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January 18, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-18

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8A- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 18, 2000

s
"

IT 14 U:\ 7, 7- rl
, 'C0DL- ,' OF DA FUN-'j..

Layers of sound bring
life to Death in Vegas

If listeners can overlook the cliched
thematic content, "Tha G Code"
stands as an excellent album explod-
ing with Mannie Fresh's dense elec-
tro-funk and the Juvenile's smooth
lyrical flow. Each of the 16 tracks fea-
ture a dense layer of percussive
rhythm and plenty of sampled funk
staples such as horns, synthesizers.
guitars and record scratching. Unlike
the minimal beats of producers such
as Dr. Dre to which even the elderly
could shake their asses, Cash Money
producer Mannie Fresh piles up the
beats and disregards standard 4/4 tim-
ing, laying down a scrambled template
of funk for his rappers to flow across

Juvenile
Tha G Code
Cash Money Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Birchmeier

with their
equally erratic
rhymes.
While the
creative
groove con-
structions of
Mannie Fresh
may not be
that unique to
listeners famil-
iar with the
electronic funk

them hoes just need to holla for that
big long Oscar Meyer." In this song,
Juvenile and Mannie Fresh return to
the style of pornographic rapping
practiced most famously by 2 Live
Crew and Easy-E as they boast about
how they "got that fire" and how they
don't have problems getting dates.
Even though this sort of thematic
content may seem appalling under
analysis, it probably won't turn away
many listeners. Juvenile's booty
anthem from 1999, "Back That Azz
Up" was the song that propelled him
to stardom, thanks in part to a colorful
video featuring countless women
showcasing their derrieres for the jew-
elry-clad cash money rapper as they
wave handfuls of crisp bills. As anoth-
er example, go to a party and watch
the dance floor when this song gets
played to see the point I'm trying to
make.
So even though many may object to
the vane image and "Oscar Meyer"
mentality that fills "Tha G Code," this
deviant behavior has become the norm
within the world of rap. In fact, it has
ever since LL Cool J stood atop a car
in thick gold chains on his 1987 album
"Bigger and Deffer" and Easy-E told
women "just don't bite it." Juvenile
simply functions as the latest succes-
sor to the thematic tendency inherent
in America's most popular music
genre.
For those who may not feel com-
fortable identifying with the image
portrayed by the Cash Money crew,
Mannie Fresh's creative injection of
old school electro-funk into the often-
formulaic template of hip-hop compo-
sition compensates for the unsatisfac-
tory thematic content. Perhaps the
popularity of "Back That Azz Up" can
be attributed to Mannie Fresh's beats
rather than the hormone infused lyrics
or the eye-catching video. Though this
theory is unlikely, the primary reason
millions of listeners will enjoy this
album - whether they're conscious
of it or not - can most likely be attrib-
uted to the funk which often lingers in
the background of the songs rather
than the lyrics which fill the fore-
ground.

The crashing sound that can be
heard at the end of "Neptune City,"
the closing track of Death in Vegas'
latest, "The Contino Sessions," may
very well be the sound of musical cat-
egories toppling to the ground. This
closing moment bookends nicely with
the album's opening track, "Dirge."
This song, penned by writers/pro-
ducers Richard Fearless and Tim
Holmes is a nearly six-minute pro-
gression from a simple guitar strum
and angelic "la la la" vocal refrain to
a cacophonic swirl of guitar noise and
keyboard effects. "Dirge's" pounding
climb to this frenzied mix of techno
and punk elements stands as a blue-
print for the rest of the album's eight
tracks.
On "Soul Auctioneer," guest vocal-
ist Bobby Gillespie spouts lyrics that
sound sufficiently poetic and off-the-
cuff to be reminiscent of Patti Smith
in delivery, but
the fact that this
delivery goes on
top of a beat that
Death ic Vegas could have been
cribbed from a
The Contino Sessions Tricky album is a
Time Bomb Recordings big deal.
Reviewed by And though
Daily Arts Writer there's some
Brian Egan serious program-
ming being done
here, all the button pushing is infused
with a punk savvy that prevents the
proceedings from growing too sterile
or safe. The music on "The Contino
Sessions," as smartly constructed as it
is, nonetheless always feels as though
it teeters on the brink of chaos, and
walking that edge for 48 minutes
proves to be an exhilirating experi-
ence.
The punk spirit of "The Contino
Sessions" is embodied by a guest
appearance from the godfather him-
self, as Iggy Pop contributes lyrics
and vocals to the naughtily sinister
"Aisha." Pop brings his best Michigan
drawl and gleeful bad-guy persona to
this murderous tale, leaving it panting
and smoking on the ground with ven-
emous attitude dripping off of it.
In keeping with that punk spirit,

of electro artists such as Ectomorph
and Afrika Bambaataa or ghetto tech
artists such as DJ Assault and DJ
Godfather, it is quite different from
what most mainstream hip-hop listen-
ers are used to hearing on MTV or the
radio. There aren't any booty anthems
like "Back That Azz Up" or "Tha G
Thang," but the funk runs even deeper
here than it did on Juvenile's last
album, "400 Degrees."
Instead of songs about booty shak-
ing, Juvenile and the rest of his Cash
Money crew - BG, Hot Boys, Lil
Wayne and Big Thymers - spend the
majority of the album boasting about
their newfound fame and all the vane
accessories that come along with it.
When Juvenile raps about "acting like
a nigga that ain't never had shit" and
his comrades rap about how they "got
so many carrots I can feed ten rabbits/
got so much ice I cool down when I
wear it," the album's underlying
theme is overly apparent.
The lyrical content saturating "Tha

