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February 10, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-10

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Tuesday
February 10, 4
arts.michigandaily.com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

RTS

5

DOUG
WERNERT

Television for all seasons

Courtesy of Def Jam
What are you
looking at?

CITIZEN KANYE
HOT HIP-HOP PRODUCER GETS IN ON RAP GAME

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Let's play word association. Roc-A-Fella:
Jay-Z ... And not much else really. Twenty-six-
year old Chicago native Kanye West has a little
to say about the demise of the Roc in the form
of a solid and distinctive debut. Part concept

album, mostly good hip-hop,
it's clear that Kanye has a lot
to say and knows exactly
how he wants to say it. In
mainstream hip-hop, the pro-
ducer/rapper moniker has
rarely yielded anything

Kanye West
The College
Drop Out
Def Jam

clear his specific gripe with higher education, and
for three-quarters of the album, he manages the
impossible: He makes a hip-hop concept album.
Starting with an introduction that sets the theme,
his ideas are clearly laid out. "All Falls Down" exam-
ines consumerism and "Through The Wire" burns
with determination of a musician striking out on his
own. "Family Business" captures the heartwarming
dysfunction of a trip through the family photo
album. As always, the Ludacris-involved single
"Breathe In Breathe Out" is a mishap, as is the
excessive use of skits. While funny initially, they pad
the album and slow down the flow. The 12-minute
autobiographical "Last Call" is interesting once and
its placement at the end of the album thankfully pre-
vents further listening.
The songs are strongly centered around disillu-
sionment - the college experience, religion, hip-
hop and the struggle against racism in the
foreground. Yet the most humble part of all this is
that he politely passes over the gangsta bravado and
self-proclaimed greatness that is usually associated
with Roc-A-Fella for a more focused approach. If
you've ever seen a picture of Kanye, his pastel polo
shirt style screams middle-class pretty boy. He's not
trying to scare you with his prison record or tell you
he's the best rapper ever. He knows he's not. Meet
the self-educated, socially aware, populist rapper.
As the owner of an extensive rap sheet of radio
hits ("Izzo," "You Don't Know My Name" and

The months of September to May
are a TV fan's dream. The return
of old favorites, coupled with
new series hoping to make their mark,
make for a new and exciting evening
of viewing each night. Once the dog
days of summer hit, and reruns show
up in droves on the major networks,
the anticipation of what's on the tube
disappears. Luckily, that may soon
change.
Recently, the FOX network, home to
such classic programming as "Man vs.
Beast" and "My Big Fat Obnoxious
Fianc," announced that they will now
start showing new episodes and series
all year-round, straying away from the
traditional September-to-May format.
Due to the fact that their coverage of
the World Series prevents their televi-
sion season from starting until Novem-
ber, FOX was leaning this way anyway,
but now they have made it, official.
NBC has also decided to break from
the norm, saying they will start their
new season of programs at the end of
August, obviously hoping to capitalize
on the large audience the Olympic
Games produce.
Whatever the reason may be, the real
winners out of all of this are the view-
ers. Soon, instead of being subjected to
"Tru Calling" reruns every week, audi-
ences can now look forward to new and
innovative programming that the net-
works wouldn't normally take a chance
on during the ultra-competitive fall sea-
son. Sure, some of these shows will be
utterly horrible, but at least they're new
and a refreshing change from that
"King of the Hill" repeat you've seen
far-too-many times.
There's also the chance that the net-
works might strike gold with one of
these summer endeavors. It's happened
many times in the past. Back in 2000,
the British game show "Who Wants to
be a Millionaire?" made its American
debut on ABC and soon grew into a
"phenomenon." It quite possibly saved
a desperate network and went on to
monstrous, albeit short-lived, success.
FOX also has had its share of sum-
mer hits, going all the way back to the
second season of "Beverly Hills
90210." In fact, the whole "American

Idol" spectacle began during this time.
More recently has been "The O.C."
which found a niche with the teenage
crowd and has now become one of
FOX's biggest hits. All these programs
have showed that they are not just one-
trick ponies and they can actually hang
with the big boys of the fall season.
It's surprising that the networks
haven't expanded on this idea before.
Summer is the ideal season to reach a
large amount of viewers. With no
school in session, the chances of reach-
ing the homework-free student popula-
tion increases and, since most of the
major sports are in the off-season,
many people will be searching for
something entertaining to watch. Plus,
the networks could keep their core
audiences from switching over to
cable, which has experimented in the
past during the summer and has found
it to be worthwhile, most notably "The
Wire" on FX and the HBO hit "Six
Feet Under." The cost to produce these
new series may be high, but one "Sur-
vivor"-like hit will make the money
well spent.
CBS and ABC haven't said much
about adopting this new programming
format, but once they see the benefits
of the change, they should follow suit.
CBS is the highest-rated network in the
country, and has already found huge
summer success with "Survivor" and
moderate success with other reality
shows such as "The Amazing Race."
ABC always has "Millionaire" to refer
to, and they are always looking to
regain their past prowess.
The formula is simple. With year-
round programming, the networks get
their audiences back, and the audi-
ences get a break from the boring
reruns that dominate the summer
months. If the networks churn out new
shows, the people at home are going to
watch them at least once. That's just
how it works. As for liking them ...
that's a whole other story altogether.
Doug has Ti Voed the Super Bowl and
watched the half-time show 37 times. If
you want to discuss Janet
Jackson'nipple, e-mail him at
dwernert@umich.edu.

impressive. Early purveyors of the field such as
Puffy, Jermaine Dupri and Timbaland offered
nothing new with their individual efforts other
than thinly veiled vehicles for their beats, which
fell prey to monotony long before the tracklist
was finished.
While Kanye is not going to elevate the idea of
producer/rapper to the level of the singer/song-
writer tradition on his own, The College Drop Out
is at least a start. There really isn't a more lucid
way for a rapper to get his undiluted message out
than to create his own specific aural environment.
As an admitted college dropout, Kanye makes

"Stand Up") the man obviously has his finger on
the pop sensibilities necessary for success.
The production on Drop Out is varied and keeps
your head nodding, the lyrics keep you smiling
and the album entertains, all with a bit of aware-
ness. Kanye hs managed to pull the magic act
that even his mentor, Jay-Z, never accomplished
- to inject the conscious within the commercial.
Wasting no time, Kanye has already named his
next album Late Registration. I'm already waiting.

