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September 15, 1994 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-15

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4 -- The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 15, 1994

Violence isn't new
Cohens kill, too

Kunous raps heartily"
Chance has made his career

By ALEXANDRA TWIN
Between "Natural Born Killers,"
"Killing Zoe" and the highly-antici-
pated "Pulp Fiction," it is apparent

Hom
Entertainment
that the milieu of ultra-modem vio-
lence films, not to mention most of
the fall film season, while we're at it,
is very much under the distinctive and
resounding stomp of one Quentin
Tarantino. But pre-"Reservoir Dogs,"
say circa 1990, the scariest possible
depiction of modem-day violence lay
not in the exploits of the ordinary but
in the everyday of the extraordinary,
namely, the Mafia. In a time when,
forevery "Good Fellas" (1989), there
was an "Innocent Blood" (1991),
"Miller's Crossing" (1988), Joel and
Ethan Coen's fine contribution to the
modern Mafia flick stands as a some-
what startling, if comparatively pas-
sive original.
Not quite so many films about the
Irish mob, these days. It's all Vinny or
Guido or Corleone. Tommy, the strik-
ingly handsome lady-killer/ mobster

played by Gabriel Byrne, the strik-
ingly handsome actor/director is the
number two man and top advisor of
noted Irish Mob boss Leo (Albert
Finney). Leo's in charge, but he never
makes a move without Tommy and he
never questions what Tommy
preaches. Tommy is smart and resil-
ient, your perfectly studded Mafia
in a time when, for
every "Good Fellas"
(1989), there was an
"Innocent Blood"
(1991), "Miller's
Crossing" (1988), Joel
and Ethan Coen's fine
contribution to the
modern Mafia flick
stands as a somewhat
startling, if
comparatively passive
original.
guy, but just wary enough and weary
enough of his situation to earn points
as the secretly-sensitive guy, a trait
that lets him ease nicely into the ad-
mirable, if predictable role of anti-

By DUSTIN HOWES
Straight from the streetdown from
the get-go; ain'tadamn thing changed.
Kurious is an average guy, in person
and on wax, a rarity in the hip-hop
world. Can average be a good thing?
He's not necessarily average in a
musical sense, he can "top-of-the-
dome" rhyme like very few on wax, to
which anyone who listened to WCBN
the night he was in town can testify.
He is also extraordinary in that he has
come straight from the ghetto to suc-

at Def Jam - I didn't care about Def
Jam, you know, I wasjust like'What'd
you got to carry?' and he was like
'Envelopes.' I said, 'All riiiight!'
(snaps his fingers)"From there he got
to know Pete Nice and others who had
heard about him kickin' it on open
mikes around the city. The rest is his
story.
And his roots shine through the
tracks on his first release, "a consti-
pated monkey." Kurious said, "... it's
showin' real street, like how we chill,

cess on wax - a
one in a million.
He is average in
the sense that he
is notpretentious,
not anti-preten-
tious, he isjust ...
himself - the
guy from around
the way. His al-
bum isn't the
most sexist but
it's notP.C. either,
it's not the

n a day when over-
blown, macho,
primpin' and pimpin'
rappers saturate the
market, his honest
averageness is . . well,
refreshing.

it's not some
staged, gimmick
with guns ...*if
this was to be,
(my first and) last
album ... I want
to come natural,
so I drop all the
ego bullshit and
I just come up
with what means
somethin' tome"
So the album
flows. Kurious

Gabriel Byrne menaces a fence with all of his vicious anger.

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University of Michigan Medical Center
FEMALE VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
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All subjects will be paid for their participation in this project.

I1

hero: the tough guy with too much
heart.
Both Leo and Tommy are involved
with the glamorous, manipulative
Verna (Marcia Gay Harden). Both
men threaten to marry her at varying
times throughout the film. Both men
also protect her weasel of a brother,
Bernie (John Turturro), albeit reluc-
tantly, from the fervor of rival mobs,
furious with his shady bookie skills
and lack of good taste. Whereas
Tommy knows exactly what grift
Verna's on, so bewitched is Leo by
her dominating, earthly charms as to
wholly misjudge the dragon lurking
beneath. He's a sucker that can't see
past the lipstick and he suffers for it.
Although it is Verna that eventu-
ally draws the two men apart, it is the
shards of his own serrated ideals that
have been digging at Tommy for a
while. Thrust into the torrent of an all-
out gang war, Tommy finds himself
pitted against Leo, pitted against
Bernie and therefore Verna, even pit-
ted against the disseminating memory
of his own ironically-ideal tenure as
the mobster who never killed anyone.
Prominent, yet rarely over-stated

