February 20, 2006
arts. michigandaily. com
(lbe Ilirbigau , taUll
One fine candy shop
Courtesy of 20th
ewsflash: Rap didn't begin with
KRS-One and Public Enemy.
It's a common, frequently
ageist reaction against modern hip hop to
ignorantly hearken back to an age when
every street-corner MC was apparently a
divinely inspired Achebe/Milton of the
American black ghetto.
Of course, these people, like Bill
Cosby, seem to have embraced a nostal-
gic blind spot.
Rap began at block par-
ties. Rap started to make
people move. Rap beats
began when a DJ (Kool
Herc) realized that people.
actually danced during the
"breakdown" (the post-;
bridge moments in soul
when the beat becomes r
simple, percussive drum
kicks and snares). Of
course, for some, this is EVA
exclusively a moment of McGA
genesis, of a half-formed
spirit that would only gain a vividness
and purpose when MCs (initially a com-
plementary class alongside graffiti artists,
B-boys and DJs) started caring less about
the beat and more about the language.
Like it or not, hip hop was first inspired
by Jamaican dub-plate reggae before The
Last Poets. It's just like writing any other
song: First the music, then the words.
And to all young MCs: They call it flow
for a reason.
Now, it's foolish and reductive to
- using the previous paragraphs as proof
- come to the misleading assertion that
Sugarhill Gang > Rakim. Or Furious Five
> Big Daddy Kane.
But what it does do is lead nicely into
a defense of the bane of backpackers,
"enlightened" white kids and larval hip-
hop critics everywhere: pop rap.
The genre usually gets a brusque criti-
cal appraisal. It's "disposable," tailored for
15-year-old white girls in Metro Detroit/
New York City/Chicago who couldn't
find Jamaica, Queens with Google maps
and MapQuest (double true).
But here's the shocking thing: Some
of the stuff that falls under the candy-rap
umbrella is actually quite good. It just
needs a separate set of criteria.
Nelly is a success because he knows
he's populace dance rap. He gets the most
obscenely kinetic arrangements, slathers
his albums with featured artists du jour
and has the self-knowledge to rap about
what he know about: backyard parties,
late model Cut Supremes, Hypno and,
most recently, grills.
Nelly wears no false clothing. He's
not Ja Rule, pouting and pontificating
onstage as the next Tupac before slip-
ping into Rick's-ready aural
bon-bons with J.Lo. In some
ways, you could argue that
most charming, sustainable
pop rappers (Nelly, Fabolous,
Fat Joe), are more honest with
themselves than the 50 Cents
of the world.
Like any other subset of a
musical genre, pop rap has a
horde of chaff. Apply a new set
of criteria to pop rap - effec-
N tiveness of melody (i.e. kinetic
IVEY ass factor, or KAF), lyrical
authenticity (no threats from
Bow Wow amid "Fresh Azimiz") and'
most importantly, endurance (Fabolous's
pop-anthem-laden albums puts him far
above the fleeting, temporal breeze of
D4L) - and the genre has as much depth
as the always celebrated and slavishly
praised "conscious" genre from which
most of our peers never return. No genre
has intrinsic superiority to any other;
only specific artists versus each other.
Candy rap is not inferior to "conscious
rap." Fabolous is more effective than Da
Brat; Mos Def is more effective than AZ.
Cross-genre comparisons are fun, and
worthy bar debates, but essentially impos-
sible. Mos Def is constructing a narrative.
Nelly is actually more didactic: He's try-
ing to get you to dance.
Debate may be more collegiate than
dancing, but it's certainly younger.
And for those who need the permis-
sion of a canonical rap figure to enjoy
anything, ask anyone who saw DJ Kool
Herc's show at the Pig earlier this winter:
Herc didn't play Cormega and Common.
He played Fat Joe. Hip hop may just
inverse the old Auden quote - when it
comes to rap, the old are never wrong.
