The Michigan Daily,
by Forrest Green III
So it's a placid Monday morning
and I'm pacing the Daily. arts office,
reconsidering my questions again
when the telephone rings. And then
I'm standing beside myself, staring
detachedly as the call is answered.
We exchange pleasantries in a
roughshod fashion through what
sounds like a speakerphone. With a
clutter of "uhs" and "you knows,"
I ask Phife about the vibe that went
into creating the Tribe's new album,
an understated masterwork, The
ow End Theory.
"Well, basically the whole al-
bum is like that," he answers. "You
know, we're just trying to bring
back what hip hop was. It's like
kicking a basic routine, like what we
did on that single you just heard
("Check The Rhyme"), and still
comin' off. Everything is concept.
Everything has to have a concept, it
seems nowadays. So we're tryin to
frove that wrong. We're into con-
cepts, don't get me wrong, but we
wanted to just get wrecked this
"Okay, so unlike the first one,
there's no theme," I ask.
"Not really. The album is called
The Low End Theory. And it's basi-
cally just talkin about the bottoms.
You know, the bass, the 808s, all
t.at Just the whole vibe."
"Just describing the feel of the
record," I offer.
"Exactly. You know, in every
record it's like that. Last year, it
was a laid-back thing, where you
could listen to it with your grand-
mother. This year, you gotta pump it
in your car."
"The bass is in there. Is that re-
ally Ron Carter on that one song?"
* "That is Ron Carter on one cut,
Verses From The Abstract,"' Phife
"Were there any other cuts with
musicians on 'em? 'Excursions'
sounds like a sample..."
"No. No samples."
A Tribe Called Quest don't re-
veal their samples. This gesture of
forced legitimacy only adds to their
album's overall effect, a strong feel
*f musical cohesiveness. A calcu-
lated logic is holding these grooves
together, and from unpredictable
bop change-ups to the-chaotic cross-
Tuesday, September 24, 1991
Dune Buggy (12")
Looking for more proof that the US record industry is indeed a whir-
ling black hole of despair? Well, today's entry is by a girl (not a womyn)
who undoubtedly must have attended the Barbie (Mattel®, not Benton)
school of singing.
As a former model, she probably met some slimy producer at a sleazy
Hollywood party and he said, "Stick with me kid and I'll make you a Star."
"But Mr. Ree-"
"Call me Slip."
"OK, Slip. Well... I can't sing. I mean I've ne-"
"Hey, babe, don't worry about it. We don't sell singers, we sell image
here hon. Guns 'n Roses? Image. Axl had Big hair in the beginning, right?
Remember that? Well, we did a little research and discovered that the kids
were sick of Big hair. So-ixnay on the airhay!"
"But Slip, I can't even write any son-"
"Writing?! Hah! What's to writing?"
"Nothing! I could probably write your first single. Let's see, Apollo
Smile... Apollo Smile... Smile... Smi- I got it! Your first single will be
about a dune buggy, yeah, that's it. And... and you'll say something like,,
'My name is Apol-lo, Goddess of the Sun. Come ride in my Dune Buggy.'
Yes! Yes! I'm brilliant!"
"But, the mu-"
"And musically we'll just throw down a silly synth riff and any old
drum machine beat. Don't worry about it. It'll sell."
"Briliant just brilliant." -Richard Davis
Life's Too Short
"Better Back Off," the explosive rocker his critics have been waiting
for, starts off Marshall Crenshaw's first MCA release. Despite the unnec-.
essary Stones allusion in the first two lines, it's one of this year's finest
tunes, both lyrically and musically. Crenshaw, for instance, addresses a
self-deprecating, girlfriend with the reprimand, "You're talking about
someone I love." The Ed Stasium production catches the beat and brings it
out front without overtaking Crenshaw's guitar or vocals. The next couple
of tunes, including "Stop Doing That" and the Smithereens-like "Don't
Disappear Now," can sustain the interest of the shortest attention spans.
Once the disc hits tracks eight and nine, however, the excitement wanes,
and you're encouraged to do things like pick up the phone, brush your teeth,
or go get a cup of coffee. I'm not saying it's boring, but those tunes are just
not as good as the ones before it.
The closing ballad, "Somewhere Down the Line," brings the record back
to form with a chorus you may try to harmonize with. The "Here Comes
the Night" bassline sounds cool at the end, and its subtlety pr'events it
from sounding like the opening Stones reference. -Andrew J Cahn
The members of A Tribe Called Quest, looking pretty perturbed. Maybe it's because New Jack Kid Donnie
Wahlberg's little brother cramped their style by liberally sampling "Walk on the Wild Side."
faded breaks of rap, it all gels.