performances from the principles serve
to give the characters and ultimately
the film the impermeable backbone it
occasionally lacks. Equally strong are
the supporting players, including Jon
Polito, J.E. Freeman and character ac-
tor-extraordinaire Steve Buscemi, a
later Tarantino recruit.
Ultimately, it all comes down to
the exquisite writing and quality of
execution. The Coen Brothers, never
ones to squirm in the arms of precari-
ous circumstances, find just the right
balance of excess and near-manical
restraint. The extent of violence in
these character's lives is given it's
fair play. It is the means by which the
necessity of this violence is commu-
nicated that draws the broader pic-
ture. It's a distinction that Oliver Stone
would have done well to have taken to
heart before over-running the highly
stylized "Natural Born Killers."
Stripped to what it is- a low
impact yet highly inflammable foray
into modern-day violence-"Miller's
Crossing" is an easy step in, a clear
pro-genitor of the afore-mentioned
Tarantino season and a polishable gem
of its own.

slammin'est ever but it's no slouch,
his lyrics aren't amazing but they
hold their own. In a day when over-
blown, macho, primpin' and pimpin'
rappers saturate the market, his hon-
est averageness is ... well, refreshing.
His life, and his music, reflects a
working teen/man (now 23) who
ended up with an album.
From uptown Manhattan, he
started kickin' lyrics with the fellas
around 1983 andupto 1989 neverhad
any aspirations to get on wax, it was
"just for fun, you
know." Into rap
from the begin-".. It's sho,
ning, Kurious wit- street, iike
nessed the whole
shebang as it was Chill, it'S 11
born from the staged, gi
streets of New
York. "Before guns ...,ifs
'Rapper's De- be (my firs
light' even came
out, the older kids album I...
in my building come natu
would have tapes
of rap ... like in all the ego
the clubs and stuff I just comi
before rap actually
got on wax ... so I what mean
grew up on hip- to me.
hop." Yet this
freestyler, who
just kicked it
around the way
and grew up on the vibe was not
thinking wax -he was just livin' the
life.

1w
i0i
td
) b
ei

raps about everything from drinkin'
forties and smokin' blunts to school
and his dog Samson, he samples his
favorite album of all time (the Jungle
Brothers' Straight Out the Jungle),
and he kicks lyrics with the fellas
(including The Grim Reaper to Ca-
sual). He pretty much comes off like
he is - another fella from the CM
crew.
What's the CM crew? "... back in
the days people around my block were
called 'CM', like with graffiti and shit
like that, but it
rin' real standed for any-
fin ralthing, like
how we Criminal
M i n d e d,
t some Chainsaw Mas-
mick with sacres, Child
Molesters, you
iS Was to know what ever
and) last you wanted it to
vant to Representin' his
Ri, so i drop block came to
be part of the
5ulishit an d album's title al-
up with most by chance,
but since
a somethin' Kurious is so.
much one of the
boys it is alto-
- KuriOUS getherappropri-
ate that one of
his fellas came
up with the name. "... so Zev Love X
from KMD ... he's the one who actu-
ally made up 'constipated monkey'
the name 'cause ... he played me this
old Last Poets type tape, 'Just sittin'
at the bar starin' into an empty bottle
like a constipated monkey' he was
like, 'That's dope, right?' And I was
like 'Yeah' and then I was like 'Oh
shit, constipated monkey -C.M.'..
and it just fit so well forme 'cause my
See KURIOUS, Page 6

I

A

Symposium on

Someone else's good fortune
would have a hand in the life of
Kurious -his friend was moving up
from messenger boy at Def Jam
records. "I needed a job, I had a mes-
senger job ... but I was carrying big
bags of fabrics and stuff, I'm not
really built for that shit (laughs) ...
They need(ed) a new messenger over

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Lore A. Rogers
Ann Arbor Attorney Lore A. Rogers, is also Chair, American Civil Liberties Union,
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