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November 20, 2001 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-20

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 9

Amethyst Rock Star, Saul
Williams; American Recordings
By David Kerastas
Daily Arts Writer
It is usually refreshing to listen to
' a musician who does not allow him-
self to be bounded by formats. For
the past few years, b-boy/poet/actor
Saul Williams has been producing
various singles, mostly for compila-
tions, that bridge the gap between
hip-hop and slam poetry in order to
redefine music. Those who have
eeped his cuts on the first Lyricist
Lounge album and The Unbound
Project, or witnessed his perfor-
mance in the movie "Slam," can
attest to his ability to create music
that is unique, passionate and mean-
ingful.
But for the hip-hop heads and
poetry lovers anticipating more of
the same from Saul (myself includ-
ed), Amethyst Rock Star will be a
disappointment. The album's l I
tracks are all assembled in the same
basic way: Long lines of poetic
verse backed by a simple beat and
electronic effects. Points must be
given for creativity. His eerie beats,
composed mainly of brash violin,
guitar samples and heavy drums, are
unlike anything I've ever heard.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to
appreciate the musical aspect of his
songs without ignoring his erratic
erse. His style has changed much
from that employed on his intelli-
gent freestyles in "Slam." Williams
is at his best when he adheres to
rhythm and melody, which he occa-
sionally does in songs like "Robe-
son" and "1987." He likes to use
words as clubs to beat his listeners
M!ssundaztood, Pink;
Arista Records
By Devon Thomas
For the Daily
Pink's sophomore effort M!ssun-
daztood finds the 20-year-old Penn-
sylvanian acting less like an R&B
bad girl and more like a pop-rock
princess. Those expecting to find a
"Can't Take Me Home Part II" are
sadly mistaken. Fans of her first
album must come into M!ssundaz-
ood with clean ears. Gone are the
urban "ching ching, bling bling" ref-
erences - a new direction is evi-
dent. The once urban Pink has gone
suburban, trading in the Fubu for
t leather and lace. Of the 14 tracks
that grace the album, only a few are
R&B oriented. A far cry from her
first record, which featured no rock
tracks whatsoever, here they are pre-
dominate, though Lilith Fair it isn't.
he production on Pink's latest
offering is as slick as anything on
TRL ("Total Request Live"). The
hip-hop drum patterns that she rode
to superstardom during her debut are
surprisingly mute; in its place are
electric guitars and folk-flavored
acoustics. Also absent are many
dance tracks. The only solid dance
trak is her first single "Get The
Party Started," a post-psychedelic
'60s-meets-21st-century romp. The
est of the subject matter is more
introspective.
"It ain't easy growing up in World
War III," she croons. There's a sur-
prising sense of vulnerability dis-
played throughout the album. Here
we find Pink reflective and confes-
sional. She's a bad girl, but she has
feelings. She sings about life,'loss

over the head. This may make for
interesting poetry, but it makes for
bad music. My favorite track is "La
La La," where Williams reverts back
to his hip-hop roots and offers some
tight battle-rhymes. Occasionally he
focuses on telling a story, but he
prefers to spout off images and
rhetoric in the fashion of today's
wannabe-progressive rappers who
aren't nearly as enlightened as they
claim. Williams certainly has a
knack for crafting beautiful images,
but they lose their meaning when
mechanically piled on top of each
other. At times he seems deep. More
often, he sounds like the novice tal-
ent abusing open-mic nights in Ann
Arbor cafes.
It is a shame to see an artist fall so
far below his obvious potential for
expression. It seems that William's
best work comes out when he is
making music for somebody else's
compilation, not for himself.
Grade: C+

and longing. Lyrically, Pink has
never been more heartfelt and
revealing. Everything from parental
hardship to sleazy ex-girlfriends is
discussed. Vocally, Pink sounds
assured and confident. In "Don't Let
Me Get Me," Pink makes an effort
to distance herself from her teen
contemporaries: "tired of being
compared to damn Britney
Spears/she's so pretty, that just ain't
me." Ironically, in her distancing she
winds up sounding more TRL-esque
on her latest album than her last.
M!ssundaztood is more like a
masquerade. If she isn't sounding
like Tori Amos or Natalie Imbruglia,
she's a dredless Lauryn Hill ("Even-
tually") or a female Eminem ("Fami-
ly Portrait"). Where Pink lacks in
artistic coherence, she makes up for
in creativity. In "My Vietnam" she
correlates her perils to the sounds of
detonating bombs. Towards the end
of the song is a sonic interpolation
of Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled
Banner." While introspection domi-
nates a majority of the album, bitter-
ness never subsides. A healthy level
of will power and optimism is pre-
sent. Fans of the old man-eating
Pink from the first album will enjoy
"Respect," where she disenfranchis-
es potential "playas" and empowers
her fellow femme fatales. The over-
all vibe of M!ssundaztood is less
aggressive and more self-deter-
mined. She takes an empowered role
in such songs as "18 Wheeler" and
the radio-ready "Just Like A Pill."
Overall, Pinks latest Album is an
introspective charmer that shows the
promise and versatility evident in a
young and rising star.
Grade: B-

