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February 15, 2007 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-15

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1 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
' Cyde
For the Daily
It's official: Akon's single "Smack That" is
overplayed. Don't let fraternity guys, socially
anxious underclassmen or the Scorekeeper's
DJ tell you any differently. The beat sounds too
much like Usher's 2004 hit "Yeah!" to be origi-
nal, and Eminem's mailed-in verse only speeds
his tailspin from the bright, creative center of
hip-hop royalty to shallow, royalties-centered
hip hop. His is the most disappointing career
devolution in music. And on top of that, Akon
can't even craft a new word for ass - at least
Mystikal had the bravado to tell us what to
shake. But there's always a place for songs like
"Smack That" in the college partyscape.
Just like the red cups and kegs of Natty Light,
fun-loving students need to recognize songs
like "Smack That" for what they are: addictions.
Sure, it wasn't so bad at first. Who can forget
the rush and the ecstasy of the first time you
heard Lil' John scream "WHAT!"? The crowds
couldn't get enough and before long, the main-
stream craved more. How else can Unk's career
be explained?
Soon, Akon, Unk and others will be forgotten
- and deservedly so. Not all forgotten party-
rappers warrant such a fate. The Pharcyde, an
* early-'90s poor-man's A Tribe Called Quest, are
the most consistently overlooked and under-
valued contributors to hip hop. A feel-good,
tongue-in-cheek group, Slim Kid, Imani, Bootie
Brown and Fatlip were the alternative to West
Coast gangsta rap. Never much of a commer-
cial success, they represent what should be in

{the b-sidel,

Thursday, February 15, 2007 - 3B

A student's passion
for neo-soul and R&B

Courtesy of Chapter 1 Records
Despite rooting for the wrong football team, The Pharcyde is a necessary installment for any lover of hip hop-

hip hop today. Their career was a tragic tale
mired by crack addiction, commercial failure
and a considerable lack of gats. Their biggest
hit, "Passing Me By," was the opposite of Dr.
Dre and Snoop Dogg's party-friendly misogyny.
The group masquerades as thumb-twiddling
nervous teenagers, petrified by their dream
girls. The lyrics lament like a pro.
Look to the past, young
squire. There you will
find good hip hop.
Their other hit, the smooth "Runnin,' "reluc-
tantly embraces the tough-guy image in the
chorus ("Can't keep runnin' away") and Bootie
Brown's moan: "My pappy never told me / how
to knock a nigga out." Every good stoner will
(should) recognize the hazy "Pack the Pipe,"
the feature track on Dave Chappelle's "Half
Baked" soundtrack. And their record industry
critique "Somethin' That Means Somethin' "
should be required listening for this genera-
tion. Sadly, coy rappers and reluctant ghetto

heroes (regardless of THC intake) didn't fare
well. Still, their midtempo style and sense of
humor make the group's album Bizarre Ride II
The Pharcyde an undeniable classic. The Phar-
cyde is California attitude with enough gusto to
power the party into the deep night.
Thankfully, The Pharcyde is not lost. Bootie
Brown's appearance on the Gorillaz's Demon
Days shines. Regretfully, a reformed duo limps
on, a musical amputee.
To be fair, there are certainly bright spots
in today's hip hop. Ghostface's Fishscale and
The Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury were the best
albums of 2006. Old-school roots are celebrated
and resurrected in the likes of the OkayPlayers
troupe, Canadian-born K-os, DJ Shadow, RJD2
and the community-college version of Com-
mon, Lupe Fiasco.
The mainstream brand of vapid, hyper-pro-
duced hip hop continues to dominate. While
most public playing of old-school hip hop is
reserved for theme parties - and even then,
usually limited to Sir Mix-A-Lot and "Nuthin'
but a G Thang" - the The Pharcyde and other
forgotten gems go unheard, scripts unflipped.
How to rescue parties and eardrums nation-
wide? An immediate ceasefire of assaulting
beats is needed, and as Akon says, "just kick it
like Tae Bo."

Daily Arts Writer
LSA sophomore Valencia Waller
has been surrounded by music all
her life - even before she was born.
"My parents ,
both sang in choirs
all their lives so
my sister, Valau-
rian, and I were
surrounded by
singing even when
we were in the
womb," Waller said. WALLER
Today Waller reminisces about
what first inspiredher pursue music
as a trade: "I know it sounds cliche,
but it's the universal language, and
it has so much power over people's
Growing up in Detroit with a
prominent musical influence from
her own family, music came to
Waller like walking or talking.
"Actually, my entire family sings,
including my parents, my sister
Valaurian and my younger brother
Nicholas," she said. "We're also
related to jazz composer Fats Waller
who was a great singer in his time."
With such an illustrious musical
background, it almost seems as if
Waller would be constantly pres-
sured to pursue a career in music,
but the songstress says that it was
something that just came easy to
her. "There was never any pressure
for me to sing, it was just like a nat-
ural outlet for me."
Even in childhood, Valencia
knew that music was going to play
a major role in her life. Living in
Motown she found plenty of groups
and venues that allowed her to
spread her voice to large crowds.
"From age 8to13, I performed all
over Detroit as a part of the FLICS
Choir. We hit places all over the city,
even a Million Man March event on
Belle Isle. Then, from age 13 to 15, I
performed with the Rudy Hawkins
Singers, which is an adult choir."
After years of performing with
different groups and choirs, Valen-
cia began to find her own particular
style of R&B and neo-soul.
"I feel it's easy to convey feelings

