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January 19, 2006 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-19

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Thursday,
January 19, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

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FUNKY FOUR + 1
FIVE TOP PIECES OF POP CULTURE
COMPLIMENTS OF THE DAILY ARTS EDITORS
Real World / Road Rules Gauntlet - Washed-up reality stars come
back for more on the latest MTV challenge with even more 'roided-up,
hairless males and attention-whoring females. There's nothing quite
as funny as seeing 35-year-old out-of-shape contestants struggling to
keep up with the younger generation. Throw in a bunch of tension
compounded from previous seasons and perennial alcoholic/Gauntlet
beast Ruthie getting eliminated this week, and you've got one of the
most entertaining ways to spend a cold Ann Arbor night.
Isiah/Simmons beef - The Knicks GM told Stephen A. Smith on his radio
show that if he sees sportswriter Bill Simmons on the street, "it's gonna be
a problem with me and him." A South Side Chicago Bad Boy who once
punched his own teammate versus a sheltered New England writer? We'll
go with the Isiah. Trust us, we work with a lot of pale New Englanders.
Scott Storch - Not only has this awkward white guy produced most
of the shitty songs associated with equally mediocre rappers (see Mr.
Cent's "Candy Shop" and Fatty Joe's "Get It Poppin' "), but a recent
New York Times article shows him buying new-money yellow dia-
monds and talking about giving Paris Hilton a Bentley for her birth-
day. To summarize, Timbaland is now a bodybuilder, Pharrell has
gotten too big for his britches and Storch is suddenly self-important.
Remember when rappers were the only ones with big egos?

Courtesy of ABC

"So about 'The Wonder Years.' You might not know this, but I was stoned the entire time."

COOKIE DOESN'T CRUMBLE
SAVAGE FINALLY FINDS A HIT WITH INORDINATELY DARK SITCOM

Ying Yang Twinz, "Shake" featuring
Pitbull - Yes, the Twinz are ridiculous-
ly foul. Yes, the creepy horror synths fill
the dance floor. And, of course, Pitbull
upstages everyone, getting nasty stuff on
the radio by rapping in Spanish and using
slang he probably shouldn't:
White Daily staffer: "I didn't know
Hispanic rappers could say the 'N'
word now."
Black Daily staffer: "Neither did I!"

By Mark Schultz
For the Daily
Former "Wonder Years" child star Fred Savage
hasn't had much to do after an acting career that peaked

with puberty, but ABC has given
the falling star another chance
with the new sitcom "Crumbs."
And playing Mitch Crumb, a
struggling writer trying to hide his
homosexuality, might actually be
his ticket back to TV stardom.

Crumbs
Thursday at
9:30 p.m.
ABC

to add to his offbeat life, including his mom - who
maybe isn't as sane as the doctors who released her
thought she was - and the return of his deadbeat
dad Billy (William Devane, "24"), who announces
he has gotten his current flame pregnant. The pair of
morally and emotionally askew parents becomes the
foundation of the show, with Savage's biggest come-
dic points coming in his reactions to them.
Then there's jealous Jody Crumb, who has seri-
ous sibling envy over Mitch's Hollywood career,
launched by Mitch's adaptation of the death of their
third brother. The mention of this dead sibling sends
"Crumbs" into dark territory, where most shows
don't venture in their pilots (and usually for good
reason). "Crumbs" tries to show this dark side along
with the hilarity of a fractured family, a novel idea
that might prove too heavy for primetime.
"Crumbs," like many sitcom pilots, is flush with the
usual topics - crazy jokes, gay jokes, sibling rivalry
jokes - that do early work developing the characters.
These jokes are typical, delivered with impeccably
timed sitcom wit, and the characters' comments fit
perfectly into the show's plot. But besides their normal,

