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October 23, 2001 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-23

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A The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 23, 2001- 9

The Great Depression, DMX;
Def Jam Records
By Dustin J. Seibert
Daily Arts Writer

With DMX's long-awaited fourth
release comes much speculation con-
cerning his burning fire. Many have
dismissed him as falling off the high
horse that led him to be the only artist
ever to top the Billboard charts with
two albums in the same year. The cine-
matic masterpiece "Exit Wounds,"
which hosted his first starring role, did-
n't fare well at the box office; rumor
has it that he is on the fritz with his
Ruff Ryder click, and this new release
has been repeatedly delayed and
renamed more times than Ol' Dirty
Bastard.
Interestingly enough, despite its title,
this is unarguably his most lighthearted
album to date. Earl Simmons makes it
a point to get to his audience on a more
personal level this time around. "I Miss
You" is an ode to X's deceased family
members, featuring Faith Evans in a
near obligatory R&B hook. "When I'm
Nothing" addresses the fake ones who
won't have anything to do with X if he
ever falls off; the song samples
Stephanie Mills' hit "Whatcha Gonna

Do," and even features the songstress
herself on the hook. The track is a
prime example of a production-style
very different from the old DMX.
Production on the album is generally
pretty weak - much of the album is
produced by Dame Grease, who many
would argue was a main factor in the
lackluster quality of his 1999 album
And Then There Jis X. P. Killer Tracks
lends his usual ominous style to the
album, producing the menacing
"Damien III" but falling short overall.
Swizz Beats, who had much credit due
for X's initial success with his trade-
mark style, proves that he has drastical-
ly fallen off with only two

disappointing tracks.
X can never be accused of having
the most introspective lyrics, but his
rough, grimy voice and bleak tales
could be considered groundbreaking
and have been the target of much imita-
tion (see: Ja Rule) His famous sacri-
lege returns on this album, with the
obligatory end-of-the-album combo of
a prayer followed by a song that asks
for spiritual answers. There remains the
ardor combined with the violence in
his lyrics that never changed much
through the course of his three-year-
long career.
If fans were not feeling his last
album, then chances are they will not
appreciate this one at all. He has made
a large departure from that angry,
almost excessive character that we
came to love. Perhaps this is just a tran-
sition in life for him; unfortunately,
most music fans don't care much for
change, and this is why so many acts
fall into obscurity after their so-called
"sophomore slumps." He will push
many units based on his loyal fan base
alone, but we may be seeing a happier,
friendlier DMX from now on, an
almost oxymoronic concept that likely
won't garner much support.
Grade: C+

Expansion Team, Dilated Peoples; Capitol Records
By Dustin J. Seibert
Daily Arts Writer
The underground's reigning poster children, California-
based hip-hop trio Dilated Peoples are almost standard on
mixtapes and hip-hop compilations. Evidence, Rakaa Iri-
science, and DJ Babu pride themselves on keeping the art of
hip-hop pure by not selling out to the mainstream, and it
appears to be working with their sophomore joint Expan-
sion Team, a follow-up to last year's impressive, yet slept-on
debut The Pla form.
The album consists largely of their trademark battle
rhyming, using colloquialisms and-catchphrases in that
unique manner that only signifies their uncorrupted mar-
riage with the microphone. Evidence has an intense, dark
rhyme style that can be evidenced (no pun intended) on the
equally intense Alchemist-produced "Panic." Iriscience has
a calmer, but no less thought-provoking flow style; listen to
him wax poetic over Brother ?uestlove's drums in "War," a
track that folks may want to give some attention to with all
the current drama going on. DJ Babu, not to be undone as
the only non-rhyming member of the group, absolutely kills,
it on the one and two's, even producing a couple of songs
along the way, including the piano-laden "Pay Attention,"
and the heavily sampled "Proper Propaganda."
The Alchemist makes an impressive return to the boards
on this album. having been the primary producer of the first
record. There is, however, a much more diverse line of pro-
ducers this time around, including the legendary DJ Pre-
mier, on the lukewarm "Clockwork." Da Beatminerz, still
healing from their own disappointing album, produces
"Trade Money," another okay track that leaves something t1c
be desired. Evidence even tries his hand at a number of

