10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 26, 2004
REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY 'S NEW RELEASES
Asian emcee goes mainstream*
By Cyril Cordor
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVIEW %
Jin gained muchrecognition andrespect
among underground hip-hop junkies for
his unbelievable freestyles in emcee bat-
tles and contests around the country. This
emcee got picked
up by Ruff Ryders
after stunning The Rest
performances on is History
B.E.T.'s "106 and Ruff Ryders
Park Freestyle Fri-
days." His debut release, The Rest Is His-
tory, is a big disappointment.
Poorly sung hooks and terrible beats,
coupled with razor-sharp lyrics, charac-
terize this album. Production credits from
Just Blaze, Kanye West and Mark the 45
King do not even save this album. The first
song, "Here Now," has a horrible melody
composed of just four notes and a weak
chorus. The next track, "Get Your Handz
Off," produced by Swizz Beats, also lacks
creativity, but yet Jin drops lyrics like,
"Hip-hop without Jin is like shootouts
without guns / Churches without nuns,
bankers without funds / Smoking without
lungs / Cities without slums."
It is difficult to understand why emcees
of Jin's caliber have the mindset that
producing commercial trash will gain
mainstream acceptance. This album will
probably evoke the tragedy of Canibus,
an incredibly ill emcee who gained much
recognition before releasing his highly
Courtesy o V2
Looks like it's shirts versus skins.
'CRIMES' FALLS IN SHADOW OF ITS PREDECESSOR
Where the hell are this guy's fingers?
anticipated debut, Can-I-Bus, a below-
average album that caused a falling out
among his fans. In fact, much of Jin's lyr-
ics, such as on songs "Here Now" and "C'
Mon," is dedicated to retorting to accusa-
tions of selling out.
All is not completely lost. There are
a few tracks that would not make one
feel completely embarrassed to own this
album. The track "I Got a Love," featur-
ing Kanye West, is the easiest on the ears.
The song is exactly the signature soul
that hip-hop has come to appreciate from
Kanye West. Usually battle emcees have
trouble composing lyrics that have a real
theme or subject other that, braggadocio
rhymes, but this is not the case for Jin. His
storytelling skills are showed on songs
like "Love Story," "Senorita" and "Same
Cry." On "Same Cry," he raps about the
1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square in
China and how it affected him and his
family. Despite the poorly made beat, his
simple delivery and straightforward lyrics
convey heartfelt sincerity.
On "So Afraid," Jin criticizes rappers
who, "Sell your soul for joints and jams /
Until you fall off and disappointment your
fans." He asks if "You in it for the check
/ Or you in it for respect." The Rest Is
History will probably not make a dent in
mainstream rap. Jin is a perfect example of
talented emcees who waste their time pro-
ducing commercial garbage. Jin needs to
follow his own advice, drop Ruff Ryders,
and make quality music.
By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
With the inclusion of noise experimentation, keyboards and
the sporadic and occasionally mellow feel, Burn Piano Island,
Burn created a wholly new perspective on hardcore. Quickly
following its release, the album changed how many see the
hardcore genre. After relentless touring, the Blood Brothers
returned to the studio to work on their
follow up record, Crimes. Rather than
something new, the album feels like a
collection of B-sides and Piano Island
experiments gone awry.
The album's opener, "Feed Me
To the Forest," is the first signal that
rial created. The guitar work on the rest of the tracks is inter-
mittent at most.
Even without the Brothers' standard style, they are still as
artistic and experimental as ever. The album art on Crimes is
as conceptual as earlier material, which serves as an indicator
of the emotions, moods and sporadic feel of the record. The
tracks that ensue mirror the outlook transmitted by the art-
work. Every song on Crimes takes one or more drastic changes
in style throughout its course; changing from shredding gui-
tars and feedback to bass- and percussion-driven croons with
screams from Blilie and Whitney. The album's closer, "Dev-
astator," most obviously exemplifies these shifts. Despite its
three-minute run time, the track could possibly be three dif-
ferent songs. Its intro, a minute-and-a-half-long keyboard
drone under Whitney and Blilie's screams, leads into one of
the heaviest and most abrasive parts on the album; after which,
the song returns to a guitar and keyboard approach.
Crimes's experimentation and risks, in a genre that gener-
ally sticks to its archetypal sound, makes it extremely unique.
The departure from the Brothers' earlier material also shows
their musical abilities and songwriting talent. The aptitude
to leave the standard hardcore sound while still releasing a
hardcore record is phenomenal. However, it may be too ambi-
tious. Sometimes, the record simply sounds like outtakes that
wouldn't fit on Burn Piano Island, Burn. The Blood Brothers
had a colossal album to live up to, and although Crimes is not
nearly the phenomenon of their last release, it is an extremely
strong showing from an always-evolving band.
By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Editor
collection of Pixies tracks re-recorded by
Black and Two Pale Boys.
The first disc in the collection is clas-
sic Black Francis - alone with a guitar,
laying down prepubescent Pixies tracks
Pixies frontman mixes his identities
Crimes is not a prototypical hardcore album. It opens with
a single bass and controlled feedback before morphing into
a percussion-driven scream fest. The most apparent dif-
ference from the Brothers' earlier material, seen here and
throughout most of the record, is the lack of guitar heavy
songs. Although Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie con-
tinue their vocal onslaught, the tracks still seem to lack the
intensity of their earlier works.
Crimes is not, however, devoid of guitar-ridden songs.
"Trash Flavored Trash," "Teen Heat" and "Beautiful Horses"
all carry the same power and prowess that their earlier mate-
Earlier this year, in an interview with
LiveDaily magazine, enigmatic Pixies
frontman Frank Black Francis sounded like
a man who finally knew himself. "People
don't try enough to be themselves," he said.
"All these people trying to sound like some
soulless diva, they're not letting their true
personality shine through."
In fact, Charles Kitteridge Thompson
IV discovered a precious brightline this
year between his Pixies moniker, Black
Francis, and the name he's used on all his
solo work, Frank Black. Now, his two sides
have come together for Frank Black Fran-
cis, a two-disc collection featuring a demo
tape from Black's pre-Pixies career and a
at producer Gary
setts apartment one
night before record-
ing their debut EP,
Come on Pilgrim.
was admittedly ner-
The second disc, on the other hand, is
a total oddity and might be disheartening
to long-time Pixies fans. Replacing the
Pixies' guttural sound with glitchy elec-
tronica, dripping in quaaludes, Two Pale
Boys manage to completely overhaul the
songs, reworking their instrumentation and
The disc isn't a total loss: "Velouria" is
run through slow, growling instrumentation
akin to Tom Waits, and the horn-fed, eleva-
tor-muse of "The Holiday Song" is at least
upbeat. "Into the White" is reimagined with
see-sawing strings seeping into Black's
vocal track. In fact, the songs that immedi-
ately resonate with listeners are those that
stick to the time and pace of the original
Pixies tracks. And, while there's nothing
really worth keeping here, it's interesting
enough to witness how history can be bent
through a time-warp.
vous about releasing the tape because of its
stripped-down nature and whathe described
as "bootleg quality," the tracks here are
crisp and clear. Cuts like "Holiday Song"
and "Caribou" paint an early Black Francis
as a spirited young performer and stand up
to the final versions that have already found
their place in alternative music's canon.
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