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September 06, 2006 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-06

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 13

Match point
POP-CULTURE COLUMN

It's funny how things co
circle. As a kid, I dis
tennis first and Top 40 ra
some time after. The carefr
tude and refreshingly gauch
cal taste of a 10 year
old - riding shotgun
in Mom's car, listening
to a provocative new
Britney jam - there's
nothing quite like it.
Last week, one of
the most dynamic ten- r
nis players of the last
half-century walked
off into the proverbial
sunset after a four-set
loss at the U.S. Open,
ending a career ripe
with Grand Slam vic-
tories, blindingly neon tennis
and incomparable rockets ft
baseline.
A 21-year run on the p
encompassed fluctuating ran
Hollywood marriage and an
pic gold medal. Andre Aga
and once again became th
and I loved him not just bec
his line-kissing backhands
personal faults. From a brash
Turk with a wild mane of h
the audacity to spit at an
Agassi evolved to become his
most genteel representative,
toward the U.S. Open's thus
crowd in the four cardinal di
Sept. 3, dressed in the Wimi
approved tennis whites he
refused to wear.
But Agassi could have
out quite differently, his
pathetically snuffed after i
and questionable work ethic
mid-1990s found him plum
from No. I in the world to N
After his brief marriage to
Brooke Shields (best knowi
late for feuding with Tom
and playing herself with ts
aplomb on "Entourage"),.
did a complete 180. He shav
his thinning hair - already
cropped after years with a fer
mullet - and completely re
diet and exercise regimen, d
himself to tennis and runni
Last Vegas hills with his
(He ditched the neon too.) A
a reverse Sampson, a reinvig
Agassi pigeon-toed his way I
the top, winning the French
in 1999.
Incidentally, several pop
artists - barely legal and a
first respective waves of s
when Agassi experienced hi
Shields resurgence in the
2000s - have been entering
two of their careers. Look
select Mickey Mouse Club
bers and their contemporari
possible to chart them on the
scale. Aguilera, Timberlake,
son and, sadly, Spears: How
to evaluate their current p
standing by comparing them
nis's most prominent poptsta
Christina Aguilera is the
Agassi, the misdirected v
who had to realize she was m
her natural chops. She's divor

me full self from her unclean poptart image
covered and reinvented herself as a jazzed-up
dio pop blonde bombshell. Her voice is still
ee atti- money, and it lends itself to every
e musi-sinch of the spotlight now with singles
like the brassy "Ain't No
Other Man" now that
her multi-colored dread-
locks and assless chaps
aren't distractions (see:
the video for "Dirrty"
and self-love torch song
"Beautiful;' despite its
message). And it's unde-
niable that her upgraded
breasts look loads better
KIMBERLY in an evening gown than
a strategically slashed
CHOU biker vest.
From the looks of it,
outfits Aguilera and her former Mouseke-
om the teer pal Justin Timberlake are hav-
ing the best 2006 compared to their
ro tour coevals. Timberlake, however, has
kings, a managed to avoid his "Dirrty" period
Olym- so far, instead spending time after his
ssi was successful debut solo album squiring
e man, Cameron Diaz and acting in two or
ause of three small films about journalism
but his and drug pushers. Or something like
Young that. Critics of the bubblegum pop
air and reign of boy bands and teen queens
official, in the late '90s brushed JT aside
sport's as simply a pretty face with decent
kissing dance moves, kind of like Agassi
iderous as a teen wonder. It's easy toghate
ections on young phenoms, but it's not just
bledon- Timberlake's commercial viability
once that makes FutureSex/LoveSounds
one of the most anticipated album
gone releases this fall.
career And then there exist times of
njuries peril. Agassi once skipped out on
in the the last match of the Davis Cup via
meting private jet, leaving the rest of the
to. 141. U.S. team to explain his actions.
actress There's the whole spitting on the
n as of umpire incident, and he was Bar-
Cruise bara Streisand's date to an awards
wo-star show once. Bad decisions. Jessica
Agassi Simpson and, to a lesser extent,
ed bare younger sister Ashlee, are living
close- the life of Badass Andre. Jessica
ocious is wasting her glass-shattering
did his voice on throwaway songs like
evoting "Public Affair" and choosing
ng the film roles possibly worse than
trainer. Agassi's part in a god-awful Nike
nd like ad with the Red Hot Chili Peppers
orated championing "rok'n'roll tennis."
back to Becoming a fixture in the super-
Open market tabloids isn't the path to
a Wimbledon title or a little gold
music gramophone.
n their Recently I've rekindled my love
uccess for tennis, and - as a result of a
s post- summer in Ann Arbor with BET
early and MTV - Top 40 radio, which
phase may not end up as embarrassing as
ing at it sounds.
mem- With the cold months soon to
es, it's arrive and no more Andre Agassi
Agassi tennis matches on TV, I'll just wait
Simp- for Britney Spears to divorce the
better hanger-on spouse, rethink her work-
sopular out regimen and push herself back
to ten- into cultural relevance.(French Open
r? win optional.)

