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March 14, 2001 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-14

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Film Fest madness!
The 39th Annual Ann Arbor Filh
Festival continues at the Michigan
Theater tonight with showings at 7,
8, 9:30 and 10 p.m. $7 per show, or
$50 for a weekly pass.
michigandaily.com /arts

(1 i~ktmOaitji
RTDS

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 14, 2001

8

Outkast to throw down rap,
funk for D-Town audience

Artist, photographef
explores ethnicities.

By Christian Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
Outkast's Andre 3000 and Big Boi are cosmopoli-
tan motherfuckers. In between chasing hoes and
smoking chronic, the Atlanta-based rappers listen to
all kinds of music, sit on their stoop and watch the
world go by, spend a lot of time talking about their
and their peers' problems, out-philosophize their
contemporaries and avoid
a gangsta cliches like Radiohead
avoid guitars. Augmenting
their pimp-posturing and coun-
Outkast trified drawl with cosmic
grooves and sonic sprawl,
The Fox Theater they've got big ears as well as
Tonight at 8 p.m. big you-know-whats, and
they're happy to tell you all
about it.
They're also popular. They
sell lots of records, they make
hit singles, their videos are
played on MTV, the press
fawns over them. In sum,
they've got both the talent to
make themselves worth hearing and the hooks to
make themselves heard - the very alliance of com-
merciality and content which from Beatles to Prince
to Nirvana has always made for classic rock 'n roll
records, the kind that fill top-100 polls, the kind that
both you and your kids will listen to, the kind that
aren't soon forgotten.
Outkast has made such a record. It's called
Stankonia, and since it was released last Halloween,
it's sold more than three million copies, peaked at
number two on Billboard's album chart and spawned
a pair of hit singles. It also topped the Village Voice's
Pazz & Jop critics' poll, which is perhaps the most
prestigious accolade the duo reeled in amid a flood
of kowtowing press. Last week, Outkast embarked
on a 29-city, six-week-long tour that has them swing-
ing by Detroit's Fox Theater tonight, dragging fellow
Atlantan Ludacris (of "What's Your Fantasy?" fame)
with them.
Not that Outkast need to play live. Beside making
them multimillionaires, Stankonia was a statement-
and-a-half, one which may very well have earned the
group a spot in the pantheon of great forward-think-
ing black musicians, right alongside the funksters
and R&B singers they grew up listening to.
"This thing keeps building," said Andre Benjamin
a/k/a Andre 3000 a/k/a just Dr6. "When I read Prince
books, he's always sayin' how he just wants to sing

like Smokey Robinson. And he was also a big
George Clinton fan. Prince was like the next step of
that, you know? And I'm a huge Prince fan, so to
even be put in the same sentence as any of those peo-
ple is a blessing. All I can say is that I love those peo-
ple to death, and I hope people love us like I love
them."
Dre has reason to expect comparisons with his
heroes, since Clinton in particular has always been
Outkast's spiritual and sonic forbear. Beginning with
their debut LP, (1994's
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, a record with an
appropriately Clinton-esque name), Outkast co-
opted both his astral funk sound and pimp poses.
Having gone all-out space-funk for 1996's ATLiens,
Aquemini (1998) found the duo edging toward with
hip-hop maximalism, drawing on new sounds and
elastic grooves and even dishing out a certified pop
hit (and prompting a stupid lawsuit) in "Rosa Parks."
Stankonia's full-on maximalism has less to do
with the group's influences than its resourcefulness.
The drum 'n bass-isms of "B.O.B. (Bombs Over
Bagdhad)" are but one sonic coup de grace that most
hip-hoppers couldn't pull off half as well as these
guys do, let alone within a song that's garnered big-
time airplay and been deemed buzz-worthy by MTV
"From listening to just straight drum 'n bass, you
kinda know what the street of America will accept,"
Dr6 explained. "Drum 'n bass or jungle in its sim-
plest form or in its origin will probably never work in
America, It might work in some clubs, but what you
do is take it and make it your own."
Mainstreamers as they are, Outkast have the pop
smarts to keep the experiments and appropriation
from turning into indulgent hip-hop pastiche. On
Stankonia, hooks abound. From the way Dre drawls
as he rhymes "pie" with "why" on "Gasoline
Dreams" to "Ms. Jackson"'s sing-song lamentations
to the slinky synths of "I'll Call Before I Come,"
you're sucked into their cosmic urban playground,
where the music's just as interesting as the sur-
roundings.
The record also works because Dr6 and Big Boi
are simply two entertaining and utterly talented
MCs. If their cosmopolitanism differentiates them
from less-ambitious contemporaries, they've gone
global because they lead such interesting lives and
manage to set them to music. There's some of the
requisite respect-yoself, etc., conceits, to be sure,
but Stankonia is by and large the soundtrack to
these guys' exploits: Apologizing to their ex's
mamas, cavorting around with their homeboys,
praising the ghetto women who keep them real

