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December 08, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-08

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - 9

Nas brings sweet notes in 'Street's Disciple'
By Cyril Coror
Daily Arts Writer

Many argue that '94s Illmatic is the
greatest hip-hop album of all time. It
has been both a gift and a curse for
Nas in his career of disappointments.
Now, in his seventh album, Street's
Disciple, it's evident that Nas has
regained creative control over his
work. The high dosage of rawness,
sincerity, satire and robustness pro-
duce Nas's best work since Illmatic.
The point of departure for Nas's
reclamation started with Stillmatic.
Not only because
it was his come-
back album, but Nas
also reflected his Street's Disciple
personal meta- Sony Urban Music
morphosis caused
by the Sept. 11
attacks in New York, his home.
Nas continues divulging these
revelations on Street's Disciple.
The vivid depictions of street life
in black America are extended to
include critiques of American soci-
ety and its political institutions. Nas
sarcastically criticizes contradictory
prominent black "role models" over
the playful piano melody of "These
Are Our Heroes." On "American
Way," the George Clinton sample of
"Atomic Dog" inexplicably makes
the perfect track for Nas's muckrak-
ing lyrics.
One of the strongest attributes of
this album is its production. The
album begins strongly with a piano
intro spilling into the blazing guitar
and drums of "Message to the Feds:
Sincerely, We the People." More-
over, Nas spits with hunger and
energy not heard from the artist in
a long time.
Many critics have ignored the
experimentation with live instru-
mentation throughout the album.

Goth is so hot now.

'Bloodlines' offers
garners sultry play

By Brian Stephens
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Sony Urban Music

I know I can be what I want to be. Sorry for that one.

The lead single, "Bridging the
Gap," is filled with an array of
bluesy instruments. Although the
traditional riff played on the bass
and harmonica sounds a bit repeti-
tive, the rich composition more than
makes up for it. The direction of the
album falls into the hands of three
producers, Salaam Remi, L.E.S. and
Chucky Thompson, whose musical
consistency gives Street's Disciple
the feel of a classic album.
The most powerful feature of
Street's Disciple is the rich and ample
subject matter. There is so much to

soak in and virtually no filler. This
is expressed in how the double-disc
opus is divided: Side one is the dis-
ciple spitting truth and reciting street
poetry, and side two is the mature
self-reflections of the disciple. On
"Just a Moment," Nas and rapper
Quan ask for moments of silence for
the victims of oppressive violence as
the melancholy strings and steady
tempo help the listener to feel every
word. The prime example of Nas's
self-evaluation on the second disc is
"U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of
Rakim)." Illmnatic had declared Nas

as the natural successor to hip-hop's
original poet, Rakim.
Out of the many conclusions to
draw from Street's Disciple, one
stands out: Nas cannot settle for four-
star albums. His ardent performance
warrants better than the annoy-
ing flaws that gnaw at the album's
presentation, which, if eliminated,
could have pushed this near-classic
to a flawless masterpiece. As Street's
Disciple creates debate over which
album is second to Illmatic, the eyes
of hip-hop will be eagerly anticipat-
ing what Nas can accomplish next.

'Old Friends' Simon & Garfunkel reunite

Using the "Half-Life 2" engine and
based on game-maker White Wolf's
popular pen-and-paper game, "Vam-
pire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines"
is arguably one of the most antici-
pated role-playing games of the year.
Coupled with rich and detailed graph-
ics and taking place in the darkest
alleyways of Los
Angeles, "Vam-
pire" seemed Vampire: The
well-poised to Masquerade -
blow away the Bloodlines
competition. PC
Players start the
game by choos- Activision
ing one of the
seven vampire clans, each possess-
ing its own subset of unique abilities.
Choosing the grotesque Nosferatu,
for example, a clan whose members'
vampirism twists their bodies into
monsters, makes interacting with a
shopkeeper a bit more problematic
than with other clans because of
their grotesque appearance. On the
other hand, selecting the animalistic
Gangrel might be enjoyable if gain-
ers are keen of seeing a swarm of
bats descend upon their enemies.
Depending on which clan players
choose, gainers are able to become
invisible, move exceptionally fast or
even metamorphose into a terrible
creature. The use of these powers, or
disciplines as they are called, carry a
risk that they might break the Mas-
querade doctrine if a mortal sees
them being used. The Masquerade
states that vampires must remain
unseen to the mortal world. The Nos-
feratu, for example, will break the
Masquerade simply by being spot-
ted. If one acquires five Masquerade