through R&B, and it's so open you
can write about anything. As far as
neo-soul goes, I love that it's less
commercial since it's so new."
With her individual style and
years of experience, Waller became
a solo performer.
"I did a tour around high schools
through Bunchey's Pizza pro-
moting positive messages to high
school students, but right now I'm
just in and out of the studio, making
Even though she loves to per-
form locally, Waller is ready to take
her talent to the professional level,
negotiating a contract with BDR
Records, a record company in Los
Avoiding the
will of the music
"I think the best fit for me would
be either J Records or Epic. They
both seem to be loyal to their artists
and their legacies are perpetuated
through them."
Atthe University,Wallerhasper-
formed at the Bursley/Baits Talent
Show, U-Club Poetry Slam, Sigma
Lambda Beta Valentine's Date Auc-
tion and placed second in lastyear's
Michigan Idol.
Waller is focused on her path to
the music industry and who she
wants to be. "I want to have my
own style with Beyonc's business
savvy attitude, India.Arie's subject
matter and how she doesn't let the
industry change her, and legends
like Donny Hathaway for their level
of musicianship."
Waller knows exactly where she
want to be.
"I want to become an artist
and share my own music without
becoming a product of the industry
and what theythink I should be. My
goal is to change music for the bet-
ter, because it's not really a business
venture for me; it's a passion."

Oh, the horror of modern horror

For the Daily
Don't tell any preteens, but hor-
ror films used to be more than just
brutal, shocking images of blood
and entrails splattered across the
screen. There was once a palpable
sense of fear, sometimes only sug-
gested, in the mix as well. No one
would argue that today's horror
doesn't have the shock part down,
but what about the fear?
Eversince "Scream" rejuvenated
the genre more than a decade ago,
barely a month passes without one
or two new horror movies. How
new can they really be? It's all been
done before: the torture scenes,
the endless parade of disembow-
eling and impaling, the contrived
excuses for plot intended merely as
filler between the money shots of
gore. Every movie is made with the
same formula in mind, and sadly,
as the successes continue, so will
the endless rip-offs.
Shelling out $7 to sit through
montages of men and womenbeing
tortured is simply ridiculous. And
yet films like "Hostel" and "Saw"
- not to mention their numer-
ous sequels ("Hostel II" and "Saw
IV" are coming at you later this
year) - make massive amounts
of money. Today's audiences are
brainwashed into thinking that

this is horror, that this is true fear.
When we look back at the horror
of our time, you have to wonder
what will be remembered. "Saw?"
"Boogeyman?" Hardly the stuff of
horror classics.
Ever since "Scream" brought
teen horror back into the forefront
with self-conscious characters
who knew they were in a horror
movie, the trend has been ironical-
ly to go back to the genre's modern
beginnings of "Friday the 13th"-
style slasher shows. It's as if the
whole Hollywood population got
together and decided on two main
goals: less plot, more killing.
Ever since this rather inauspi-
cious beginning, horror films have
continued to rely on shock above
substance. As today's teen culture
continues to drown in Red Bull and
"World of Warcraft," it's clear that
real fear is gone for good. If a film
like "The Exorcist" was released
today, reviews would probably
label it tame, which in today's par-
adigm means certain failure.
In the late '90s, it seemed as if
horror might have found its savior
with the arrival of intelligent ghost
stories like "The Sixth Sense" and
"The Others," not to mention the
arrival of M. Night Shyamalan,
once hailed as the second com-
ing of Steven Spielberg. But even
Shyamalan soon resorted to the

"gotcha!" scares of today's hor-
ror movies with "Signs" and "The
Village" (we won't even go into
"Lady in the Water"). But the idea
seemed to work, and there's no
What happened
to the fun of
being scared?
reason it can't be revived now. At
the time, audiences began crav-
ing a different type of horror film
- one that actually involves think-
ing. Now it's just up to Hollywood
to deliver.
The very best horror of the past,

like "Psycho" and, more recently,
"The Sixth Sense," left it up to the
audience to piece together much of
what wasn't beingshown on screen,
a tactic that can be infinitely more
disturbingthangraphicgore. These
are the moments where our imagi-
nations take over. Once the guts
(quite literally in most cases) of the
film are revealed, the true element
of horror often disappears.
If the onslaught of forthcom-
ing films - "Dead Silence" and
"The Hills Have Eyes 2" to name
a couple - is any indication, we're
in for a rough road ahead. Let's
return the focus to less killer, more
filler. Give audiences what's been
lacking in horror movies for years:
clever plot and actual scares, not
just the gore. Let's put the fun back
in being scared.


e 7711-
Enjoy & Earn f to 10
a, i_7

By Oliver Goldsmith
Dept. of Theatre & Drama . Directed by John Neville-Andrews
Feb. 15 at 7:30 PM ."Feb. 16 & 17 at 8 PM
Feb. 18 at 2 PM . Mendelssohn Theatre
Tickets $22 & $1 6 - Students $9 with ID
League Ticket Office . 734-764-2538

Limited area, 6-9 pm.

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