act on it. You haven't
expressed a desire to understand.
W: How do you think people
generally perceive rap music?
F: Well, I don't think rap
receives the respect it deserves. I
think first of all its very important
to know that there's all different
kinds of rap. As I'm sure you
know, there's party rap not
concern about anything. Just
comedy silly rap like DJ Jazzy Jeff.
And I think its interesting to see
that those which are not
concerned with issues have been
the ones to cross over and make it

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1 Coleridge rather than tolerated. For all the talk
of liberalism in Key West, there is an
re looking for tropical ongoing effort to get the campier
you can do no better in the element off the streets.
rtes than Key West..." Down at Mallory Square, the street
for Let's Go America, also entertainers were gearing up for the
night's performance. The motel
manager had insisted that we watch
the sunset there before going
lad to get on the highway. drinking; "the best sunset in
ort Lauderdale, my driving America", he said, as if a different sun
getting erratic. My normal set in North Dakota. The crowd on
r breakneck speed had the pier were mainly tanned college
crting me, and I found students and older couples with white
ugging along by the beach, legs and enormous wraparound post-
her traffic into the passing cataract sunglasses, who were staying
ook in the sights - the in the expensive hotels just above the
neon colors, the sun pier. We arrived about an hour early,
flesh, and the pretty and listened to the juggler go through
ces. his routine about six times, by which
ll passed when we got to time I was seeing about the same
1 the determination to get to number of suns. They have a fine
kicked in again. Overtaking way of embellishing their stories
o lane Overseas Highway down there - I was expecting the sun
y hairy, and Kara had to do a Mary Lou Retton routine,
nto the back seat and gone before it plunged into the ocean.
ather than spending the trip Instead, it just dropped as it always
to the grilles of oncoming does. The crowd wandered back to
gons. the bars, as the juggler counted his
hinking over all the things I takings and loudly announced "I
I about Key West - wacky, think I got screwed this evening".
and easy, footloose, liberal, The evening was still warm, and
Food and excellent bars, and we sat outside and watched the action
k of my mind was a trip to around Sloppy Joe's. Some cretin
iffet's Margaritaville bar. appeared to have done a group deal to
Guinness in the world can supply the Greek system with
in Donoghue's pub in mopeds. Entire frater1.ties and
Che best bitter is at the sororities were cruising down the
Holmes in London. I street, honking their horns to
largaritaville might be a announce their presence, until they
:e to start looking for the reached Sloppy Joe's, where they
aritas. crept past the stony-faced Harley
ver else they do down in bikers in muted deference.
, they definitely understand Occasionally, a couple of bored
ild anticipation. From Key bikers would hop on their hogs and
wards, the water changes in lurch off down the strip, gunning
strange birds with dangerous their engines but watching the
caks stare at you from the 25mph speed limit, and giving the
you flash by with the wind finger to the men whistling at them
ir. There are few things that from the door of the 801 bar. Ten
the thrill of trying to get minutes later, they would arrive back,
rtible top on a rental car to sweating and revving as if they had
80mph, but Kara made me just pulled an overnighter from San
we had pulled into a Burger Fransisco, and back their bikes into
arathon. I didn't mind. the neat rows outside the bar. It was
the sort of weather that like Venice Beach in California (Let's
govers, and by the time we Go America's other "wonderfully
y West, I had decided to go wacky" destination) - people who
et one, so I could cure it this knew they were supposed to behave
text morning, strangely no matter what the
ecked into the motel, and incongruities.
owntown armed with a list of I heard a cheer and looked up to
k-there bars. Carnival-like see a trio of couples on huge Honda
eet runs east-west, with the Goldwings hauling motorcycle
n the east, becoming trailers, immaculately outfitted in
as it ends up in the touristy matching gear, and staying in touch
Fwo men (wearing "I hate over radios built into their color-
t-shirts) were standing on a coded helmets. They looked like a
ner grinning at passers-by, bunch of Star Trek fans who had read
"Yeah, we're gay!" at those Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
d too long. Three students Maintenance and decided to organize
luarnet shades, Greek Week their lives around it. The Harley
.L. Bean shorts and bikers were cheering them, for
nds were walking in front of reasons that remain unclear - perhaps
ng into the gay bars as they because they were the truly wacky
. "Jesus!" said one, "these ones, people who had forever ceased
ook the same - they all have to be cool, but remained dangerously
es!" I half expected an unaware.
ogist to jump out of the Sloppy Joe's modestly advertised
ith a tape recorder, but none itself as 'Hemingway's favorite
bed. watering hole'. Inside, the noise was
the businesses in Key West ferocious - the band seemed