XBox version of PC
classic lacks innovation

Somber season best yet for Fang Gang

By Charles Paradis
Daily Arts Writer
Gainers bought "Half-Life" back in
the '90s when it was the best and
most innovative videogame to come
out in years and when "Counter-
Strike" came out shortly thereafter,
they battled
hordes of fanati-
cal players in an Counter-
online environ- Strike
ment comprised XBox
of clans and Microsoft
guilds. But now,
more than five years later, the game
sits innocuously on the shelf next to
several other outdated titles. With
Microsoft's recent port of "Counter-
Strike" to the XBox, gamers may be
thinking that it is time to relive some
past glory with new-age technology;
however, if players are expecting a
nostalgic trip down memory lane, the
newest version of the counter-terror-
ism shooter might leave them asking
for more.
The game is basically the same as it
was a half decade ago, only with the
addition of a few extra levels and the

XBox Live platform backing the
online play. The greatest addition is
the easy-to-use radial-buy menu at
the start of each round. At the begin-
ning of each level, gamers choose
sides by selecting either terrorist or
counter-terrorist. Players storm
through several rounds lasting only a
few minutes each and, upon comple-
tion, can switch levels and change
sides. There are only two basic types
of competition: demolition games,
where the terrorist team tries to set
and detonate a bomb, and hostage
missions, where the counter-terrorists
attempt to free hostages. In both
cases, the opposing side is trying to
thwart these efforts. The game could
be improved upon by having more
mission options, such as VIP protec-
tion or some form of escape mode,
but, unfortunately, players are pre-
sented with just the two options.
"Counter-Strike" has always
focused on its fairly realistic gun play.
Unlike some games, where you bold-
ly dash headfirst into a room full of
armed opponents, shrugging off bul-
lets like Superman, trying this in
"Counter-Strike" will most likely lead
to your early demise. Once the play-
er's health reaches zero, the game

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor
A vampire, cursed with a soul,
fights for redemption for his past
sins while trying to fulfill an ancient
prophecy to one day become mortal
again. This premise may seem hokey
and outlandish, but under the guid-
ance of cult

favorite creator
Joss Whedon,
"Angel" has
become one of
the most exciting

Angel
Season 3
20th Century Fox

Courtesy of Microsoft
Boot up your XBox ... lock and load.
gives you a few minutes to sit and
think about what you've done as you
watch your teammates finish the mis-
sion. Beginners may be frustrated by
this at first, but prudence becomes the
order of the day.
While the game does ship with a
single player option featuring bots of
different skill levels, the online play is
the bread and butter of "Counter-
Strike." Without Xbox Live, the game
is not worth the $50 price tag. But if
you already have a subscription and
enjoyed the PC version or similar first
person shooters, "Counter-Strike" can
be an enjoyable diversion.

and comedic hours on television. The
series really hit its stride in the sec-
ond season and now its even stronger
third year is available on DVD.
Fans of "Buffy" - "Angel's" sister
show - should be familiar with the
tone and epic season-long arcs that
Whedon loves to implement. "Angel
Season 3" focuses on an unexpected
pregnancy and the consequences of
the birth of a child that may bring the
apocalypse. The Fang Gang - Angel
and his team - have to protect the
child not only from the evil law firm
of Wolfram and Hart, but also a vam-
pire hunter that has a history with the
brooding hero.
"Angel" became a darker show in
this season. While the standard witty

widescreen presentation. The transfer
is pristine, maintaining "Angel's"
cinematic appearance, and the sound
quality is also a step above the com-
petition.
Like on the other two season sets
released, FOX includes episode com-
mentaries, deleted scenes, fea-
turettes, readable scripts and still
galleries. While there are not that
many commentaries, each one offers
insights into the development of the
characters and the intricacies of
filming such a large-scale television
production in such a short period of
time. Whedon's own commentary on
"Waiting in the Wings" highlights
the extras offering interesting anec-
dotes into the creation and progres-
sion of the series.
Season three saw a forced separa-
tion between "Angel" and "Buffy" -
because of feuding networks (UPN
and the WB) - that actually helped
"Angel" to become a stronger and
more independent show. Without the
ability to cross over, the series had to
stand on its own merits. "Angel" the
series and Angel the character both
matured in season three, and the
resulting season is one of the best in
its run so far.
Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ****I
Features: ****

one-liners and occasional comedic
episode remain, the entire mood
grew much more somber. The team
threatens to crumble, a recurring
character dies and a traitor dwells in
the gang's midst. The new characters
introduced in the second season -
Fred and Lorne - develop into inte-
gral parts of the show while not tak-
ing away anything from the rest of
the line-up - Cordy, Wes and Gunn.
"Angel Season 3" has the advan-
tage over its competitors in the TV
on DVD market because the show is
shot specifically for High Definition

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