By Marie Bernard
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Arisa
Outcast demonstrates their thug appeal In a very,
very subtle way.
while foolin' around with groupies, waxing philo-
sophic about brothers and sisters whose dreams have
been deferred by pregnancy and drug arrests, not
giving a damn about the American dream while
keeping their own egos in check and not popping a
single cap in anyone's ass.
With so much going on, Stankonias sprawl won't
be easy to recreate live, but Outkast certainly aren't
rolling over and planning the sort of bullshit live
show that's become the hip-hop counterpart to the
State Fair classic rock gig. "For our show, it's going
to be me, Big Boi, our DJ, three background singers
and two guitarists," Dr6 said. "And we also have the
crowd-pleasers - dancers. We also got a nice light
show. I guess it's a little otherworldly. I really don't
know what you call it"
Call it Stank-love, live. "Stankonia," by the way,
refers to "the place from which all funky things
come." Rest assured, there'll be some funky things
coming from the Fox Theater tonight.
- Jason Birchmeier conducted the interview with
Andrd Benjamin that was excerpted for this article.

Over the past two decades,
Brooklyn-born Lorna Simpson has
come into her own as a gifted and
groundbreaking female photograph-
er. In the past,
her photography
has penetrated
Se ro such subjects as
SCenarios sexuality, con-
Museum of Art cepts of the
body, the
through May 13, 2001 A f r i c a n -
American expe-
rience and
human relation-
. i&',ships. Her cur-
rent exhibition
at the University
Museum of Art,
"Scenarios ,"
consists of three film-projection
works and a number of black-and-
white photographs..
The exhibit is both
artistically alluring
and technically
ingenious.
Simpson's work
explores both the
process by which
photography is done
and how we view
photographs. Her
pictures are often
accompanied by a
single line of text,
which reflects
Simpson's interestL
in how a person
"reads" a photo-
graph. Her prints of
remarkably normal
situations are never-
theless mentally
stimulating and
visually stunning.
Simpson was
originally trained in
photography at the "I'll have a pizza
School of Visual and yes, I do me
Arts in New York
City. She received her masters
degree in fine arts and film from
University of California at San
Diego. Her earlier work concentrates
more on the anonymous figure, but
her current exhibit seems to be a
more concrete examination of
human communication.
Recently, the focus of her work
has shifted from strict photography

a
real

OURF <oi <

to narrative film. In the exhibit, sil-
ver gelatin prints are displayed along
with the films they come from.
Simpson has both photographed and
filmed all of her subjects, and d
each with an admirable technical
expertise. "I enjoy the process of
film so much that it's a high in terms
of collaborative exchange," Simpson
said in an interview with the exhibit
curators. "But being able to set up
the camera and take photographs is
just an added extra."
The exhibit features three major
parts: "Call Waiti "
"Interior/Exterior," "Full/Emp "
and "Recollection." Each of these
works consist of a series of black and
white prints and a short film. The
photos ultimately seem to function
as almost a storyboard to the films,
although each photo is accompanied
by a short line of description: A for-
mally-dressed woman sits at a tele-
phone, and the words, "you think
you know what
you think gu
know?" are
tured under the
print. A Dorothy
Dandridg-
esque feale is
on a telephone
at a bar, a ciga-
;. rette in her
hand, and the
words, "listen-
ing to a ni
sage: 4:40 pm,"
are written
beneath her.
Simpson, who is
A f r i c an -
American, has
drawn her mod-
els from a vari-
ety of ethnic
backgrounds
and her fi s
feature cha -
Courtesy of Lorna Sfmpson ters speaking in
with everything ... C h i n e s e,
n everything." Punjabi and
Spanish.
"Call Waiting," which features a
number of people communicating to
one another by telephone, is some-
how both without a beginning, mid-
dle and end and also completely
enchanting. The viewer attempt&
decode the relationships between er
cast of characters, often when only
one side.of the terse conversation is
available.
"Recollection," the most recent of
the works showcased, spotlights the
methods of thought and the confu-,
sion which surround memory. Again,
our insights into her characters are
limited by the short scenes through:
which they reveal individual strug-
gles to recollect and event. "Ce
characters should continue on inM
tain guises, but they don't; and cer-
tain narratives should maintain their
continuity, but they don't," Simpson
said.
"Interior/Exterior, Full/Empty," is
a multi-projected video installation
Scenes are projected onto the walls
from a number of sources, leaving
the viewer captivated and turnin
the center of the room. We see:
rooms both as empty and when occu-
pied. "It's supposed to leave the:
audience in a slightly unexpected
place," Simpson said of the untradi-
tional characters in her works. "I
want to push the characters further
than the normal chatty scenes."
Simpson's films and photography
remind the viewer to think of filnm
noir - and Simpson said that she
has been influenced by films of the
1930s, in particular, those of C
Gavras, Jean-Luc Godard and Jean

Pierre Gorin. As she has done with
everything, however, Simpson has
captured this genre and discovered it
for her own.
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