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September 07, 2005 - Image 50

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8D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2005

ARTs

ROCK OPERA

GREEN DAY MATURES WITH POLITICIZED ALBUM

EVAN
McGARVEY

By Joel Hoard
SEPTEMBER 29, 2005
Daily Staff Writer
MUSIC R EVIEW

Beginning with
album Kerplunk! in
ing with Nimrod
in 1997, Green
Day spent the first
half of their career
perfecting the two-
and-a-half-minute
pop-punk song,
while both reviving

their breakthrough
1992 and culminat-
Green Day
American Idiot
Reprise
the punk genre and

infusing it with a modern sense of irony
and good-natured brattiness.
But charm can only take you so
far. There comes a time in the life of
a punk band when musicianship and
songcraft - =which Green Day has
always had - have to take over. It
began with the underrated and under-
appreciated Warning in 2000, which
proved the group can pull off subdued,
mid-tempo rockers with the same skill
that they showed on the punk blitzes
that made them famous.
The trend continues with the band's
new "punk-rock opera" American Idiot,
a full hour-long record even more diverse
and sprawling than Warning.
Like any rock opera, American Idiot
is self-indulgent and overblown, but it
works, because Green Day knows it's
self-indulgent and overblown. They
keep tongue planted firmly in cheek and
infuse their songs with enough energy
and hooks to keep it interesting. The
story, featuring such colorful charac-

ters as Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and
Whatsername, is not what's important
here. What's essential is that American
Idiot plays as a cohesive and engaging
record. It's the rock opera for the lost
generation, those held down by "a red-
neck agenda" and "the subliminal mind
fuck America," as Billie Joe Armstrong
explains in the title track.
Appropriately, Green Day sounds less
Clash and Sex Pistols and more Who on
American Idiot. They pay ample tribute
to the Gods of the Rock Opera through-
out the album, copping Who-like melo-
dies, harmonies, windmilled guitar riffs
and thundering bass lines and refashion-
ing them into Green Day originals. The
Who influence is felt most prominently
on the five-part mini-opera "Jesus of
Suburbia" (one of two such operettas on
the album), a full realization of the song-
writing prowess that has been lingering
below the surface for some time now.
But the tributes don't end with The
Who. On "Are We the Waiting," Green
Day are dead ringers for Styx (who, of
course, authored their own rock opera,
Kilroy Was Here), churning out a puffed-
up power ballad complete with five-part
harmonies. And "Rock and Roll Girl-
friend" would have been right at home in
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
More than anything, Green Day has
proven on American Idiot that it is pos-
sible for a modern punk act to age grace-
fully. Their songwriting has reached full
maturity, and even when they take the
low road and opt for snotty humor, it
doesn't seem out of place. But can they
pull it off in another 10 years to come?
There's no reason why they can't.

JANUARY 19, 200$
Th lttle prince of
rap: Kanyc West

Green Day rocked Cobo Arena in Detroit on Nov. 6, 2004.

G-nit mastermind delivers second LP

0

By Evan McGarvey
MARCH 8,2005
Daily StaffWriter
MUSIC REVllEW *
With a past that includes multiple
gunshot wounds to the mouth, various
broken record contracts, an incredible
New York mix-tape
career and 11 mil- 50 Cent
lion copies of Get The Massacre
Rich or Die Tryin'
sold, it's possible Shady/Aftermath
to forgive 50 Cent's .
occasional self-indulgence and self-
aggrandizement on his second proper
album, The Massacre.
Crazy insane or insane crazy? After
the past few months, it's hard to tell if 50
Cent is the next generation of the Rakim/
B.I.G./Jay-Z New York lineage or simply
a man whose unprecedented success has
rendered him paranoid and on the verge of
self-destruction.
50's chameleon flow - part Queens
roughneck, part injury-induced Southern
drawl - keeps clich6d guns-and-ammo
joints like "Outta Control" and "This Is
50" above water. Gangsta rap feeds on
each artist's street credibility, so when he
raps, "A lil' nigga hurt his arm, lettin off
that Eagle;you know me / Black on black
Bentley, big ol' black 9 /I'll clap your mon-
key-ass, yeah black on black crime," well,
you try and argue with him.
According to the man himself, 50 Cent
recorded a body of over 60 songs from
which he chose the 22 that make up The
Massacre. What's troubling about this