Courtesy of DefJam
The Roots return in strong form with Game Theory.
RO-TS RPERVIVAL?
ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN HIP-HOPPERS FLIP THE SWITCH

By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC R EVIEW WN
The Roots formed in Philadelphia
almost 17 years ago, and since then they
have been known as a high-brow outfit
with an uncompromising force, captivat-
ing lyrics and genuine
beats, although recent- The Roots
ly it seems their pres-
ence in the industry has Game Theory
been sorely lacking. In Def Jam
the 7 years following
the masterful and ter-
minal Things Fall Apart, they've lived
with the stigma of consistently producing
lackluster albums that don't live, or sell,
up to the hype.
Lately, the group has spent more time
perceived as separate figures in the media,
with ?uestlove and Black Thought step-
ping out and making names for themselves
outside the relatively limiting umbrella of
the Roots. With the release of their latest
album, Game Theory, fans want to know
if these same players can finally resurrect
the popularity they created with Things
Fall Apart, the short answer being an
enthusiastic yes.

The band has performed for artists
such as Jay-Z (in both "MTV Unplugged"
and the concert turned movie "Fade To
Black") and in Dave Chappelle's "Block
Party." The band's drummer, ?uestlove,
has been seen everywhere from the velvet
seat next to Jay Leno to a barbershop with
Chappelle on "Chappelle's Show." And
MC Black Thought has collaborated with
other artists as eclectic as Talib Kweli and
Mike Shinoda, without really reaffirming
his patriarchal presence in the group.
Game Theory sees the Roots staying true
to the politically outraged lyrics that made
themselves and other artists like Mos Def
and Talib Kweli stand out from the bulk of
backpackers. "False Media" stands out as
a tribute to illegitimate hustle and survival
in deprived areas. With Black Thought's
verse starting "If I can't work to make it
/ I'll rob and take it / Either that or me
and my children'll starve in the naked"
the track travels through an empowering
narrative for the downtrodden.
As the reliable MC of the group, Black
Thought doesn't use much vocal collabo-
ration on the album except for a couple
hooks by relative unknowns like Merce-
dez Martinez and Maimouna Youssef. But
in a few of the album's standout moments,
the group's estranged second MC, Malik

B, returns to renew his partnership with
Black Thought on tracks like "In The
Music" and "Game Theory". Addition-
ally, in an unnatural but brilliant tag team
effort, Black Thought flows with fellow
Philly native Peedi Crack. Crack, normal-
ly known for his fast-paced, sharp verses
with Roc-A-Fella Records' State Property
ensemble, lends a gritty feel to the already
rough "Long Time."
At the heart of the group sits ?uestlove
on his drummer's throne. Almost unargu-
ably the preeminent hip-hop percussion-
ist, ?uest is as tight as ever here, holding
the album together with his elastic soul.
A slightly subtle undertone runs
through Game Theory in the form of a
tasteful memorial to well-respected hip-
hop producer Jay Dilla, who died ear-
lier this year. The album starts with the
intro "Dillatastic Vol Won(derful)" which
holds a slow and melodic downbeat for
The Roots to walk in on. The final track
is "Can't Stop This," which begins with
Black Thought sharing a few words about
the producer who had a powerful impact
on not only The Roots, but hip hop as a
whole, followed by a heart-string-tugging
track where he explains how he can't stop
pushing positive music for everyone who
feels the struggle.

----------

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reborn
irtuoso
isusing
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- Chou needs a new
tennis partner. Email her at
kimberch@umich.edu.

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