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February 01, 1996 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-01

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The Michigan Daily - Wued, c Uc. - Thursday, February 1, 1996 - 5B

a' Dogg Pound strikes a serious pose and swings to some serious rhythm.

1 P-HOP
ontinued from Page 18
Even the idea of gangsta R&B artists,
which sparked a little bit in '93 with
DRS's "Gangsta Lean," returned in 1995
..with the trio G.A.T. (the album sucks)
and now L.V. (ain't heard his stuff yet).
We even saw rap music mixing with
other urban musical forms in ways we
never dreamed. If, on Jan. 1, 1995, I had
*edicted that we'd see Mariah Carey
jamming with 01' Dirty Bastard or a
Notorious B.I.G./Michael Jackson duet, I
would've had my music reviewer's li-
cense revoked.
It was a comeback year for the old
school, though itwasn't"All Good" (com-
ing back and staying put are very different
things). "The World's Greatest Enter-
tainer," Doug E. Fresh, returned after
what seems like decades with "Flay,"
hich shows he's still one of the greatest
Js around (though "Play" has received
little airplay). Fresh keeps trying to stay
old school in a new-school world, and no
one wants to hear it. Special Ed came
back, but his stuff is so stupid I won't
waste your time or my article space dis-
cussing it. Also, Bushwick Bill's (Geto
Boys fame) first solo, "Phantom of the
Raptra," came out in 1995 in case you
didn't know. The CD's alright, but BB's
Scarface.
Grand Puba ("2000") and MC Breed
("Return of the Big Bailer") returned in
'95, too. I really wish these guys would sit
down and actually produce something
hype (they're both capable) instead of
just releasing a new album every month
just to see their faces on shelves. M.C.
Hammer released another album, "V."
So what.
LL Cool J did a good job with his
I west LP, "Mr. Smith," but the year's
atest comeback came from the green-
eyed bandit himself, Erick Sermon. His
sophomore LP, "Double or Nothing,"
released in'95, was the rocket that launched
him out of almost certain obscurity.
Pharcyde and Onyx came back - mad
changed. On "Bizarre Ride I the
Pharcyde," they sounded like they were
on acid; now with "Labcabincalifomia,"
Pharcyde sound like they's chillin' on
ed. Onyx's hyper-flow on
ackdafucup" was replaced by the al-
most suicidal-soundingcuts in theirsopho-
more LP "All We Got Iz Us." These
groups are following a general trend away
from the happy, lighthearted, or even
intermediate, sounds of past hip-hoppers

(Kid N' Play, Tribe Called Quest) and
toward a more somber lyrical game.
It was a stellar year for the Wu-Tang
Clan from Shaolin Land. Damn near ev-
erybody released a solo album, and all of
it dominated rap nationwide while still
remaining nested in its East Coast home.
Method Man's cracked-up crazed "Tical,"
Ol' Dirty Bastard's grunt-filled "Return
to the 36 Chambers," Raekwon and Ghost
Face Killa's rough-and-tumble "Only
Built 4 Cuban Linx," Genius' psychotic
"Liquid Swords"... did I get everybody
... they just the bomb.
His 1994 debut "Ready to Die" pro-
pelled Notorious B.I.G. to fame. While
not having released another LP since,
Biggie Smalls continues to rank among
the mostpopul arrappers due to the zillions
of singles he recorded last year. Now, his
Junior Mafia has made a name for itself
with "Conspiracy," which features the
widely-heard "Player's Anthem." Lil'
Kim's mic contributions to this album
gave her an especially big name in what
will go down as a lousy year for women
in rap. The only big thing involving a
female rap artist of any interest in'95 was
when Queen Latifah was car-jacked.
The rap community also felt the sting
of many hip-hop losses. David Cole, pro-
ducer of C&C Music Factory and the
"Bodyguard" soundtrack, died of spinal
meningitis; Former X-Clan member An-
thony Hardin passed due to complica-
tions from pneumonia. Heart problems
took Mercury of the Force MD's and the
Human Beat Box, formerly of the Fat
Boys. Rap legend Eazy-E, a man whom
mountains of hatred and attacks couldn't
destroy, succumbedto complications from
the AIDS virus.
Perhaps the biggest political changes
for the rap industry in '95 - something
that has been snowballing for some years
- has been the East and West Coast and
the growing appeal of socially conscious
rap lyrics. East/West rap wars pitting
Scarface's successors against followers
of N.W.A. have been replaced by rappers
refusing to show any coastal alliance.
Now, Notorious B.I.G. macs the Bay,
area, while Too Short draws listeners
along the East Coast.
Yet the end ofthis period ofgeographic
division won't be the end-all: It simply
clears the way for open realization of the
line of demarcation between the North
and South. WhileNorthern Yankees seem
to be drawn to somber gangsta (whatever
that is) and socially conscious rap, inhab-
itants of the former Confederacy seem
much more attracted to the shake yo' ass

