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September 12, 2002 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-12

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10B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, September 12, 2002
'3 Feet and Rising'ahip-hop masterpiece

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine-

- Thu

By Scott Serilla
Daily Music Editor

Producer and visionary "Prince
Paul" Huston once told "Rolling
Stone" that there would come a
time in hip hop when you wouldn't
be.able to blind the kids with flash,
when hopefully we'd all choose
mind-expanding substance over
generic thug posing and pointless
arrogance. If that revolution ever
comes, Prince Paul and De La
Soul's masterpiece may finally get
its due.
Released in 1989, 3 Feet High
And Rising was actually expected
to have single-handedly sparked
- the upheaval itself. It was a great
and funny party album that secret-
ly had something to say.
Endlessly inventive, relentlessly
positive, it was a record densely
packed with laid back, but impres-
sive wordplay and an astounding
assortment of samples. With every-
thing from standard P-Funk and

James Brown to unthinkable fron-
tiers of Johnny Cash, Hall and
Oates and yes, even yodeling, it
was a debut that sounded like noth-
ing else, then or now.
Hailing from Long Island, the
trio of Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove
and DJ Pasemaster Mase had
formed De La Soul while in high
school. The threesome soon
became associat-
e d with New
York's loose con-
federation of pro-
gressive rappers
and DJs, Native
Tongues, whose
ranks included
Queen Latifah, the Jungle
Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest and
Afrika Bambaataa.
Production master Prince Paul
had already established himself as
a MC with New York act
Stetsasonic before he convinced
Tommy Boy to let him take the
young, idealistic rappers into the

studio.
Picking up where Public
Enemy's legendary Bomb Squad
had left off with the heavily layered
production of the 1988 classic, "It
Takes A Nation Of Millions To
Hold Us Back," Huston and Mase
began raiding obscure records.
Anything seemed fair game; bits of
a French lesson for "Transmitting
Live From the
Moon" and other
.wFom rap albums, '60s
the rock, pop and
Vaul soul for the sonic
montage of
"Cool Breeze on
The Rocks."
In terms of sheer eclecticism it is
rivaled only by the Beastie Boys'
own 1989 contribution to forward-
thinking alt-rap, "Paul's Boutique."
While most rappers were content
with just stealing George Clinton's
grooves, De La went one step fur-
ther, grabbing Dr. Funkenstein's
absurdist wit and psychedelic
imagination as well as his funky
beats. The group's humor was irre-
pressible, spilling over from every
track into what became the very
first hip hop skit, here in the form
of a goofy game show that keeps
popping up throughout the record.
Other comedy highlights include

"A Little Bit Of Soap," a tirade
against body odor; the bizarre
audience chant "Do As de la Does"
and the Native Tongues sex jam
"Buddy," which featured a very
young Q-Tip busting out before
Tribe had released a record.
But the boys had a message too,
proclaiming the beginning of "the
Daisy Age," a new period of posi-
tivity and hopeful optimism for
hip-hop's potential. The record
didn't ignore the urban problems
that traditionally fed hardcore its
material, it just refused to glorify
them.
"Ghetto Thang" and "Say No
Go" dealt with issues without
preaching or ranting, "The Magic
Number" and "Me Myself and I"
quickly promoted the group's
sunny outlook without sounding
excessively sappy and were still
bouncy enough to be club hits.
Meanwhile "Jenifa Taught Me
(Derwin's Revenge)" and "Eye
Know" were honest, almost touch-
ing love songs that veered clear of
the banes of most of today's rap;
cheap sentiment and sexism.
Sorry to say of course that "the
Daisy Age" was short lived. De La
never was quite comfortable with
Tommy Boy's day-glow flower art-
work for the album and when the