violations, the game is over.
The interesting part of "Vampire"
is its reliance on a statistics-driven
experience system. Gainers get expe-
rience for completing certain parts of
a story rather than randomly killing;
in fact, players who choose to use
a bit of persuasion to get around an
obstacle receives the same amount
of experience as someone who uses
brute force. This stat-based system
is innovative as it prevents players
from becoming especially power-
ful toward the end of the game - a
common problem of many other PC
games like "Murrowind" and "Nev-
erwinter Nights."
The dialogue in the game is packed
with choices that draw upon "social
talents" like intimidation and seduc-
tion. On the streets of Los Angeles,
one can even purchase a prostitute,
quickly reminding players that "Vam-
pire" is geared toward adults. Aside
from the nude women dancing in the
strip clubs, "Vampire" has employed
the use of heavy metal bands that
work admirably to accentuate the
dark atmosphere of the game.
Unfortunately, "Vampire" suffers
from long and painful load times,
voice stuttering, random crashes
and memory leaks. The combat sys-
tem is problematic since a vampire's
fist is far more efficient than any of
the firearms available in the game.
While Activision and Troika have
made plans to release a patch that will
mitigate these problems, it is unclear
when or if these fixes will be avail-
able for download in the near future.
It is unfortunate that the developers
failed to fully meld the addictive-
ness of first-person shooters with
the fluidity of role-playing games.
Nevertheless, "Vampire" succeeds
in the latter and does so with grace
and style.

By Kat Bawden
Daily Arts Writer

"With a few interruptions, this year
would be the 50th anniversary of a
friendship that I deeply cherish," Art
Garfunkel told an invigorated audience
before he and Paul
Simon launched
into "Hey, School- Simon and
girl." The song Garfunkel
was one of the first Old Friends:
the two recorded Live on Stage
together at the raw
age of 16 when they Warner Bros.
called themselves
Tom and Jerry. They've come a long way
and created an accomplished - albeit
dramatic - history together that won't
be forgotten anytime soon.
At first glimpse, the new two-disc live
album from last year's "Old Friends"

youthful reproductions of their old music
will also be disappointed. The music
sounds sedated. The songs are watered-
down and their prophetic intensity lost,
just as a young man's energy can be
drained by the time he's in his 60s. The
full seven-man backup band unintention-
ally highlights their fatigue. It seems as
if the music is aimed toward their older
followers. It's a disappointing result, but
it is impressive that they were able to hit
the road and play one more tour (and one
that grossed about $36 million), so their
efforts deserve respect.
Despite these omissions, decades of
musicianship have not been lost. Though
their individual voices sound rusted from
age, their harmonies are incredibly intact
and dance around each other in ways
that most younger musicians can only
dream of achieving. Simon's guitar solo
on "Homeward Bound" shimmers, the
haunting echoes on "The Boxer" add an
otherworldly vibe and the majestic lone-
on new LP

liness of "El Condor Pasa" reminds audi-
ences why Simon and Garfunkel have
achieved their illustrious status.
Though nothing monumental, "Live
On Stage" is a perfect bookend to a
Simon and Garfunkel collection. It pro-
vides solid closure and resolution to their
disagreeable past. Garfunkel tells the
audience, "We started to sing together
when we were 13 years old, and we start-
ed to argue when we were 14. So this
makes this the 47th anniversary of our
arguing. Now we don't argue anymore.
Now we say, 'that's your opinion, and I
respect that.' " Audiences can certainly
respect their 40-year history, but this
album gets by on pure nostalgia rather
than the creativity and youth Simon and
Garfunkel are known for.