G Code" caters directly towards the
lower-class urban minority idealism
about escaping the ghetto and attain-
ing wealth, power, fame, respect and
women. Juvenile and his crew never
rap about the path out of the ghetto or
about the amount of work necessary
to do so, they simply rap about a
lifestyle of money, fame and sex with-
in the ghetto. It is a fairly slim proba-
bility that many of the millions buy-
ing Juvenile's albums will be able to
follow in his footsteps, but one can
safely assume that most of these lis-
teners will revel in the idealistic urban
fantasy this album represents.
Though Juvenile rarely resorts to
such classic illogical rap motifs about
violence, an NWA-like mentality does
show its ugly face on tracks such as
"Fuck That Nigga." On this sad track,
Juvenile's ego bloats a bit too far as
his rhymes cater to the BG's chorus of
"man, pop that nigga/ man, kill that
bitch/ man, shoot that nigga/ man,

spank that bitch." Should this be taken
seriously? Or is this just more of the
playful rap proclamations practiced
long ago by casualties such as Easy-E
and modern day casualties like 01'
Dirty Bastard?
On other tracks another unsavory
motif about unacceptable sexist male
egotism appears from time to time.
Whenever any of the Cash Money
crew raps about "slinging their Oscar
Meyer," they aren't referring to pork
products. It is a metaphor that finally
gets defined on the opening mono-
logue to the track "I Got That Fire." In
the context of an intriguing fictional
skit, a reporter asks one of the Cash
Money crew what an Oscar Meyer is.
The respondent fires off several mean-
ings for the metaphor, including "a
bunch of paid mother fuckers - hot
boys - that got the rap industry on
lock" and "a big old black wiener
that's on fire." He then addresses his
listeners, saying "if you want that fire,

there are no bridges or codas to be
found on this album. In fact, nearly
every song centers on a singular motif
that is expanded upon instrumentally
as it is repeated. Thus, such a motif
finds itself firmly lodged in the listen-.
er's unconsciousness while being
manipulated as to become almost
unrecognizable. It's as if the Ramones
broke into a DJ's practice space and
hijacked the equipment to create a
handful of six-minute punk techno
epics.
All facetiousness aside, Death in
Vegas' "The Contino Sessions" really
is very much akin to the music of the
Ramones. Both groups take what they
like of music in its barest essence and*
throw it all into the mix on endless
repeat. the idea being that the result-
ing product is inherently more inter-
esting because it is stripped of all that
is superfluous.
Indeed, this album is all about
hooks--beats, basslines and instru-
mental leads (in addition to vocals) all
carry weight here regardless of what
genre they can be traced to. That, ulti-
mately, is the point of these songs,#
and why, at the end of the day, this
album matters.
Whereas artists like Beck look to
bring elements of various genres and
styles together to create a sort of
hybrid musical form, Death in Vegas,
it seems, would rather obliterate the
notion of genre altogether. And
they're off to a pretty good start on
"The Contino Sessions." After all, "la
la la" is pretty much the same thin*
no matter how you sing it.

Swedish rockers are no Deadbeats

This band certainly has managed to
come up with a comprehensive package
of band name, music and lyrics. Calling
themselves The Deadbeats, the group
peddles extremely catchy and raunchy
MC 5-style rock and roll. And with
lyrics such as, "Hey baby won't you stay
for a while? Hey baby I got no class, but
I know you like that style," you know
these boys did indeed give a lot of
thought as to what sort of lyrics would
suit a band calling itself "The
Deadbeats!"
There's plenty of songs with reference
to playing cards, fast cars, juke boxes,
drinking and women. Over and over
again the group keeps returning to these
themes across its 13 track release. The
group also consistently manages to fol-

I*

T Yo

hat

The Deadbeats
The Deadbeats
Feec Up/
Necropo sRecorcs
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Wrter
Adlin Rosli

low this up with an
endless supply of
memorable bluesy
riffs played through
super fuzzed out
amplifiers. The
trashy guitar tones
achieved on this
album are absolute-
ly delicious! You
could have sworn

The guitars alone may be great, but the
singing and the rhythm section hold their
own pretty well, too. There are plenty of
catchy vocal hooks that quickly make
their way into your unconsciousness and
keep playing in your head long after the
CD is over. The rhythm section does a
terrific job holding everything together,
as well. Overall, the group sounds like it
was on fire and having a blast recording
this release.
What is most surprising about The

Deadbeats, however, is not the quality
of the material but the fact that the band
does not hail from where you might
anticipate to find such music. The
Deadbeats is actually a Swedish band.
Who would expect such raucous music
from the land of melodic death metal
and meatballs?
If you're in the mood for something
that will keep your head bobbing for a
straight 36 minutes and 26 seconds, then
you've got to check these Swedes out!

at

these boys must have
Mudhoney's equipment backN
Seattle group was at its prime.

stolen
when the

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