- Learn more about KAF by e-mailing
McGarvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASSEMBLY-LINE SPOOF FALLS INTO RANDOM CHAOS
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
While enjoying a fine, mainstream comedy, per-
haps some of us have pondered, "What's the worst that
could happen? How bad can a
bad film really be?" For years, Date Movie
it seemed as if we could only
conjecture from catastrophes At the Showcase
like "Joe Dirt" and all of Rob and Quallty 16
Schneider's recent work. But 20th Century Fox
friends, a real answer is finally
upon us. May I present the 85-minute, patchwork-con-
structed concussion of a film, "Date Movie."
To say this movie has a plot would be a grave
violation of modern civilization's most basic tenets
of narrative storytelling. The thrown-together
events center around Julia Jones (Alyson Han-
nigan, "American Pie"), an overweight waitress
searching for her prince charming. That prince is
Grant Funkeyerdoder (say it quickly to yourself a
couple times), played by little-known, little-loved
newcomer Adam Campbell.
But before they can get married and live happily
ever after, Julia and Grant decide to spoof a relent-
less onslaught of movies, good and bad, from the
past few years such as "Meet the Parents," "The
Wedding Planner" and "Hitch."
The spoofs themselves are handled with such sick-
ening lack of taste and tact that their comic effect
induces more sorrow than laughter (nonexistent
while watching the film, unless you have the uncon-
scionable misfortune of watching it in the company
of fart-joke-mongering middle schoolers)..
There are several parody sequences unceremoni-
ously crammed in for no apparent reason other than
to piggyback on the popularity of movies that didn't
completely suck (recent hits such as "King Kong"
and "Wedding Crashers"), and though no part of the
film is even remotely coherent, these scenes espe-
cially will elicit sorrow from the poor viewer who
decides to bring his brain along.
As outwardly awful as the film might be, it must
have some redeeming qualities, right? Well, how about
the scene involving beating up a homeless perspn?
No? OK, how about the flatulent cat? The persistent
goat-related sex jokes? The cat licking a corpse? The
black man married to an Indian woman with Japanese
and Greek offspring? You get the idea - there isn't a
single valuable thought or idea in this film.
That said, some spoofs work better than others in
this pile of cinematic refuse. The send-up of "Mr.
& Mrs. Smith" gets a smile, though it's completely
worthless in context. The "My Big Fat Greek Wed-
ding" parody near the beginning is benign enough
(Opppaahhh!!!), and Jon Heder, still milking his
"Napoleon Dynamite" credentials to the fullest
extent, provides the only real laugh of the whole film
- about 40 seconds in. Perhaps these little bits them-
selves deserve some recognition, but put together with
the other 80 minutes of traumatic stupidity, the film
deserves no real attention or respect.
So remember, the worst that could happen is very
serious: "Date Movie" could be fatal to someone
even remotely humanoid. It represents the most
rank style of filmmaking imaginable. This is, with-
out question, the worst film in years.
Boyz not on 'Top' yet
By Andrew Kahn
Daily Arts Writer
They say it's not what you say, but how
you say it. Well, Dem
Franchize Boyz aren't
saying anything new, Dem
nor are they saying it Franchize
any differently than BoyZ
most Southern rap-
pers. But their sopho- On Top of
more outing, On Top Our Game
of Our Game, remains So So Def
afloat thanks to mod-
estly catchy hooks and groovy beats.
The four-man crew (Jizzal Man, Par-
Jae, Pimpin and Buddie) from the west
side of Atlanta might not be familiar, but
you've probably heard "White Tee" from
their self-titled debut. Lyrically, the group
hasn't grown much since their original
2004 release, but they did hook up with
Jermaine Dupri. Now, JD might be a
lesser-known, less-wealthy, shorter ver-
sion of Diddy - but he's always been able
to sell records (Mariah didn't perform
that comeback all by herself). So when
Dupri remixed a little-known track from
their debut and added a couple of So So
Def artists, the result was a No. 1 spot on
the R&B/hip-hop singles chart. The song
is titled "I Think They Like Me (So So
Def Remix)," featuring Bow Wow and Da
Brat. Spunky horns and an-easily repeat-
able hook make for a great anthem song.