beats inspiredby2 Live Crew. Few people
from up north have heard ofsuch artists as
Kilo, DJ Smurf or Lil' Mac & DJ Trick.
Yet these guys are getting much airplay in
the Southern states.
Whatever constitutes gangsta rap to
you, fewer and fewer rappers see them-
selves as being under its influence, while
others who hold onto the title have no
business doing so. Like Bone Thugs-n-
Harmony. Sure, these Eazy-E protigs
have garnered a mass following, but
gangsta rappers? The only true gangsta
rappers outthere are Spice-1andScarface.
Rappers have rightfully refused to be
fall guys and shoulder the blame for a
myriad ofsocial problems that have been
plaguing this nation before rap orhip hop
were ever thought about. In the same
vein, however, many rappers are rightly
acknowledging and accepting their re-
sponsibility to educate, inform and, at
times, even serve as moral guides. Such
rappers have always existed, ever since
the days of Gil Scott-Heron's declaration
that "The Revolution Will Not Be Tele-
vised." Ice Cube does it, as does Paris and
KAM. Even Ice-T did it a couple oftimes.
KRS-One does it, and when he does it,
does he ever do it. Sadly, he doesn't
receive the kind of mad props he deserves
for speaking some hellie stuff on such a
philosophical platform.
In the nine-nickel, many consumers
faced rappers who'd radically altered their
style to a more socially conscious form.
When Tupac Shakurreleased"Me Against
the World" last year, no one was prepared
for the painfully honest emotionalism his
lyrics displayed. Cuts like "Dear Mama,"
"So Many Tears" and the title track put
2PAC on a new level. Maybe jail did it to
him; maybe it was his then-girlfriend/
now-wife Keisha Morris. Whatever it
was, Ibhope the change continues.
Change is more often good than not. It
lets us know that we're alive, that our
music is alive and still kicking. Change
attests to creativity and an extension of
one's work into an entirely new realm.
That's the beauty of rap and hip hop -
they fit no mold, and what lies in their
future is never definite. Innovation
brought rap from the days of the L.A.
Dream Team to the time of Smif-N-
Wessun; that same vision will take the
industry even further.
Contrary to the claims of suburban
America, rap is important. It gives a voice-
less people a powerful means of commu-
nication; it gives an identity to the places
and people of an underclass America
many would sooner pretend doesn't ex-
ist. Hip-hop has a heart and a soul shared
by many of a multitude of races, classes,
religions and the like. No other musical
type has brought such a large and diverse
audience together.
Rap music tells of hate but speaks of a
longing for love. It brings to life the
despair many live in but tells the story in
a tongue of hope. It offers an escape from
the pain and sorrow in which it is born. It
speaks of a people's rage, humor and
humanity. It rides a series ofdichotomies,
protected by those who prefer to under-
stand its symbol-loaded nuances rather
than judge its outward appearance. Hip
hop, gangsta, hardcore, booty-bass, po-
litical, socially conscious-rap isamost
diverse and prolific child of the African
American nation. And no matter how
hardtheproudly ignoranttrytotrampleit,
the spirit of hip-hop will never be de-
stroyed.