tour is a mouthwatering prospect for
any Simon and Garfunkel fan. But those
with hopes of hearing lesser-known
songs - such as "Richard Corey," "A
Dangling Conversation" or "Somewhere
They Can't Find Me" - will be left hun-
gry, seeing as the album is compiled of
almost all well-known hits.
Listeners expecting to hear proud,



By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

Once upon a time,
brutal gang known as C
Ox). Vordul Megilah1
Yung Havoks who fro

group. When they
emcees," Can-
nibal Ox played
in the luscious
landscapes of its
rap wonderland.
All was well until
Vordul and his


shown up by Aire
tual flow of the Quality river guarded
by the Talib Kweli - he began writ-
ing raps of his own. However, he soon
realized he needed a posse to remedy
his monotonous style. This is where
there existed a Vordul's deception began ...
annibal Ox (Can Vordul shortened his last name from
was one of the Megilah to Mega and boasted of his
nted the vicious involvement in the legendary Cannibal
ren't destroying Ox, touting himself as the leader of the
group. Vordul recruited C Rayz Walz
for a job called "Spitamatic." Its organ-
rordul Mega ic beat and soul samples gave Mega's
The Revolution new neighbor, Kanye, chills. Also,
of Yung Havoks Mega recruited the notoriously smooth
Nature Sounds Jean Grae, whom he easily outshone.
Her mediocre vocals intertwined with
several samples and simply disappoint-
Aire, began to ed the villagers.
ey soon parted One day, Vordul was lazing around
own in search of when he heard a familiar voice. "I am
Cannibal Ox / I wear many hats," it
Vordul passed echoed. Vordul's heart sank. He ran into
om of Illmatic the streets to see Vast Aire surrounded
veral beats and by the villagers. Aire stared at Vordul
everal of the 36 before jumping into "Handle That."
Wu-Tang ruled, Aire proceeded to put Vordul to shame.
place to settle His superior flow and lines like, "he gets
the cave of Jay- no love like John McEnroe," destroyed
and the intellec- Vordul's credibility and respect amongst



a mom
a dad
o santa
o hanukkah
w christmas
a kwanzaa
a graduation
o my birthday


partner-in-crime, Vast
battle each other. Th
ways, and Vordul left t
greater things.
f On his journey,
through Nas's kingd
where he learned sev
choruses. He entered s
Chambers where the
and finally finding a
- somewhere between
Z's Reasonable Doubt

his peers and the villagers.
As Aire crooned, "I give you 45-sec-
onds to run," Vordal left town scream-
ing "Megallah" - a name reminiscent
of his former, but presumably the begin-
ning of a new transformation - and
recounting his struggles. With this
downtrodden cadence, Vordul's cho-
ruses seemed tedious without the assis-
tance of his crew or an untouchable beat.
As he walked with Kweli's Beautiful
Struggle into the sunset, all knew Mega
wasn't finished and that he would travel
until he found more gorgeous lands on
which to romp.




Poor rhymes mar Edo G.'s newest release

By Cyril Cordor
Daily Arts Writer
Music R EVI Ew**
My Own Worst Enemy is Edo G.'s (formerly Ed O.G.) new
album released on Fat Beats Records. Although he has flown
under the hip-hop radar for over a decade, he is, of course,
no rookie. He has built his own reputa-
tion with his affiliation to the Gang Starr
Foundation. But DJ Premier, one half + Edo G.

epic / There's a madness to my method, it's universal / My
music is underground and commercial / Wholesome and con-
troversial." The album moves on to another Pete Rock jewel,
"Voices," where he supplies Edo G.'s words of wisdom with
a backdrop of resonating choir voices, making these the best
tracks on the album.
After these, however, the LP plateaus. Diamond D, who
seems to be losing his touch, produces "Streets is Callin',"
a boring beat with the same keyboard notes, drum and bass
droning over and over again. Other songs like "Pay the Price"
and "Right Now!" are definitely a nice listen, but Edo G. is


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