Bulletproof Wallets, Ghostface Killah;
Epic Records

By Dustin J. Seibert
Daily Arts Writer
Ghost is a pain in the ass.
Sure he singlehandedly saved the Wu-Tang
Clan from the depths of has-been hell where they
were headed. Sure his Supreme Clientele album
was one of the best to come out of the year 2000.
Sure he has had the most successful solo career of
all the members of the aforementioned clan. Yet,
you would think that with such a fan base that he
would do his fans the courtesy of giving us a

decent track listing on the back of his albums.
Pulling the same mess he did with'Supreme
Clientele, there is once again an inaccurate, out-
of-order listing of the song titles, leaving us to
figure which track is which.
First off, if you are purchasing the album with
anticipation of the Ghost/Slick Rick collabo, then
you may wanna put it back on the shelf. "The
Sun" didn't make it on the American version of
the album, despite the fact that it remains listed as
the first track. It is a decent joint, so if you must
have it, let the Internet be your guide. Ghostface
has the extremely rare privilege to string random-
ass words together and spit completely nonsensi-
cal bars and still win the approval of the crowd.
Sure enough, Bulletproof
Wallets is the third solo
descent into his unique,
Clark Wallaby-laden world.
With few understandable
lyrics to his credit, Ghost-
face's producers can either
make or break the song. He
found quite a worthy band of
trackmasters for the album
a couple of newbies and
some well-loved veterans.
Wu-Tang's fearless leader
and chief producer, The
:a RZA, has his hand at four
tracks on the album, the
most notable being "Max-
4 ' ine," a crack story that has
Ghost and Raekwon flowing
over ill horn-based produc-
tion that is reminiscent of
the Clan days of old. Rela-
tive unknown Chris Liggio

,produces the heavily sampled "Ghost Showers," a
track that aims for the feel of S.C.'s hit single
"Cherchez LaGhost." This is the album's only
club track, so expect it to be bangin' soon on a
dance floor near you. The Alchemist has the most
impressive turn on the album, producing one of
the it's best tracks, "The Forest," a sordid fairy
tale that was probably conceived during an acid
trip.
The R&B tracks on the album, "Love Session"
featuring Ruff Endz and the lead single "Never
Be The Same Again," with balladeer Carl -Thomas,
don't particularly fit Ghost's personality,-and they
basically interrupt the feel of the album. As is the
case with the latter two songs, there are a number
of tracks that are almost completely removed frdm
some original song ..: a production move that is
not always effective. In addition, at 16 tracks with
five skits and a number of very short songs, the
entire album clocks in at an extremely short 46
minutes. Had he killed the aforementioned skits
and extended some of the song tracks, it would be
considerably more impressive.
To accept Ghost is to accept that he is like no
other hip-hop artist; so unique-that the oddball
things that you find on his album don't require too
many questions. Still, he didn't come with near
the power of his debut Ironman, nor did he even
match the finesse of Supreme Clientele. In the
closing weeks of a dismal year for music, howev-
er, folks will appreciate this album - an other-
wise satisfying morsel of the old Wu-Tang flavor
that we will probably never hear again. If you are
an avid fan and you can get past Ghost's ramblings
and the screwed-up track listing, then go 'head
and buy that sucker.

Grade: B-

da

Gravity Kills gets Royal Oak
crowd aching for new record

By Sonya Suthorland
Daily Arts Writer
What happens to bands that break
onto the radio playlists with that one
sweet single and three years later peo-

lyn Manson. Often filled with Filter
as Nails rip-offs, the world seemed to
forget Gravity Kills devastatingly
catchy riffs and flowing vocals, mov-
ing forward to happy go lucky pop.
Luckily for those with the capacity
to enjoy more forceful sounds a la
techno -industrial beat, Gravity Kills
has been keeping it real. Last
Wednesday, they opened for Pig Face,

c
.
Gravity
Kills
Royal Oak
Music Theatre
November 14, 2001

ple are scratch-
ing their heads
saying, "Yeah
what ever hap-
pened to those
guys with that
really clever
name?" The
answer is simple
-- as a commer-
cial product
pushed by a
m a i n s t r e a m
record label they
were probably
flushed out into

treating Royal Oak to their steady
crunching guitars, melodic beats and
lead singer Jeff Scheel's abs (which,
by the way, rival those of reigning
washboard champ Brandon.Boyd of
Incubus).
With keyboardist/bassist Doug Fir-
ley arriving on stage, cigarette in
hand, Russian-esque fur hat on head,
followed by shirtless Scheel, it soon
became apparent that Gravity Kills
hasn't spent their time moping in the
lack of their public exposure.
Opening with "Love, Sex, and
Money," a new track off their soon to
be released Superstarved, Gravity
Kills has obviously taken their time to
perfect an already distinguishable and
forceful sound. Combining some of
their older favorites, "Inside,"
"Blame" and "Never," from their self-
titled debut, with a preview of their
newer, tighter tracks, the boys even
paused to play their most well known
single "Guilty," which Scheel
addressed as "that song, you know,
from that movie, with those seven
thins."

the sea of boy bands and third genera-
tion nirvana rips, pawning their gold
records for drugs. On the other hand,
if you are like Gravity Kills and you
have talent, instead of a boardroom of
s,. ,"" D n rn - Qhi.

' y' ".

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