The real issue at hand concerns
the knowledge that the Tribe is
kicking nowadays. A great number
of rap listeners, myself included,
have built Q-Tip into some kind of
legend. Yet Low End Theory finds
the self-dubbed "abstract poet
prominent like Shakespeare" drop-
pin' lines about beepers and women
instead of karmic levels. In the
aforementioned "Verses From the
Abstract," he rhymes, "If I don't
pursue, then I just don't give a fuck/
My motto in the nineties is be happy
makin ducs/ Girls love the jim cause
it causes crazy friction/ When it
goes up in, it fluctuates their dic-
"Some people see it as we're
droppin' a little more knowledge or
whatever on this album, some peo-
ple see it as we're not," Phife con-
tinues. "Our thing is, we're not
tryin' to do anything but make rap
music. Whatever comes out, comes
out. Whatever comes out is gonna be
positive. It's just something you can
enjoy and listen to forever."
Forgetting that we're talking on
a speakerphone, when it comes time
for Q-Tip to talk, I dryly refer to
him as "the Abstract." Phife
suddenly explodes with a maniacal
howl of laughter, and I imagine Tip
glaring down at the module.
"What's the science, kiddo?" he
says in a funny voice, not unlike the
cartoon bullies you hear in the skits
between songs on the De La Soul Is
Dead album. I'm asking him to drop
about the songs from People's
Instinctive Travels and the Paths of
Rhythm, yet he forces me to answer
my own questions. The most awk-
ward moment occurs when he ex-
plains what the papes from "If the
Papes Come" are - money.
Another contendor might be the re-
sponse to my question about "After
Having taken the track for a ref-
erence to the end of the world, espe-
cially the foreboding line, "'Cause
there's only a few hours left," Q-
Tip stops my assumption cold, say-
ing it's "about a bunch of guys
hangin' out late at night, watching
the sun come up."
"Idle chatter... after midnight,"
No third eye is revealed to me. In
"Show Business," with Brand
Nubian, Q-Tip drops, "Let me tell
you bout the snakes, the fakes/ The
lies, the highs, all of these industry
shingdings/ When you see the pretty
girls/ In their high, animated
worlds/ Lookin for a rapper with
all the dough/ If you take a shit,
they want to know/ And if you take
a fall/ They won't be around, y'all/
So, you still wanna be in show busi-
ness?" Having alienated the Tribe's
collective vibe now, I feel closer to
that description than anything. So, I
do as Grand Puba Maxwell said in
the same song, and "throw away the
One very good point was made by
our conversation, however. Even
more brilliant than the admitted
simplicity of The Low End Theory
was the stubbornness with which
the Tribe refused to drop any arbi-
trary information to me. Not only
do they have one of the best albums
of the year, but their stripped-down
approach peels away all of this lug-
gage to reveal the true role of a rap-
per -just rap.
A TRIBE CALLED QUESTS THE
LOW END THEORY is scheduled
to hit record stores today.
Chris Curtis and
wobble but don't fall
The Performance Network
September 20, 1991
Dancing the night away at the
small but intimate Performance
Network, 21 dancers presented the
intriguingly ultra-modern 11th an-
nual September Dances show last
weekend. Ten pieces displayed a
*wide variety of talent and creativ-
ity, as dancers personified vibrations
from Jimi Hendrix guitar. strings;
expressed emotion through a glid-
ing skateboard; and magically trans-
formed themselves into a gracefully
awkward swarm of birds.
The eclectic and often bizarre
combination of music, sounds and
movement challenged the minds of
the viewers and allowed for various
interpretations. "A Stumble In The
Dark," choreographed by Barbara
Boothe, presented an captivating in-
teraction between a man and a
woman (Renee Grammatico and
Adam Clark). Like a musical fugue,
Clark echoed the movements and
poses of Grammatico's like a de-
layed shadow. The dissonant sounds
of Ralph Shapey's violin and piano
music were given form by the
dancers' arched backs, dragging feet,
and outstretched arms. The pair's
fluctuations between unity and
separation brought the unsettling
mood of the music to life.
With an odd mix of radio, voice
and song, Janet Lilly (co-producer
of the show) premiered her piece
"Needle In A Haystack." Reciting
See DANCES, Page 8
- OYOU LIKE TO SING~
~~pop, jazz, funk, blues, classical...
# a cappellar
i . ~Come to the'-.
.8 P.M. Tues., Sept. 24 -
U of M's Coed A Cappella Singing Ensemble
University Activities Center
Call for Audition Information: 763-1107 -
for more information
CP&P presents successful professionals sharing tips and advice on
the job search process and on graduate school decisions
First Impressions : The Employer Perspective
Tuesday, September 24 5:10-6:30 pm
A panel of employers shares insights on the interview process.
Learn what to expect, and how you can best prepare for your interviews.
Representatives from: Procter and Gamble
Environmental Protection Agency
Ernst & Young
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A .. t Air L " .-1 A.'7 1
Graauatecoo orhor Cxperence:
Which Comes First?