Local rap scene stays alive
By BEN EWY
If you missed the Battle of the DJ's on Tuesday, you
missed what was one of the best local musical events in
recent memory. The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti rap scene is
by no means dead as shown by this slammin' show.
WCBN's Tony Brown, host of Saturday Night Jams,
presided over the battle. Brown has been very active in the
local hip-hop scene, both with his radio show and his
Tony Brown's Hip-Hop Jam
January 25, 1994
efforts to get the local talents heard. Brown's respect for
these groups is obvious, "You could take any rap group in
Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti and put them out and they would
be successful ... and the reason is is that these guys put in
the time being musicians during the old days," he said.
The show started with the complex lyrical style of
Jared B and did not slow down until the lights went on.
Mad Skills came on next, giving his version of freestyle
over dope beats. UVI rapped up a tempest, taking the
crowd by storm. The Style Junkies, both Pioneer High
School students, paced across the stage like expectant
fathers while belting out lyrics and flipping styles in a way
that was incredible for a group of any age, let alone high
schoolers. When asked how old they were, the Style
Junkies replied "ageless, man, ageless."
After them came the Herban Black Poets and DJ Dirty
Red, a group who used no samples, favoring their own
original music. The Herban Black Poets' music stressed
community and spirituality without sacrificing any of
their raw freestyle talents. After the laid back P-Funk
groove of the Herban Black Poets, Lock Down Produc-
tions rapped with an intensity that surpasses anything that
is heard on the radio today.
Lock Down Productions got the crowd moving and
built off of their own energy, giving a performance that
was commanding and powerful. Phase II blew up over DJ
AMF's complex beats and dumbfounded the crowd with
his freestyle skills. For a final encore, all of the rappers
came back for a freestyle set that was worth the price of
Perhaps the best part of the show was not seen by any
of the members of the audience. Backstage, it was obvious
that all of the individuals were pulling for one another,
creating a family atmosphere that was overwhelming.
According to DJ AMF, "Back a couple years ago,
people would dis, but not anymore; we all came together
and formed one big family." The Herban Black Poets
agreed and said, "If we all work together, I know it can
The only downside of the show was that the crowd was
relatively immobile. It is entirely possible though that the
crowd was overwhelmed by the performers and did not
want to miss a single lyric or beat.
Throughout the whole show, Tony Brown showed
why he is somewhat of a father figure for the local hip-hop
scene. Brown stressed the need for racial unity throughout
the night and was overjoyed that the show was a "night
without a fight" and implored the audience to help "in-
crease the peace."
In all, the Battle of the DJ's was a night of incredible
skill, positivity and professionalism that will hopefully set
the foundation for a Battle of the DJ's part II. As DJ AMF
said, "Big ups to Tony, he brought us all here tonight."
It's been said that the Spin Doctors are merely the world's luckiest bar band and there is a certain amount of truth
to that. Truly outstanding bar bands are quite rare and it is even rarer if they make it out of their home state. If
there is any justice in the world, Cleveland's Oroboros will be next in line. Led by Jim Miller, the band stirs up a
funky, relaxed stew of blues-rock with a decidedly tongue-in-cheek sense of humor ("Funk in A," for starters) which
is made for the stage, as their latest CD, "Serpents Dance," proves. Recorded at various clubs across the country,
the disc captures the subtle power of Oroboros in concert, frequently spinning off into enjoyable instrumental
improvisations. See them Saturday at the Blind Pig. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. for those 19 & over.
Original London Cast
Who can explain the appeal of
Andrew Lloyd Webber? His melo-
dies are canned, his lyrics trite (though
usually owing to Tim Rice or another
worthless scribe) and his orchestra-
tions vapid. But his songs are memo-
rable (ifonly because he reprises them
;o often), and his shows captivating.
;Consider the success of "The Phan-
tom of the Opera" - proof positive
that success is not always attained by
substance.) You like his stuff. We all
do. And though most of the free world
has vowed to hate his newest musical,
"Sunset Boulevard," this recording
will probably bring you around.
