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November 12, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-12

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 12, 2007 - 5A

Hov rejuvenated
on Gangster'

Proof that aging
rap icons can still
bring it - as long as
they stay inspired
Daily Arts Writer
When artists attain the increasingly rare
combination of commercial success and
criticr.1 acclaim, the effect can be paralyz-
ing. Having the recog-
nition of your peers as
one of the best ever and .
the status of an interna- -
tional pop icon often put ayL
a strain on the creative American
process. For superstars Gangster
like Eminem and Jay-Z, a Roc-A-Fella
self-imposed retirement
seems like the most prac-
tical solution.
But it's only a matter of time before their
creative impulses reignite. In Jay-Z's case,
the spark came after viewing an advance
screening of Ridley Scott's "American
The film, a biopic of Harlem drug lord
Frank Lucas, prompted Jay to recall his
formative years as a drug dealer. In an
interview with BlackTree TV, he described
his reaction to the screening: "It took me
back to a place that I hadn't been for a min-
ute. It just sparked all these ideas, and all
these thoughts and all these emotions that
I wasn'tdealing with."
Taking advantage of his renewed cre-
ative juices, Jay returned to the studio to
formulate a concept album loosely based
on Lucas's story. Just as Eminem produced
some of his most potent work during the
filming of "8 Mile," Jay's excursion into the

past resulted in an album that measures up.
against his previous classics.
With "American Gangster," Jay offers
his own interpretation of the film's rise-
and-fall narrative. He shies away from
establishing a concrete plot or placing his
character in a specific time period. Instead,
he focuses on capturing the emotions
behind the "genesis, rise and demise" of
the hustler. On "American Dreamin'," Jay
exudes the eagerness and desperation of a
teenage drug dealer: "It's not like we're /
Professionals movin' the decimals / Know
where to cop? nah,gotta connect?No/Who
in the f know how to be successful / Need a
personal Jesus I'm in Depeche Mode."
Skip forward to "Success" and we find
Jay as a kingpin lashing out at his detrac-
tors. While the song stands on its own as a
ferocious album cut in the vein of "PSA" or
"22 Two's," it's the track's interplay with
the film that gives it its depth. In addition
to opening with an excerpt from the film,
Jay spends the entire second verse alluding
to a scene where Lucas ruthlessly murders
a rival hustler: "I'm way too important to
be talking about extortin' / Asking me for
a portion is like asking for a coffin / Broad
daylight I off ya on switch / Vs not too
bright, goodnight, long kiss." While the
sampling of film dialogue forms a direct
connection between the two works, it's the
subtle references embedded in Jay's lyrics
throughout the album that turns American
Gangster into a true companion piece.
In an effort to reflect the tone of the
film, Jay-Z not only emulates Lucas's gang-
ster demeanor but also absorbs his intense
commitment to quality. Just as Lucas
deals strictly with the purest heroin, Jay
demands that his producers conform to a
distinct sonic vision. The result is a collec-
tion of stellar beats from some unexpected
See JAY-Z, Page 8A The man enjoys a fine cigar - and producing sick records.


'Bee Movie'less
than b-level
By ELIE ZWIEBEL his costars would
Daily Arts Writer dress the part and
act in front of ani-
Basically, "Bee Movie" bashes mated sets and blu
any and all possible jokes about screens as if they t
the use of the letter 'b' beyond were animated. G
the bounds of bedazzling the costumes and wir
audience. Any- abound. Seinfeld in
one watching -and Chris Rock ("I'
the movie will My Wife") as a m(
undoubtedly Bee Movie would have been at
begintobemoan Unfortunately,
sitting through At Quality16 were too tiresome
it until they've and Showcase and his co-filmma
crossed the bor- DreamWorks abandoned the i
ders into berat- "Bee Movie" is tot
ing anything 'b,' and totally formula
including all bastards involved in Barry ends up
"Bee Movie." trouble in his qu
If you're already tired of the rights than he ha
overuse of "b" humor, you'll only anticipated. He fint
find Jerry Seinfeld's (TV's "Sein- ing a crisis that al
feld") pet project obnoxious and sort of environmen
overdone. Instead of using his but it ends up bein
characteristic ability to subtly The other themes
insert jokes and plays on words, undeveloped. Notio
Seinfeld panders to the animated, uality and fighting
familycomedyfranchiseaudience become so entang
that's consuming cineplexes. fused that the adult
After spending a total of nine ence have to turn th
days growing up, Barry B. Benson and enjoy the prett
(Seinfeld) the honey bee is ready the animation is goo
fol his job as just another drone or innovative, butit
in the hive. At least, he's supposed impressive.
to be. Instead, freethinking and Seinfeld calls in
freewheeling Barry wants some- all his comedian
thing more than being worked thew Broderick
to death as a honey stirrer. He Halls") voices Barr
flees the coup (or hive), meets an
insect-activist florist named Van-
essa Bloome (Renee Zellwegger,
"Miss Potter") and finds himself
leading a lawsuit against people
on behalf of the bees because
(sorry about the "b" usage, but
it's inevitable) the humans are
exploitingthe bees' honey.
Apparently, the first law in bee
world is "don't talk to humans
If all bees sound and act like the It's easy and
ones in "Bee Movie," this law is
for our own good. Seinfeld rare-
ly leaves the tones of humbled fyou lie in Ann
matter-of-factness or absolute hove recling n
neurotic screech. Speaking of
Seinfeld's neurotic tone, that's right ous ide your
about the only thing New York
about the movie aside from the Cll Recycle Ann Ar
setting. Seinfeld indulges child- ca
ish puns at the expense of his Or O m0u yoU
Woody Allen-esque humor he's et them know you
developed over his career.
Seinfeld deserves some credit,
though. His original idea with
"Bee Movie" was an animated
movie with live actors. He and . . ..

