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March 30, 1995 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Smile pretty

for me
Usually we walk around campus
*ith our heads bent, intent on our
destinations and oblivious to those
walking around us. Every now and
again we may notice someone walk-
ing with a big smile and saying hello
to people who pass by. But, often we
react to these people with a snarl and
*"Why are they so damn happy?"
It's seems to be the Michigan way.
We walk around wrapped up on our
rn concerns and friends. Sometimes
e are just downright unfriendly.

At

the

crossroads,

mYeets

By Dustin Ells Howes

But not this week. This week has
been Friendly Days. Now, I know
when people hear about it they snicker
Jd blow it off as some crazy people
owing sunshine. The skepticism ran
high as all of us who usually walk
around in a funk were filled with
disbelief that people might actually
endeavor to smile.,
When I first became involved in
Project Smile, I was also a unbe-
liever. I know that I try really hard to
be nice to people and do little things
for people to brighten their days, but
*is is not always easy. And I had no
idea that something as simplistic as
being friendly could turn into a cam-
pus event. I thought that I would work
on it but it probably wouldn't be all
that we hoped it would be.
To my surprise, I was wrong. I
think people want an opportunity to
smile. People are just looking for an
excuse to get out and meet people.
riendly Days was that excuse this
week.
Such was the case for various ad-
iinistrators. Just as we students
traverse campus in a daze of isolation,
there is a group of University higher-
ups who often find themselves hidden
away in various corners of the Flem-
ing Building or the third floor of the
Union. Often this isolation is self-
imposed, whether because it is less
Oky or merely comfortable. But
whatever the case, several University
administrators dared to exit their of-
fices and venture onto, of all places,
the Diag.
This group, which included Vice
President for University Relations
Walter Harrison, Vice President for
Student Affairs Maureen Hartford,
Dean of Students Royster Harper and,
es, even President James Duderstadt
Mmself, braved the cold on Monday
to hand out hot chocolate to students
passing by. While it was amazing that
some of them even showed up, it was
even more amazing to see the student
reaction.
Students were definitely surprised
to see people that they only read about
in the Daily - if they have even heard
of them at all. It just goes to show that
*little friendliness, and exposure, can
go a long way to helping an image.
Friendly Ambassadors have been
scouring campus all week looking for
people doing random acts of kindness
for others. One of them told me of
being able to give a homeless person
a coupon for a free lunch at Quizno's.
She said that just the look of amaze-
ment on his face at her gift was enough
lift her spirits. It lifted mine to just
ear about it.
And that is really what this week
has all been about. It is about showing
people, if only through a smile, that
we as individuals can care about each
other. It is about looking at the good
instead of the bad.
Often as members of the Univer-
sity we focus on those things which
'eview to be problems. When our
orts teams are great we love them,
but when they do poorly we really
hate them. We think about how many
pages and pages of papers we have to
write instead of what we might actu-
v learn AOr hnw m nrmn e ea

"Hopefully we'll be around and
just continue doin' music 'cause mu-
sic is eternal. We can just keep adding
on to that, you know? Different ex-
pressions, different types of things
" - Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest
The rap community now stands in
the midst of a spiritual rebirth. After a
rough adolescence of violence, dispar-
ity and negativity - producing some
incredibly powerful music - a hope-
ful but grounded and mature conscious-
ness suppressed for so long is begin-
ning to assert itself. A Tribe Called
Quest, Digable Planets, The Roots and
others all produced albums which dem-
onsti-ate the healing powerofjazz mixed
with lyrics from the heart.
As rap exploded into the commer-
cial realm with danceable R & B
infused tracks and then misogynist-
and/or violence-laden songs, many
people raised in hip-hop culture turned
to their roots in an attempt to find life
in the shifting sands of popular cul-
ture. As record executives scrambled
to cater to the market of rebellion
hungry suburban and inner-city teen-
agers, artists whose expressions did
not gibe with these new and powerful
economic forces searched for contin-
ued musical vitality.
While rap offered rhythms which
became irresistible for everyone from
Susanne Vega to Aerosmith, and seeped

into R&B, rock and Top 40, it drew
for the most part from somewhat lim-
ited rhythmic realms. James Brown
and his bands had provided musical
moments which could be reworked
and expanded upon; but now, while
some turned to George Clinton and
Parliament as a never-ending source
of funkiness, others graduated from a
fixation with a one-man answer to
their search for powerful musical
samples and entered the school of
jazz.
A few hundred songs later, artists
like The Roots, M.C. Solaar and lesser-
knowns like Circle of Power and Jus-
tice System are using live instruments,
better integrated jazz and hip-hop
samples, deeper rhymes and fatter bass
lines. The rap race is being blown
wide-open and the direction of hip-
hop culture is being altered.
It's just like you, if you just go to the
cafeteria and meet some people... Later
on in your life if y'all do something
together people be like, "Tell us where
you all met?" Itain'tnuttin'major. On
a pager. - Ishmael (a.k.a. Butterfly) of
Digable Planets
When exactly jazz and rap were
introduced is impossible to say. Per-
haps the first song to specifically ad-
dress the genre is Jazzy Jeff's "A Touch
of Jazz" (1987), but there is no question