This two-disc set is the World
?remiere recording, featuring the
London Cast; the show is currently
playing Los Angeles as well, starring
Glenn Close, and a recording of that
production is in the works. (Already a
single of Close singing a radio-made,
poppy version of "The Perfect Year"
Sias been released.)
There is a lot of musicalization of
rothing more than people talking.
Fortunately, Sir Andrew still has a
few show-stoppers left in him -
Norma's songs ("With One Look,"
"As if We Never Said Goodbye,"
"The Perfect Year" and "New Ways
to Dream"), the love duet "Too Much
in Love to Care" and the title song.
But everything else is standard
Lloyd Webber - lukewarm. Almost
all of the show-stoppers are reprised
too often, and go on a bit too long. The
lyrics by Don Black and Christopher
Hampton are trite and too often
misaccented. And there is so much
dialogue that one almost feels cheated.
Patti LuPone saves the show as
the aging film star Norma Desmond.
She's mellowed out a lot; she knows
when to belt and when to go into head
voice. And considering the emptiness
of much of the score, the amount of
angst and musicality she brings across
is baffling. Kevin Anderson fits well
the role of Joe, and is quite powerful
- if a bit strained - throughout.
Meredith Braun is a bright spot as the
young and innocent Betty.
It will be interesting to hear Glenn
Close sing Norma, and the rest of the
"reworked" L.A. production. For now,
this recording is a great addition to
your collection. Hey,just because it's
Lloyd Webber doesn't mean you
shouldn't give it a chance.
- Melissa Rose Bernardo
Contrary to rumor, Majesty Crush
is not going to lead a new musical
revolution out of Detroit. The band's
debut, "Love 15," is a somewhat
catchy blendof English shoegazing
soundscaping and Detroit's tradition
of rock & roll and Motown but it
ultimately fails to catch fire. David
Stroughter's vocals are just weak
enough to drag down the mix and his
frequent indrawn breaths, apparently
meant to tease and tantalize young
females, only turn a potentially ad-
dictive tune like "Penny For Love"
into a joke. Meanwhile, Stroughter's
celebrity-obsession, while somewhat
interesting on the Jody Foster-tribute
"No. I Fan" ("I'd kill the President
for your love") and vaguely humor-
ous on "Seles" ("Your backhand wins
every time") grows quite old as he
works through "Uma" ("She's got the
dirty blonde hair / The kind of eyes
that stare") and "Cicciolina"
("Cicciolina is like Bambi ICicciolina
is like candy").
Guitarist Michael Segal and bass-
ist Hobey Echlin are competent
enough and the heavy groove of
Echlin's work provides a grounding
element that is often missing from
similar examples of ethereal rock.
Time and time again it is Stroughter
that kills the spirit. Though he appar-
to heart of campaign
By DAVID SHEPARDSON
One year has passed since the election of President Clinton. Almost two
years since the campaign was in full swing. The public's optimism that Clinton
entered office enjoying is now un-
The War Room "The War Room" reminds you of
what the campaign meant to the vot-
Directed by D.A. Pennebaker and ers and especially to the people who
Chris Hegedus. ran it. But beyond that, it is a film of
immense drama and an unprecedented
look inside a presidential campaign.
The name of the film comes from the name of the Clinton campaign's
strategy room where top advisors and college students alike would make
important and inane decisions. The name of the strategy room gives sway to
the impression the would-be combatants felt: the campaign was a war, if you
will, for change.
Enter George Stephanopoulus and James Carville, two of the governor's
most senior campaigners. The film traces their personal struggle in the War
Room and the campaign, through scandals, press coverage, debates and the
The film focuses less on trying to detail each campaign issue or event but
on the very real drama of the campaign. It intersperses a few unused scenes
from the makers of "Feed," a documentary of unseen footage from the New
Hamshire primary and some news footage of the campaign to give context to
their many hours of filming, which began during the Democratic National
But the film focuses on the personal relationship between Carville and
Stephanopoulus. Even the filmmaker Chris Hegedus said, "I see it as a buddy
story about George and James."
Except the buddies aren't robbing banks or going cross country: they are
electing a president.