The Boyz try for that catchy anthem on
nearly all of the album's 12 tracks, which
leads to extreme repetition. On one song
they're shouting, "Bitch stop callin' me
(bitch stop callin' me), /I ain't gon' pick
the phone the up (I ain't gon pick the
phone up)," and a few tracks later they're
chanting, "Bitch don't play wit me (bitch
don't play wit me), / I ain't the one to fuck
wit (I ain't the one to fuck wit)." Wow.
Songs such as the slower, meaningful
"Give Props" help round out the album.
On this particular track, the boys remi-
nisce about their struggle to establish
themselves in the music industry, and,
while hardly groundbreaking, it's quite
refreshing given the rest of the album's
Regardless of obvious shortcomings,
Dem Franchize Boyz have another legiti-
mate hit single with "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit
It." It falls under the newly invented cat-
egory of snap music (think of the annoying
"Laffy Taffy"), which is becoming very
popular. "Lean Wit It" includes a woozy
whistle-over, and, well, a snappy beat. Plus,
the instructive music video shows exactly
how to "lean" and "rock" wit' it.
On Top of Our Game never gets past
trite concepts like easy women and
glossy jewelry. The gang clearly tries too
hard to turn every chorus into something
chantable and fails. There is effort here,
as well as some decent production. And
there's a hidden bonus track, too: "Yup,
in my white tee."
By Kristin MacDonald
Daily Arts Writer
Burt Munro is a far cry from Anthony
Hopkins's better-known, brain-eating
Dr. Hannibal Lec-
tor, though per- The World's
haps the two are Fastest Indian
But rather than At the
tasty body parts, Michigan Theater
Burt is preoccu- Magnolia
pied with his 1920
Indian motorcycle - more specifically,
with making it go faster.
Originally, the thing topped out at 45
miles per hour. But little by little, over
the majority of his life and after many
additions to the shelf of failed pistons
marked "offerings to the gods of speed,"
"Biggest fish I ever caught."
Burt fixes up that bike with rapt deter-
mination: His goal is to push it to more
than 200 miles per hour.
A beloved fixture of his small New
Zealand town, Burt is an eccentric codger
of the best sort - he calls Confucius a
"bloke" and takes a leak on his backyard
lemon tree every morning. And, amus-
ingly enough, the twin brother who died
in his youth was actually named Ernie.
Part character study, "The World's Fast-
est Indian" winds up part odyssey as well,
following Burt's journey as he carts that
beloved Indian from his cozy New Zea-
land hometown to the speed-conducive
Bonneville Salt Flats of northern Utah.
It's a long trek, made all the more difficult
by Burt's perpetual financial pinch and
ominous heart trouble.
Blessed with affable, salt-of-the-
earth cheer, though, Burt manages,
and rolls gamely through the various
adventures and colorful characters that
help him along. There's a boorish cab
driver in rudely neon Hollywood, a
lonely Utah woman who offers Burt a
night in her bed and even an absurdly
menacing, leather-clad band of motor-
cycle ruffians who challenge Burt to a
"Grease"-style drag race.
But no matter how amiable, "Indi-
an" finally overstuffs itself, dissolv-
ing into a ramble that glosses over
Burt's many acquaintances rather than
exploring them. Based on a true story,
writer-director Roger Donaldson ("The
Recruit") attempts to squeeze in every
event from Burt's life, though the film
would have been better served by a
more selective hand.
Hopkins, however, is in top form, ren-
dering Burt an appealing old man and
pulls off the famously tricky New Zea-
land accent. It's too bad the film wears
its feel-good nature so blatantly on its
sleeve, undermining the emotional pull
of his performance with schmaltzy back-
ground music and prototypically heart-