MADSTONE
Continued from Page 3B
This branch focuses on granting first-
time directors the opportunity and more
importantly, the means to tell their story.
Twice a year, Madstone takes anywhere
from three to five of the world's newest
and most promising talent and affords
them opportunity to make their film.
These directors are signed to a two-year
contract which pays them $50,000 dollars
annually, offers them complete benefits
and on top of it all, Madstone Inc.
finances their movie with a budget
between $500,000 and $1.5 millon.
A seasoned member of the film indus-
try, Tom Gruenberg realizes the plight of
first-time directors. "To be a first-time
future director and get funding, you have
to be a great salesman, great financial
wizard, a great writer and a great direc-
tor. You have to organize all of this and
survive. And that is, for anyone an awe-
some task."
The Madstone Films division focuses
on allowing the talent to do what they do
best without worrying about funding.
Directors are given the freedom to direct,
writers are given the freedom to write, the
division aims to allow artists to focus on
where their skills lie, avoiding other dis-
tractions.
HEAD-FIRST
INTO THE DIGITAL

In conjunction with the first-time future
directors program, Madstone Inc. also
launched another branch devoted solely to
digital technology. Madstone's Digital
Distribution Network (DDN) aims to
enhance the theatrical experience through
the incorporation of digital technologies.
Madstone DDN, being a technology
based firm is highly interested in the
implementation of digital-based technolo-
gies. Eventually, the company hopes the
DDN branch will extend to responding to
audiences' wants and needs through the
internet. The DDN could serve as a scav-
enger for the market in a region, and then
aid in bringing a cinematic consumer
want-list to Madstone's silver screen.
Madstone DDN turns traditional movie

screens into interactive multi-functional
outlets. While Madstone Theaters show
top flight independent films, Madstone
DDN is designed to incorporate other uses
for a movie theater. DDN screens will be
able to show movies, but additionally, can
be used as a closed circuit network for
business functions, such as product
unveilings and press conferences.
The company was the first exhibitor in
North America to purchase a DLP
Cinema digital projector, evidence of
Madstone's desire to be on the cusp of
technological advance. When the theater
-in Ann Arbor opens, it will not have a dig-
ital projector, but Madstone plans to
install one in the future.
Because of the company's employment

of digital technology in the Madstone
Films branch (the directors all film with
digital cameras) the company has placed
themselves in a position to show their
movies in the best possible environment,
with the best available technology.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Madstone Inc. is the sum of its parts.
The Madstone Films family seeks to bring
promising new talent into the cinematic
cultural landscape, the Theaters division is
designed to improve the theater going
experience and encourage the viewing of
lesser known high quality pictures, the
DDN department is devoted to the prolif-
eration of digital technology. "Our com-

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press started labeling the group
neo-hippies, the boys took outright
offense.
There were accusations of pan-
dering towards a mainstream white
audience and as the '90s opened
progressive rap took a backseat as
gangster exploded. Ironically the
white kids were more entranced
with the brutal voyeurism and
macho posing that gangster provid-
ed than they ever were by the intel-
ligence and suburban goofiness of
the Soul.
On their next album De La Soul
Is Dead they'd take a turn toward
dark material. The cover featured
a cracked flowerpot complete with
wilted daisies. So much for opti-
mism.

STAYING POWER
Continued from Page 8
of the menu. (Price doesn't hurt, either. It's $4.50 for an
omelete, hash browns and toast.)
In a place where restaurant turnover is higher than nor-
mal, Steve's is a sort of anchor for those who remain or
return to Ann Arbor.
"I have one (regular) customer who has been coming
here since he was a student in the '70s," Lee says.
Fleetwood Diner
(300 S. Ashley, open 24 hours.)
Opened. as Dagwood's in 1946, the diner has been
known as the Fleetwood since the mid-'60s or so. I could
probably look up the exact date, but that's not really the

point. The Fleetwood is the only 24-hour restaurant with-
in walking distance of campus, and if you can't amuse
yourself conversing with the crowd of characters that
inevitably trickles in around 5 a.m. (it helps to speak other
languages), you can at least enjoy the food. The grease is
plentiful and the Hippie Hash (nieaty or not) is ideal for
soaking up libations. Prices are low and portions large.
"People say they're anti-establishment, but they go to
Starbuck's," says Tami, a waitress at Fleetwood for nine
years.
Ann Arbor establishments are still putting up a better
fight against the malbouf that infests college campuses
than goes on most places. (What other towns can you
think of in which both Burger King and McDonald's been
forced to close?) But what exactly does that mean?
"You'll have to ask someone else, I'll give you some
stupid, smartass answer," Tami says.

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