DJ-Kicks, Truby Trio; Studio K7

tracks, including the banging "Heavy Rotation," featuring a
shining lyrical contribution from The Roots' Black Thought.
Dilated Peoples practice one very underrated method in
their music making: Consistency. This album is really no
better or worse than the first, and the sound and flow have
,not changed at all ... a general benefit of staying under-
ground; there is no reason to switch it up and sell out for
the sake of appealing to a more diverse crowd. Many would
argue, however, that their lack of any commercial appeal is
not beneficial to a well-rounded hip-hop album. Regard-
less, they continue to hold it down firmly representing a
state that doesn't yield as much appreciation for their style.
Fans of the first album, or just those looking for a nice,
pure hip-hop album to wet their tastes, need not search any
further.
Grade: B

By Jeremy Kressmann
Daily Arts Writer
Chill out music seems to be all the rage these days. If
you go into any remotely trendy eatery/coffeeshop/cloth-
ier, you are likely to hear some variety of an ever-so-mel-
low, soothing, hipster type ambient music. Triiby Trio
like this distinction - they even tried really hard to
sound extra exotic and cool by keeping those wacky
umlaut dots in their name. The group is a collection of
German producers Rainer Triby, Christian Prommer,
and Roland Appel. Together they compose Trilby Trio -
a dynamic threesome that is involved in all aspects of
the electronic scene: Remixing, producing and DJing.
Think of them as the DJ equivalent of the, "Super
Friends." The group is apparently gaining clout in
Europe where they have been recruited by various dance
artists for a multitude of remixes. In what might be
described by some as "Jazz-House" and by otiers as
"Nu-Jazz" the Trio provides us with 15 extremely mel-
low tracks of chill-ariffic splendor.*
DJ-Kicks is a warm and jazzy listening experience.
The lush samba beats, smooth jazz loops and quirky
effects set the right tone for some downtempo chilling.
Yet interspersed throughout are numerous annoying ver-
bal samples - someone reading a folktale or poem for
example. The album consistently is right at the cusp of
settling into a nice groove when the moment is sucked
away by a weird vocal sample - things like folktales of
Egyptian princesses and other random verbal diarrhea.

We Caine From Beyond,
Various Artists; Razor and Tie
By Kiran Divvela
Daily Arts Wrier

This unifies the album because they all
have that tight sound that is so represen-
tative of the West. You really can't
blame him though. With all the wack
rappers on East Coast, the West seems
to be the only place where real talent is
nowadays.
With his indie hip-hop connections,.

You might be asking yourself where
the title of this who's who of hip-hop
came from. In addition to being the
name of this collection, We Came
from Bevond is an influential hip-
hop radio show in Los Angeles. '
Mike Nardone has essentially
been a talent scout, giving virtually.
unknown groups airtime. He is cred-
ited as being one of the first to put
Cypress Hill and Hieroglyphics on
the air. 'This compliation is a culmi-
nation of over a decade of giving a
chance to new groups. It also shows
that Nardone has made more than a
few friends in his 13 years on the air.
For the most part Nardone is
locale-biased. All groups (with the
obvious exception of the Beastie
Boys) are Califiornia born and bred.
Atomic, Lit; RCA Records
By Keith N. Dusenberry
Daily Arts Writer
You know when you microwave
something and the edges come out
way too hot and the center is still
frozen? That's what Lit does with
the songs on Atomic. They wrote
some mediocre little dishes and
then had their producer nuke 'em.
The result is a collection of over-
produced MTV-hopefuls with
ridiculously over-cooked surfaces
and nothing interesting at the core.
Heated at the proper settings,