2Pac-like work ethic is that only about half
of the album's tracks deserve to see the
light of day. The first two singles, "Disco
Inferno" and "Candy Shop," are both flac-
cid crossover jams with requisite pithy
string sections and mediocre Indian flutes,
respectively. Being the godfather of G-
Unit doesn't seem to be helping his artistic
output, either.
While he's never quite the perfect gen-
tleman, he gets downright nasty toward
the women on the aptly named "Get in My
Car" and makes some Sylvia Plath-esque
death wishes on the murky "I'm Supposed
To Die Tonight." For someone who wants
so desperately to join the rap hall of fame,
50 has made The Massacre out to be the
typical achievement of post-Golden Age
rap: pockets of weak musical filler buff-
ered by incandescent singles.
As on Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 reach-
es musical peaks when he cuts loose and
delivers unfettered blitzkriegs of..rage,
party revelry or some combination of both.
Though it may lead to death by mix tape
roasting, he calls out both Jadakiss and
Fat Joe for working with G-Unit/Shady
archenemy Ja Rule on the relentless steel-
drum and synth-fueled "Piggy Bank." As
50 launches hallucinogenic barb after barb
and proposes death to Jada, Fat Joe, Shyne
and Nas, the beat, seemingly fueled by
pure malice and ecstasy, flies over listen-
ers' heads like a squall of fighter jets.
Worn-out Motown vocal loops on "Ski
Mask Way" recall 50's earthy, delightfully
villainous pre-Aftermath record days and
help to salve the pain of the bloated subur-
ban-raps of "So Amazing."
Sometimes he strays from the autobio-

K anye West.
Last year at the State
Theater in Detroit you kept
the crowd waiting for more than
two hours before you decided to
stumble on stage and slur your way
through your equally rank album.
Even when you traipsed across stage
you couldn't silence the pockets of
fed-up and frustrated fans shouting,
"Fuck Kanye! Fuck Kanye!",
Now I know I'm pretty much
alone in slandering your art, your
performances and your general
ethos. The College Dropout has
become the year-end object of wor-
ship for seemingly everyone from
The New Yorker to record shop
owners in Bed-Stuy. You've taken
credit for bringing the following
things "back into hip hop": intro-
spection, collared shirts, humor,
intelligence, cleverness and Jesus.
With a chip roughly the size of K2
lodged firmly on your shoulder, you
refuse to praise other producers and
have drunkenly proclaimed yourself
"the biggest producer in the game."
Remember that? It was right before
you started performing a song, for-
got the words and demanded that we,
the audience, sing it in your stead.
For the record, Kanye, your sole
production trick, speeding up vocal
tracks until the vocals sound like
helium-fed chipmunks, is a pithy rip
off of DJ Premier's scratching tech-
nique and Just Blaze's furious loops
of sound.
Okay, so "Stand Up" and "Guess
Who's Back" buoyed Ludacris's
and Scarface's albums respective-
ly. Good job, you made a hit song.
That's your job. In terms of sales
performance and diversity of work,
I'd place you somewhere behind
Timbaland, the Neptunes, Dr.Dre,
Swizz Beatz, Just Blaze, Hi-Tek,
Lil' Jon, Red Spyda and Irv Gotti.
It's been easy for you to get on the
charts; you've worked with Jay-
Z and other Roc-A-Fella stars for
most of your career. Bad things
generally happen when you stray
from your comfort zone. That song
you did with Brandy for her latest
album, "Talk About Our-Love," how
long did that stay in rotation? About
three weeks? Thought so.
Behind the boards your reputa-
tion is a bit inflated. But the cruelest
chatter flowing through the hip-hop
world started up when you made the
worst move of your young career:
You started rapping. Honestly, it's
not fair to completely ravage your
flow. Not all of us are blessed with
a Method Man or MF Doom caliber
voice. But really Kanye, most of the
time we can hear you gasping for air
in the middle of your 16 bars. Com-
mon and Talib blew you out of the
water on your album and your take
on reality involves folding shirts at