The film is beautifully photographed, especially for being a documentary
film crew that was constantly on the run.
There are a host of memorable scenes. In one scene, Carville dictating a
Clinton "concession" speech to a hysterical Stephanopoulus. In another,
Stephanopoulus tells a would be "leak" in Godfather-esque terms that if he told
the news media of a rumor he had heard about Clinton, that the source, "would
never work in Democratic politics again."
The film has a greater number of quiet moments: the president sipping
coffee on the phone while Carville silently reads the newspaper; Stephanopoulus
walking into the sunset talking to the president.
It also reminds you - behind the high drama and riveting emotion - that
it is a glorified game. During the Convention Stephanopoulus runs through a
basement that looks like a high school locker room, whooping and hollering.
The end of the movie arrives about three-quarters through: the last day of
the campaign. While it can't be helped, the jump from debates to final day is
a little awkward. But it is truly a memorable day. And no matter what political
persuasion, it is difficult not to feel emotion during the last war room meeting.
Carville begins to cry as he thanks the staff for allowing him the opportunity
to serve with them.
George Stephanopoulus sits on the phone, talking to now President-elect
Clinton, that night. With tears in his eyes, he thanks Clinton for "allowing me
to be part of the best thing I've ever done."
"The War Room" is like no political film ever made. It is the majestic stuff
of which dreams, hopes and changes are made. It tells a story no amount of
coverage nor reading could provide.
Ann Arbor Civic Theatre pre-
sents, "Prelude to a Kiss," Craig
Lucas' play which focuses on apair
of lovers who are quickly wed. Dur-
ing their wedding, cosmic forces.,
take hold of his wife Rita.
On their honeymoon, Peter finds
that his once quirky wife has trans-
formed into a health conscious,
hearty conservative whose person-
ality bears little resemblance to that
which was Rita's. Peter spends the
rest of the play searching for his
wife's lost soul.
Sounds like a fun romantic com-
edy, right? Not really, but it does
lend itself to some interesting stag-
ing. You see Rita's soul is taken by
over by an older man and late in the
play Peter and the old man share an
"Prelude to a Kiss" will be per-
formed January 27 through Febru-
ary 12, Thurdays through Satur-
days at 8 p.m at the AACT Theatre
Arts Complex located at 2275 Platte
Rd. Tickets are $8 (two-for-one on
Thursdays). Call 971-AACT.
If you don't have the stomach
for Big Chief or can't get to the
Folk Festival, make the long trek to,
Detroit's Gem Theater for a con-
cert by the Holly Cole Trio. Cole's
vocals are smooth and lush, blend-
ing perfectly with the spare support
of her accompanying musicians;
her latest album, "Don't Smoke in
Bed," does indeed smoke, featur-
ing a wide range of tracks, includ-
ing the standard "Tennessee Waltz"
and Johnny Nash's pop-reggae clas-
sic, "I Can See Clearly Now." Tick-
ets are $16.50 in advance, with
doors opening at 7:30. It's a perfect
way to warm up a cold weekend.
Chiefs of Rock
If the Folk Festival isn't your
cup of tea, try out Ann Arbor's own
Big Chief at St. Andrew's Hall
instead. For years they have been
churning out their own brand of
punk-funk, but now the funk is
getting stronger than the punk -'
only one track on their new album,
"Mack Avenue Skull Game," ap-
proaches hard-core punk. Get to
the show early and check out the
New Bomb Turks. On their latest
EP, "Drunk on Cock," the Turks
display more of a garage-punk vibe
than a straight-edged hard-core at-
titude. Doors open at 9 p.m. for
those 18 & over and tickets are a
mere $7 in advance, so go ahead
and mosh away.
0 WA W A
ALOHA ENTERTAINMENT'S ADMISSION $5 Adults
$3 Students & Children
ST AT EATRE Bargain Mat. 1st Show Daily
on State St. at Liberty " 994-4024
Golden Globe Winner - Best Foreign Film
Farewell My Concubine
Daily at 4:00 7:00 9:45
Golden Globe Winner -
Best Ensemble Cast
See RECORDS, Page 9
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