Sigur Ros: no subtitles needed

3oofy '
'e-work *
ia bee suit
Think I Love
osquito. That
least original.
the logistics
for Seinfeld
kers, so they
dea. Instead,
ally animated
ic to its genre.
causing more
est for equal
ad previously
ds himself fac-
ludes to some
talist agenda,
ig half-baked.
are equally
:ns of individ-
led and con-
Its in the audi-
heir brains off
y images. But
d. It's not new
's detailed and
favors from
friends. Mat-
("beck the
y's childhood

friend, John Goodman ("Evan
Almighty") voices a Colonel-
like southern lawyer and Rip
Torn (TV's "30 Rock") lends his
gruffness to a buzzing flight-
commanding bee. Even tertiary
characters have celebrity vocals
(i.e. Larry King as Bee Larry
King, Sting as himself and Oprah
Winfrey as a judge). All this star
power becomes a distraction.
You can't help but try to pinpoint
who's voicing who as nearly every
character has a celebrity behind
"Bee Movie" opens with a few
lines about how people don't
really care about bees and how
we're ignorant to their cause.
But the movie doesn't do much
for inspiring any sort of desire to
care. Even the culminating scene
with a flowery remake of "Here
Comes the Sun" - one of the most
sympathy and joy inducing songs
ever written - doesn't provide
for a smile. Unless you're under
10 years old.

Daily Arts Writer
It's a raire and wonderful gift for
anyband to be able to reach andcap-
tivate an audience that can't under-
stand a word of its
lyrics. Iceland's
Sigur Ros tran-
scends language SigurRos
with a sound so
unique it can't be Hvarf-Heim
ignored. Hvarf- Xi
Heim breaks the
band's two-year
silence to bring back the minimal-
ist, orchestral style that has been
Sigur R6s's signature for the past
The album accompanies
"Heima," a documentary the band
made during a surprise concert
tour in Iceland. The video will
go on sale in the United States on
Nov. 20. The film is another chap-
ter in Sigur R6s's ongoing reflec-
tions on aspects of life and nature
in-Iceland. The best way to deepen
engagement in Sigur R6s's art is to
-i- - -

view the visual media provided on tied 1" on, but the band reworked
the band's website. the piece by replacing the tradi-
While the new album consists tional piano melody with alterna-
almost entirely of re-workings of tive percussion for a sound both
previously recorded songs, Hvarf- less lonesome and simplistic. While
Hiem does include three unreleased the track is sung in Hopelandic and
electric recordings: "Salka," "Hlj6- interpretation is entirely subject to
malind" and "1 Gwr." the listener's imagination, the song
Sigur R6s aims to grasp listen- was named after drummer Orri Pull
ers with the bleakness'and intense Dfrason's daughter. "Voka" became
beauty associated with Iceland the inspiration for all the acoustic
without imposing the band's lyrics recordings on Hvarf-Hiem during
upon its fans. Most of Sigur R6s's a spontaneous unplugged perfor-
music is sung in Icelandic, but some, mance at an environmental protest
including entire albums like () and in Karahnjmkar, Iceland.
three tracks on Hvarf-Heim ("Von," "Stardlfur" remains remarkably
"Voka" and "Salka") are sung in congruous in its acoustic version
an entirely nonsensical language to the original studio recording on
of the band's own invention called Agaetis Byrjun. The new version
Hopelandic. Whereas Icelandic is its original wonder, but with less
obscure enough that the songs are aggressive guitar work and the
indecipherable for most listeners, absence of electronic distortion
Hopelandic transforms the human near the fade-out that signals the
voice into an instrument entirely song's end onthe older take.
devoid of meaning except for its Simplified only slightly, the
sound. This unique trait allows the acoustically converted "Agmtis
listener to give his or her own sig See SIGUR ROS, Page 8A
nificance to the ethereal music. _--
"Voka" first appeared as"Unti-
T H E H E o DG! N A L
512 E. William (734) 663-3379

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