the Gap and bitching about how you
had to go to college.
God has always been at the fore-
front of rap. When B.I.G. raged
against the mindless drug hustling
who was he demanding answers
from? When Scarface and Bushwick
Bill were burdened with guilt and
remorse, from whom did they seek
solace? You aren't the first artist to
rap about God. You're the first artist
to yell his name 20 times in a song
and call it innovation. Some ill-
advised mix-tape appearances later
and your complete lack of breath
control, horrible syntax and childish
self-involvement doomed the album
before it even dropped.
In truth, you got lucky. The blue
chip magazines (Time, Entertain-
ment Weekly, etc ...) piled on the
rap bandwagon, and Dizzee Rascal
and 50 Cent found themselves get-
ting shout outs in The New Yorker.
Your album was released on third
base and you think you hit a triple.
If anyone had made an album as
middle-brow, pseudo intellectual
and self-congratulatory as yours,
they probably would have reaped the
lion's share of the praise. Instead,
most critics seemed content to over-
look Ghostface and MF Doom and
gush over a young black man who
was so daring to talk about college.
And that, Kanye, is your most
frustrating sin. In inane skits and the
loose "concept" of College Drop-
out, the recurring characters are
garish stereotypes of college-age
black youth. You claim that you are
just making sure that colleges don't
"use" black students, but what do you
mean? You claim that college doesn't
really improve the socio-economic
status of young men and women but
what do you know about practical
knowledge? You're the spoiled son
of a university professor mother and
college educated-father who used his
free ride through college to study
piano. You're. a hypocrite and fraud
who claims that a wardrobe of Ralph
Lauren sweaters and deluxe leather
backpacks makes you less.material-
istic than the Rolex flaunting men at
Cash Money. You misrepresent your
generation, your peer group and you
presume to give life lessons that you
yourself have yet to learn.
You may fool the public, but his-
tory and art are not so easily swayed.
The sand foundation of stolen ideas
and limp rap ability on which you
have built your home will collapse
and then Kanye, you will be as
stranded and forgotten as the fans
you neglect at each show.
Evan secretly wishes that he were
a tenth of the rapper Kanye West is.
Exchange fetish pieces from your
Kanye shrines with him by e-mailing
evanbmcg @umich.edu.

0

"You are so dead, nobody scuffs my loafers."

graphical and taps into emotional narra-
tives. Unfortunately, he only does it once
on The Massacre, and "A Baltimore Love
Thing" might be too oblique for the listen-
ers expecting boilerplate verses.
The week of The Massacre's release,
G-Unit rookie and Dr. Dre prot6g6 The
Game, who coincidently has a multi-plati-
num debut album at the top of the Billboard
charts, bashed 50 Cent on-air before 50
subsequently ex-communicated him from
G-Unit. Later that week, members of The
Game's clique launched shootings at two
venues where 50 was reportedly present.
Even for a man raised on death and
seemingly unafraid of the afterlife, 50

Cent's approach to mortality is down-
right shocking. For all of Eminem's
beef-squashing diplomacy on "Like Toy
Soldiers," a single from his own recent
album, Encore, 50 just seems to fear
destruction that much less.
He's turning on everyone in sight, seem-
ing to mock mentor Eminem on "My Toy
Soldier" and picking fights with whomever
he wants. As with most neo-gangsta rap,
50 preaches a lifestyle he really doesn't
live anymore. But he sure seems willing to
start a war. Here's hoping The Massacre
will become a middling, if not completely
solid, entry into 50's catalogue and not his
death warrant.

II-~ ~iI

1918
by Horton Foote
A poignant tale ofa young family facing
WWIand an equally deadly disease at home.
Trueblood Theatre " Oct. 6 - 16, 2005
Dept. of Theatre & Drama
The Boys from Syracuse
by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
in a brilliant musical setting.
Mendelssohn Theatre " Oct. 13 - 16, 2005
Musical Theatre Dept.
The Coronation of Poppea
by Claudio Monteverdi
Beauty, greed, seduction - a woman must
use all her resources when usurping a throne.
Sung in Italian with English translations.
Power Center * Nov. 10 - 13, 2005
School of Music Opera Theatre
The Laramie Project
By Moisds Kaufman
The deeply moving tale ofa small town's
varied reactions to a hate crime.

The 2005-06111M School of Music
sesnprmss uebentertainment!l
Student tickets are only $9 with ID
45% off the regular price! Get yours
now at the League Ticket Office in the
Michigan League.
f
Vw~ S
5 C,
Ott .'*4
44
Dance to the Music
Choreography by guests Doug Varone
y5 and Matthew Rose, and faculty
An evening of modern dance set to music byUt Composers.

Jackie 0
By Michael Daugherty
A pop opera about sixties icons Warhol, Callas,
and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Sung in English.
Mendelssohn Theatre
Mar. 23 - 26, 2006
School of Music Opera Theatre
The Burial at Thebes
by Seamus Heaney
A new adaptation of Sophocle's Antigone
by the esteemed Irish poet.
Trueblood Theatre
Mar. 30 - Apr. 9, 2006
Dept. of Theatre & Drama
Seussical
by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
The stories of Dr. Seuss come alive
in this fantastic musical.
Power Center
Apr. 13 - 16, 2006
Musical Theatre Dept.

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