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February 01, 2006 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-01

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February ., 2006
arts. michigandaily. com

al e £irbiotiun DUN




Happy 250th, Mozart

By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer

For some contemporary critics and conservative
folk alike, rap music is all about misogynistic ideas and

the systematic degradation of
women. Conventional wisdom
holds that rappers have no respect
for women and play off the clas-
sic belief that sex sells. Modern
artists such as Ludacris, Ying
Yang Twins and David Banner

Fresh Kid Ice
Tonight at
11:30 p.m.
Touchdown Cafe

have all caught heat from big-name political commen-
tators like Bill O'Reilly and other anti-rap officials for
their sexually explicit lyrics.
Though 2 Live Crew is in the spotlight now, the ten-
sion between rap and censorship began long before any
of today's rappers had even picked up a microphone.
In the '80s, rap groups such as N.W.A. and 2 Live
Crew were the epitome of hip hop, already pushing the
limits of censorship. They also happened to be two of
the most offensive musical acts around. Probably the
most influential groups during the past 10 years of rap,
they never conformed to the expectations held by the
print and television media. Certain songs and albums
were considered so explicit that Florida banned 2 Live
Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be on the grounds
that it was legally obscene.
But the censorship didn't hold for long and the
Supreme Court overturned the ruling in the name of
free speech. Suddenly 2 Live Crew's work was in the
same boat as J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye"
and other pieces of art that challenged America's free-
speech laws. Though the group has changed members
several times and hasn't been around in recent years,
original member Fresh Kid Ice will bring what's left of
the powerhouse to Touchdown Cafe tonight.
"I've been going out for the past three years with
myself, the dancers, Fish & Grits and my DJ, Big
Ed," said current frontman and original member
Fresh Kid Ice.
After the loss of former members such as Luke and

veryone's gone a little Mozart-
crazy these days. The 250th
birthday of the superfluously
praised Austrian composer has the high-
culture clan atwitter trying to find their
own unique way to celebrate the man,
his impact and his nearly innumerable
While the New York
Times even manages to get
Mozart into their science
section, expounding on his
influence on Einstein, the
University has also done its
part. This semester brings
a flurry of Mozart-related
events sponsored by the
University Musical Society."
There will be local and Jap-
anese quartets, and there ALI
was the Norwegian pianist
- and, perhaps most O
grandly, the England-based Orchestre
R6volutionnaire et Romantique and Mon-
teverdi Choir did two of Mozart's most
beloved works, his Mass in C Minor and
his unfinished Requiem.
You should recognize these two pieces
- they were featured prominently in
Milos Forman's 1985 "Amadeus," the
former as aural narrative of the compos-
er's life, and the latter most memorably as
a creepy presage and accompaniment to
his cinematic death.
While last month's program at Hill
Auditorium of the two works was pretty
much breathtaking, it's the film - which
won eight Academy Awards and was
wildly popular at the time - that has
come to propagate the genius of Mozart,
and at the same time, his so-called vul-
garity, loutishness and general insanity.
To set the record straight, this particu-
lar account of Mozart's life is exaggerat-
ed, if not plain wrong. Forman and Peter
Shaffer, playwright of the original stage
version of "Amadeus," both say as much.
"From the start we agreed on one
thing: We were not making an objec-
tive Life of Wolfgang Mozart," Shaffer
once said. "This cannot be stressed too
strongly. Obviously, Amadeus on stage
was never intended to be a documentary
biography of the composer, and the film
is even less of one."
So what's the difference? For one,
Antonio Salieri, the jealous and vengeful
villain and narrator - whose plotting
drives Mozart slightly mad - damns the
great composer as "spiteful, sniggering,
conceited, infantine ... who has never
worked one minute to help another man!"


That is, he damns him in the play and
movie. In real life, Salieri and Mozart
were modest friends, not rivals. Salieri
was even teacher to Mozart's son.
But it's not as if you can blame the Sal-
ieri on screen and stage for his vendetta
against Mozart. If there's one thing most
viewers probably take away from the
film, it's Mozart's abundant
childishness, immaturity and
combativeness - that inces-
sant giggle, proclivity for
the toilet humor and ability
to push everyone's buttons.
While no saint (but ironically
the composer of more than
two-dozen choral masses)
and unquestionably weird
(he may have had Tourette's
ON Syndrome), the real Mozart
kept his potty mouth confined
to the home. A genius beyond
his age, Mozart was still a businessman,
selling his musical wares.
Forman and Shaffer do a hack job with
Mozart's integrity, but in true dramatic
fashion, they give him a little too much
credit for his natural ability. In the film,
an envious Salieri mourns God's gift to
Mozart: "His drafts showed no correc-
tions of any kind. He was simply writing
down music already finished in his head,
page after page as if he were taking dic-
tation. ... Displace one note and there
would be diminishment, displace one
phrase and the structure would fall."
But this doesn't account for years of
study with Haydn, the hard work and
immense knowledge of musical tradition
and history. By his own admission, or
perhaps admitted out of pride, Mozart
said, "People make a mistake who think
my art has come easily to me. Nobody
has devoted so much time and thought to
composition as I."
Two-hundred-fifty years after his
birth, Mozart - as we know him - is
best known because of a movie. But it's
the music in the first place - whether
begotten by birth or by hard work, and
whether received with glee or resent-
ment - that continues to inspire the
likes of Einstein, Beethoven, Shaffer
and Forman. Mozart may not like what
many think of him nowadays, but he
need not fret over what we think of his
Happy birthday, Wolfie.

Courtesy of Fresh Kid Ice

2 Live Crew's Fresh Kid Ice will perform tonight at Touchdown Cafe.

Brother Marquis, Ice maintains the group's legacy.
"I haven't been (in Ann Arbor) in a few years, so I
just want to bring back some of the music to the people.
It's been over three years," he said.
As creators of one of the original molds for South-
ern rap, 2 Live Crew has affected most hip hop in
heavy rotation today.
"Without 2 Live Crew, hip hop would be kind of
bland;' he said. "Not too many groups (would have
taken) the chance that we and N.W.A. took at that time
with the music and standing up for what we believed."
Ice added that Southern-style, 2 Live Crew-inspired
hip hop has had a rebirth in recent years.
"(Southern hip hop) is getting back to the club style
kind of music," he said. "A lot of people out there right
now are going to the club and relaxing instead of taking
on the stress, and trying to have a good time."
Because 2 Live Crew inspired much of the music

that comes from the South today, Fresh Kid Ice can
empathize with artists who are dealing with issues of
censorship. Songs considered offensive or immoral for
their anti-female and violent content still exist in the
catalogs of rappers today.
"You're always going to get critics, and for them to
be artists, they have to go out and express themselves
how they want" he said. "People are going to like you
because of your music and critics are going to criticize
you (because of) your subject matter, but they have to
just keep being themselves and keep going with it"
Many rappers forget where they began after hitting
it big and leave smaller venues in the shadows, but
Fresh Kid Ice's return to Ann Arbor proves he hasn't
forgotten his roots and the people who supported him
in the beginning.
"It's the people who make us by ... buying records or
coming to support us at shows" he said.

- Go transmits evil keg viruses
via Mozart CDs. Trust us. Tell her
to stop at aligo@umich.edu.

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