Ievermined to drown out any
conversation, to lure people to the
dance floor. Bikers mingled with gay
men and women and drunken college
students, all sizing up the opposition.
A young woman wearing only a pair of
shorts and a bikini top three sizes too
small for her ample chest sidled onto
the floor, and was magically joined by
every male college student south of
Miami Beach, trying to slow dance
with her despite the thumping beat,
glad to get a chance to display their
heterosexuality. At the bar, a
sunburned student spotted two gay
men holding their cigarettes the same
way he was, and immediately gripped
his cigarette between his thumb and
forefinger, Clint Eastwood style.
Hemingway would have fled back to
his cats.
The bars showed no signs of
closing, and we wandered back to the
motel. Along the way, we gave vague
directions to hordes of drunks, young
and old, gimping through their streets
in search of their motels, stopping
only to throw up or empty their
bladders. At the motel, the car park
was empty, although it was three in
the morning. We drove down to the
beach, and sat on the shore, taking in
the fresh air and finishing off some
beer we had left from the drive down.
Not more than five minutes later, a
police car pulled up and a cop
climbed out and walked towards us.
"Okay, folks, beach is closed. Time
to find a room", he said.
I looked around as soon as I buried
the beer can only to see six students
climbing out of the boats behind us
on the sand, clutching their sleeping
blankets and rubbing their eyes. I
laughed, and the cop turned and
squinted in our direction.
"You too", he said. We trudged
back up to the car, which I had
unwittingly impaled on the curb.
"Let's wait for a bit so he won't
notice the car," I said.
"Okay," said Kara. "I'll wait in the
I shuffled around the car, watching
the cops beating their night sticks on
the parked cars, and sending the
occupants off in search of paid
Kara cracked the door.
"Don't worry about the beer cans, I
threw them into the back seat", she
"Shit! They were half-full!" I
I got into the car, and listened to

the beer gurgling onto the back seat
while the cops manhunted the beach
and park for half an hour, When they-
finally left, we drove slowly back to
the motel in the early dawn.
We spent the next day at the
beach, where I got severely burned as
usual, and spent the afternoon
propped up under a tree watching the
Park Rangers roaming the beach in
search of topless women, a difficult
and demanding job. I was in too
much pain that evening to go bar-
hopping, so I sat in Crazy Daizyz
watching the police watching the
students and listening to the locals -
grumbling about the 'foreigners', as
they call tourists.
'Place sure isn't the same as it used
to be", said a white haired old man at
the bar beside me. "Used to be we
had all sorts of arty folk, they'd come
here for the peace and quiet. Good
folk, too. Great drinkers, great
He smiled and nodded as if he had
said the line a thousand times.
"Well, they bring good money with
them, I suppose", said the barman,
nodding at a bunch of students
buying postcards across the street. I
nodded in agreement. Key West was
not a cheap place to get to, or stay in.
"You a student then?" the barman
asked. I shook my head, and said
"It's a good town for them", he
said. "Bands in all the bars, dollar
drafts, 99c schapps."
"Yeah, all the comforts of home on
the beach", I said. He gave me a
quizzical look, turned, and rambled
off down the bar.
I paid up my tab, and walked
down to Margaritaville. To my
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like a
the b;
sir", s
gift sI
I t
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path s
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and n
in the

W: What about the idea of
promoting Afrocentricity? Is that
sort of what your talking about in
terms of the Black experience?
F: Yeah, I think so. I think its
encourages the advancement of
Blacks. I think after the civil
rights movement there was sort of
a lag there. And this generation
has seen things steadily go down
hill during the seventies and
eighties. They've looked back at
the civil rights movement and I
think they've picked there heroes
from it and they've become the
subject of many songs. For
Blacks, all of the avenues of
expression are relatively limited,



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March I.

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