Nardone has put together a group of
artists that are representative of every-
thing good with hip-hop. Never before
released tracks from Dilated Peoples,
Blackalicious and Jurassic 5 give this
must-buy status. And tracks from rela-
tively unknown groups such as Count
Bass D and AWOL-One demonstrates
the commitment to underground
scene that is the basis of his
show.
In essence, that's what this
album is, a rehashing of the
show. Whether it's production
(Nardone is a very capable DJ
in his own right) or that feeling
you get when you hear some-
thing on the radio for the first
time that you're sure none of
your friends know about, its all
there. Who knows, if you're a
fledgling DJ or rapper, send him
your tape and you might be on
'z:: the air.
Grade: B+
wouldn't matter who they con-
vinced to help them sing, since the
backing part is so small and low in
the mix as to be all but unnotice-
able.
This record deserves the dreaded
grade of triple-C: Crappy Corporate
Cock-rock.
Grade: C-

With a genre like Acid-Jazz and Jazz-Fusion, the album
is all about setting a certain mood -- the mood is impor-
tantto convey the downtempo tone of a chill album. The
random samples merely clutter the consistency of that
mood. Strange vocal samples aside, DJ-Kicks does a
very adequate job of putting us in the right mood. The
Latin and Brazilian touches also add just the right
amount of spice to their sound. They help DJ-Kicks
come across as the audio equivalent of a bowl of Camp-
bell's Soup -- warm, satisfying but definitely not cut-
ting edge when it comes to soup products.
Grade: C+

more haunting than it already is.
This is no easy task, as the original
skirts the line between genius and
insanityso closely that it's almost
impossible to imitate without sound-
ing contrived. This quartet, named
The Section, does it though, without
bastardizing the material too much.
They haven't simply taken Radio-
head sheet music and played it,
they've essentially matched the
melancholy feeling and sense of
estrangement that is weaved
throughout their music. In addition
to this mood, their sound is very
tight and well orchestrated. For the
most part, nothing is out of place
and nothing feels overdone. Fortu-
nately, they didn't feel the need to
overcompensate to try to impress the
group they're honoring, a character-
istic common to most tribute
albums.
As good as this tribute is, it's still
just that, a tribute. There isn't any-
thing new to this album other than
the instruments used to play the

music. Also, Radiohead is a band
miles ahead of any other rock band
in regards to both style and sub-
stance. This tribute goes against that
sentiment in that it really doesn't
break any new ground. They would
have benefited with input from the
band themselves. Regrettably, they
have no affiliation to them at all.
Also, why are contemporary
artists receiving accolades like a
tribute album while they're still
making records? This kind of praise
should be reserved for bands that
have been around for years. It seems
a bit premature to do a tribute to a
band that released a new CD a few
months ago.
If you're a Radiohead fan, you're
probably going to get this regardless
of what anyone says about it. If not,
this could conceivably be the gate-
way album to ease you into their
music. Either way, you'll be satis-
fied.

some of these songs could mature
as passable mainstream rock.
"Sunny Weather" could work as a
Fountains of Wayne-style retro pop
number if the lyrics weren't so atro-
cious, and "Lipstick and Bruises"
has a cheesy catch to its instrumen-
tal sections and choruses but
these are hardly enough justifica-
tion for forking over your hard-
earned $16.
And I would pay $16 to know
who thought that Steven Tyler's
guest backing vocals add anything
to "Over My Head." (Apparently no
one told Lit that Gwen Stefani is
the reigning duet diva.) But'lt

Strung Out on OK Computer:
The String Quartet Tribute to
Radiohead, Various Artists; Vita-
min Records
By Kiran Divvela
Daily Arts Writer
A cellist, two violinists and a vio-
list player took on the difficult task
of making OK Computer sound even

Grade: B-

I I -
The 2002 Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
Teach English in junior and senior high schools in Japan

Learn about Japanese culture and people
Gain international experience

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- !PJI liii ~] a, I ~J a 1 L~

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