prepackaged sitcom musings, these characters also have
a certain sense of reality to them. They're all flawed
and very human: the insecure gay writer, the bizarre,
frazzled mom and the womanizing chef all wallow in
their imperfection, but we like it. In fact, each charac-
ter's flaws are so much greater their reductive comedic
"foibles"; the characters are actually all fairly twisted
and unlike your typical sitcom makeup.
The show's pilot, like virtually all pilots, isn't great,
but "Crumbs" has a future. It has the kind of open-ended
premise that very successful series like "The Simpsons"
and "Seinfeld" had, where vagueness of plot can help
it develop in almost any direction. The series that try
to do something overly unique usually end up failing,
but "Crumbs" is happy being another story of the not-
so-average family. Granted, not-so-average families are
sitcom bread and butter, but "Crumbs" shows a fam-
ily that doesn't always conquer their flaws with pluck.
Humor is just as likely to spring from dark moments
as it is from laugh-track gags. Anchored by Savage and
Curtin - two sitcom veterans who know how to make
a show funny -"Crumbs" could be the plug to fill the
hole in ABC's dismal primetime sitcom lineup.

UGG boots - It snowed!
You don't look like a fucking
idiot anymore. Congratula-
tions.

Crumb is presumably happy in Los Angeles, but
he's soon called back to his small hometown to over-
see the release of his mother Suzanne ("SNL" and
"Third Rock from the Sun" alum Jane Curtin) from
a mental institution. Here he comes back into con-
tact with old friend Andrea (Maggie Lawson) and
oversexed brother Jody (Eddie McClintock), both of
whom work at a restaurant bearing the Crumb sur-
name. Mitch now has a whole new set of problems

Courtesy of
SarahWest.com

Fading hip-hop label catalogs early releases

By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer

Rawkus has long been synonymous with conscious indie
hip hop, providing a haven for New York City MCs to
transcend gangster posturing and other ______________
mainstream rap cliches. After working Various
with several major labels during the past Ars
few years, Rawkus was finally bought
by Geffen Records, ending its reign as Rawkus Records:
one of the preeminent hip-hop indies. Best of Decade
To celebrate the demise of the label that 1, 1995-2005
brought backpack rap to colleges across Rawkus/Geffen
the nation, Rawkus is releasing Rawkus
Records: Best of Decade I,1995-2005.
The title itself is a bit of a misnomer as the vast major-

ity of the tracks are from the late '90s, because the label
has been more or less inactive for the past five years. This
isn't a problem, though; that era represents somewhat of a
second golden age in New York hip hop. For a short while,
Brooklyn was the epicenter of the hip-hop world, Mos Def
and Talib Kweli were still a team and MC's like Big L and
Pharoahe Monch teamed with producers like Hi-Tek and
Ayatolla to create hip hop with a message.
Unfortunately Talib Kweli and Mos Def never real-
ized their commercial potential and hip hop has rapidly,
moved away from a conscious aesthetic and an opti-
mistic outlook (as well as from New York City) to head
down to the dirty South. While Kweli might be your
favorite rapper's favorite rapper, "Get By" doesn't sell
like "Stay Fly."
That doesn't subtract from the importance of this compi-
lation, especially if it exposes new listeners to some of the
essential Rawkus releases. It's a great place to start, but it

barely skims the surface of the Rawkus catalogue. All the
hits are here, from Black Star's "Definition" to Mos Def's
"Ms. Fat Booty," and every track is fire.
There's no dead weight, though it's easy to complain that
Mos Def saturates Best of/Decade I, with an appearance on
nine of the 15 tracks. But of course, as the face of the label,
it's only appropriate.
Hopefully, Best of Decade I won't be a eulogy for
Rawkus. Label cofounders Jarret Myer and Brian Brater
pledge in the liner notes to remain faithful to the label's
mission statement, writing "Rawkus intends to bring a fresh
approach to the entire media game using the most artistic
and culturally significant aspects of the underground. And
the next time the underground bends the course of pop cul-
ture, we hope to be seated courtside once again." The meta-
phor works, but unfortunately Rawkus is akin to Spike Lee
at a Knicks game, waiting out hip hop's rebuilding process
while remaining nostalgic about its glory days.

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