MOLLY ST
Spearhead is an Acid Jazz outfit that looks very cool with Hill's ornate roof above them.

that jazz has always been a part of the
hip-hop feeling. The first big-selling
rap single, "Rapper's Delight," was
deep in live instrumentation which,
despite the lack of a horn section, is
not far from the kind of seventies
fusion jazz which has made waves

recently.
Eric B. and Rakim's "I Ain't No
Joke" (1988) and the Jungle Brother's
"Straight Out the Jungle" brought the
power of the saxophone to rap. In the
late '80s DJ Mark the 45 King mixed
horns with straight slammin' rhythms
on single after single (Queen Latifah's
"All Hail the Queen," Lakim
Shabazz's two albums and
Gangstarr's "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
to name a few). Stetsasonic jumped
ahead of their time with a synthesized
jazz band on "Talkin' All That Jazz"
As singles with jazz influences be-
gan to become more common, hip-hop
ears became accustomed to the instru-
ments outside of the jazz rhythm sec-
tion thereby ensuring that the full
power of jazz remained largely un-
tapped. The opening seconds of A
Tribe Called Quest's "Low End
Theory" meant the wait was over. As
the acoustic bass ran its line, the earth
which had gone untouched now be-
came the home for everyone from
Eric B. and Rakim, "Don't Sweat the
Technique", to a new group called
Digable Planets, "Rebirth of Slick
(Cool Like Dat)." Along with the bass
came the haunting vibes and the
Rhodes organ.
The new possibilities opened by
exploration in jazz have brought new
labels like "acid jazz", new artists from
all over the world claiming pieces of
hip-hop, and worries about the pollu-
tion of jazz (legitimate, institutional-
ized) and the dilution of rap (reality-
based, people's music).
That's basically what our beef was
- was with the label [Acid Jazz] ... If
you a hip-hopartistand you ain'tplayed
a saxophone for 35 years, you're not
going to understand no Coltrane shit.
You know what I'm sayin'? And vice
versa. It's two different things, man.
... I think both things stand on their
own two feet in a lovely fashion, and
it's no need to take anything away
from either/or. - Ishmael
Groups self-consciously residing
under the tent labeled acid jazz are in
fact -influenced by house music, '60s
and '70s jazz, funk and soul, and the
full gamut of rap sub-headings (from
discoish Africa Bambatta to Public
Enemy). Despite the supposed estab-
lishment of a new genre, they have

groups like Galliano, the United Fu-
ture Organization (Japan) and The
Young Disciples are straight up funky
at times and truly thumpin' in a put-it-
in-your-jeep-and-blast-it fashion at
others.
We're a young group. Young po-
litically and socially ... We're as much
students, as we are whatever kind of
teachers. ... We have a rudimentary
understanding of the plight of our
people and we don't like it, we talk
about it. - Ishmael
Like the hopeful but realistic ma-
turity of hip-hop, acid jazz artists are
full of purposeful messages. Ameri-
can R&B seems prone to suck the
substance from even the most cred-
ible hip-hop tracks, but various rap
artists have taken chapters from street
soul/acid jazz book and put singing to
good use (Guru's Jazzmatazz,
Spearhead's Mary and Nas' single for
"One Love" for instance).
As rap and acid jazz artists have
dug in their parents' crates for jazz,
they have found music which is power-
ful because of its mostly non-verbal
insistence on evoking emotions in the
listener. The subtler approach of jazz;
as contrasted with the forceful lyrics
of rap has meant created a more con-
templative and inner-looking rap,
Being true to the hip-hop scene means
being true to yourself.
You just have to be as real as
possible. That's basically what we try
to do in the music and in life. In your
lfe your always learnin' and tryin' to
walk on a cool path. - Ishmael
An album called "Stolen Mo-
ments," which brings together rap
artists with jazz sensibilities, acid jazz
artists, and jazz artists like Herbie
Hancock and Donald Bird, is perhaps
the epitome of this new sense of pur-
pose; the album brings together musi-
cal impressions from all over the world
concerning H.I.V. while the proceeds
go towards AIDS organizations world
wide.
As acid jazz sections appear in
record stores and gain new albums
weekly, and a rapper like Michael
Franti goes from a style resembling a
street corner preacher to sounding
more like jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron,
it is clear that hip-hop is growing

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