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
This holiday season, Comedy Cen-
tral has officially killed-off "Mystery
Science Theater 3000," its formerly
prized possession and arguably the
most intellectually challenging pro-
gram on television. For the uniniti-
ated (though it's a bit late to start
explaining now), "MST3K" is built
upon the ingeniously simple concept
of a "why-haven't-I-thought-of-that"
kind: Three wisecracking dudes watch
bad movies and creatively heckle
them.
Thus, the humor of the show is
mostly referential, and you are ex-
pected to get the allusions. The
scriptwriters' minds circle freely in
some breakneck cultural orbits, unex-
pectedly shirting altitudes. During one
average "Godzilla" screening, we get
references to Ingmar Bergman, Bud-
dha, Dostoyevsky, drawstring pants,
"General Hospital," Nixon, Picasso,
REM, Ed Wood ... the show turns
into a postmodernist IQ test of sorts.
Though never quite embraced by
the mainstream, "MST3K" quietly
changed the face of television. Not
counting the 50,000-plus fan club on
the Internet, to which we'll return
later, it has paved the way for more of
the literary free-associating brand of
humor in sitcoms and spawned sev-
eral straight rip-offs - including
"Beavis and Butt-head" (not that I'm
trying to bring down the genius of
Mike Judge, mind you).
"MST3K"'s relationship with Com-
edy Central was always a little jittery.
Created by Jim Mallon and Joel
Hodgson as a one-time-only special
on a local Minneapolis station, the
show has since prided itself in having
a scrappy public-access look, regard-
less of the actual budget; its produc-
ing company, Best Brains, always re-
mained distanced from its distributor.
Comedy Central, on its side, con-
sistently created an impression of hav-
ing a very vague idea of what it had on
its hands. First, it tried to promote
"MST3K" as a children's show. For
some unexpected reason, kids and
Orson Welles jokes didn't click. Then,
the show was shoved into the mid-
night time slot, where it found a more
loyal audience. Now, reruns are ap-
pearing occasionally, with no appar-
ent pattern, at 2 a.m.; the usual time
slot is occupied by "Groovy Movie,"
the program which choice of films
heavily reminds one of"MST3K" --
without Mike and the robots.
Comedy Central's timing has
thrown everybody off: The show was
canceled around the time "Mystery
Science Theater 3000: The Movie"
was completed for Gramercy and -a
tie-in book was getting ready to go
into print. Declining comments and
ignoring plight of the show's most
famous and influential addicts (Rogert
Ebert and Jack Perkins, among oth-
ers), Comedy Central sources sug-

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Loyal fans mourn death of MST3K

gested that the cancellation (officially
due to "poor ratings") is part of the
new president's policy of total over-
haul: The channel has already can-
celed Bill Maher's "Politically Incor-
rect." Maher, however, was immedi-

And it looks like CC is going.to
have to deal with a completely differ-
ent brand of a scorned fan than, say,
the timid teens that tried to raise. the
(ultimately failed) campaign to keep
ABC's "My So-Called Life" on the
air. No, these people are driven by
genuine anger of someone betrayed
by a friend - with a dash of the
show's trademark acid humor. Take
"phone-a-thons" and "fax-a-thous"
orchestrated by the group's organiz-
ers - the acts of simultaneously
flooding Comedy Central switch-
boards, paralyzing the channel's com-
munications for a day. However, the
rebels do have a work ethic. Nobody
spouts death threats; the introductory
letter to newly subscribed "Caballers"
makes a specific point about being
polite to the CC staff.
"MST3K"'s audience may not be
the largest in the world, but, due to
several inherent qualities of the show,
it might just be the smartest. And
while Comedy Central's quick depi-
sion to abandon this part of its audi-
ence in favor of Cheech's and Chong's
"Up In Smoke" could be seen as an
alarming sign, the battle for the show's
resurrection might just have an unex-
pected effect.

ately snapped up by ABC. "MST3K"
has no such luck: "Best Brains" can't
shop for a new network untill997
because of some contractual obliga-
tions, and, frankly, the format doesn't
make the show an appealing syndica-
tion item.
Left without support, the show's
fans have sprung into action, at least
in cyberspace anyway. There are sev-
eral "Save 'MST3K"' groups pres-
ently on the Net, the most notable
being "The Cabal," reachable via e-
mail at blm{ddana.uoc.nau.edu.

SPRING BREAK
BACKPACKING TRIP TO
FLORIDA??
MARCH 2-9, OCALA NAT. FOREST
Also sponsored by the Outdoor Rec. Center this Winter:
- Feb. 18 Horseback Trail Ride * March 24 Rock Climbing
* April 5-7 Rock Climbing ' April 9 & 11 Bike Repair Clinic.
MANY MORE TRIPS IN SPRING/SUMMER!
ODR also rents equipment for
any outdoor event!
7~ RC. ~Call 764-3967 for more
~~j information.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING

-_ _- __

9

- ~' ,/*~4.. f

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r
; .:: %"
3;?
..
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N,..
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--
"

AN INVITATION TO INTERNATIONAL
STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS
TO
JOIN A SPRING BREAK TRIP TO
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Leaving: Sunday, March 3

Returning: Saturday, March 9

E'SEE THE MAJOR GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS AND
SIGHTS
'VISIT THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS
-MEET WITH A CONGRESSPERSON FROM
MICHIGAN
-ENJOY THE COMPANY OF STUDENTS AND
SCHOLARS FROM MANY NATIONS
Total Cost: $290.00; includes round-trip
transportation, housing, all meals except lunch
For further information, call the:
ECUMENICAL CENTER-92 1-CHURCH STREET
662-5529
co-sponsored by the U of M International Center

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THIS SUMMER??9
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sale irbiiwn J9aiEg
APPLICATION DEADLINE IS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16
Student Publications BldgeSenior Staff Office*420 Maynard

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