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December 05, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-12-05

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - 5A

R. Kelly vs. Marvin
Gaye?Believe it

the death
plot again

love to argue about music,
but most people don't. There
does, though, seem tobe one
person that alot of people have
some pretty strong opinions about:
Robert Kelly. Want to start a fight
at a party or alienate your friends?
Tell them that R. Kelly is the Mar-
vin Gaye of our generation. I guar-
antee the conversation doesn't end
I really do believe that R. Kelly
is a genius, and
I don't bandy
that term about
lightly. So was
Marvin Gaye;
that's not even
really up for
debate. In fact,
they're bril-
liant for similar CARGO
reasons, so why
do people who
revere the latter
not take the former seriously?
The argumentgenerally starts
with "He sucks cause he pees on
kids," which isn't really fair. Yes,
he has been charged with as much,
and the video is pretty damning,
but that has absolutely nothing to
do with his music. All sorts of bril-
liant people have done far nastier
things. We're able to separate their
art from their messy personal lives
but, for some reason, R. Kelly is a
monster to many. Marvin Gaye had
a sex addiction and a formidable
porn collection, but no one holds
that against him (rightfully so).
To a lot of other people, R. Kelly
is just a joke. "How can you take
him remotelyseriously? He's, like,
retarded!" is another familiar
retort. No, he's like, funny. Humor
is an element that's been missing
from music for a little while now,
but it wasn't always-so rare. R. Kelly
isn't afraid to laugh at himself, to
write ridiculous lyrics or make
hilarious YouTube videos. And you
know what? It works.
The one thing no one can argue
about is R. Kelly's undeniable suc-
cess. He burst onto the R&B scene
in 1992 with supporting band Pub-
lic Announcement for his debut
album, Born into the '90s, and
has never looked back. Thirteen
mega-selling albums and 15 years
later he's still making hits. From
"I Believe I Can Fly" to "Ignition
(Remix)" to "Real Talk," he's never
let up, still on top of the charts
and in heavy rotation even while
wrapped up in controversy.
I'm talking about hits he writes,
produces and records himself. Hits

he's written for other people, hits
that he's sung with other people
- and I'm nottalking about Ashanti
and Ja Rule. I'm talking about
The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Nas
and Michael Jackson. Those guys
respected him, and no one would
ever shit on their tastes or accom-
plishments. Sales don't mean every-
thing - a lot of people I'd say aren't
talented sell a lot of albums, but lon-
gevity and the ability to evolve with
trends are something only great
artists can claim.
As for the Marvin Gaye com-
parison, I'm not sure I would put
R. Kelly's voice on par with the
Motown crooner, but the two stack
up similarly, both having an innate
skill for songs of the erotic variety.
Quick, which one wrote "You Sure
Love to Ball" and which one wrote
"Honey Love"? There's not so much
of a difference here, and one could
even argue that Kelly's sex meta-
phors are abit more skillful. Sure,
"The Zoo" and "Sex Planet" aren't
the type of songs that have women
droppingtheir panties, but that's
hardly the point.
R. Kelly has successfullyturned
into a parody of himself, and
whether you believe he's in on the
joke or not, he's entertaining. Case
in point: Trapped in the Closet. A
brilliant, somewhat original format
Kelly dubbed "Hip-Hopera" and
released in chapters was such a hit
it got the ultimate honor of a South
Park parody.
That R. Kelly is a genius because
he's a supremely talented joke and
Marvin Gaye was a genius because
of his social and erogenous sensitiv-
ity is where people usually gethung
up. But that's when "... of our gen-
eration" part comes in.
That comparison is serious, but
it's also an indictment of where
music and its social conscience have
gone. The fact that hip hop has lost
perspective on the original voice of
its creators and their intents isn't
R. Kelly's fault, and ina lot of ways,
he's turned things back around. R.
Kelly isn't being taken advantage
of, and I think a lot of people are
scared of him because of it.
You don't have to love the man or
his music to recognize his accom-
plishments and judge him onthose
merits. R. Kelly is a tremendous
artist and, as I'm fond of saying, the
second black Jesus (the first is the
normal Jesus).
- Cargo's second-favorite topic?
Tally Hall. Loves those guys. E-mail
him at Ihcargo@umich.edu.

Sometimes cute,
sometimes too
much so, 'Daisies'
still satisfies
Daily Arts Writer
Death has been a focal point
of many television series - "The
Ghost Whisperer" and "Six Feet
Under" for
two opposite shin
examples - yet PLig
unlike most of Daisies
these shows,
"Pushing Dai- Wednesdays
sies" gives the at 8 p.m.
subject new ABC
Ned (Lee
Pace, "Wonderfalls") is a pie
monger with a unique talent:

He can bring the dead back to
life with one touch. With pri-
vate detective Emerson Cod (Chi
McBride, "Boston Public") and
re-animated childhood sweet-
heart Charlotte "Chuck" Charles
(Anna Friel, "Niagara Motel"),
he solves murder mysteries and
pulls shenanigans along the way.
The show's storybook feel and
enhanced,eye-catchingcolors are
ingenious. The characters are as
colorful as the scenery, possess-
ing hilarious quirks and twitches
without being over-the-top to the
point of unrealistic. Cod is a good
example of this: Breaking his
stereotype as the stoic detective,
Cod knits to relieve stress. After
only a few episodes, sweaters and
gun-cozies clutter his office.
So far "Daisies" hasn't fea-
tured many guest stars. It's
mainly been, "Oh, it's that guy!
I remember him from ... some-
where." But the first (semi) big

name came last week with the
arrival of Molly Shannon of "Sat-
urday Night Live." The show's
carefree spirit-- not to mention
the fantastic wardrobe of '50s-
style cinched waists, tropical
shirts and stiletto heels - will
likely attract even more stars.
But the show's lighthearted-
ness often comes at a hyper-cute
cost. It sometimes tends to dive
too far into the "separated lov-
ers" bit with Ned and Chuck, who
exchange dialogue that would
make a kitten roll its eyes. Calling
hugs "an emotional Heimlich" or
kissing through plastic wrap gets
syrupy pretty fast.
"Daisies" also occasionally
falls into "Scooby Doo" levels
of predictability. As usual, the
killer is always the least likely
suspect. For example, during the
search for the killer of Billy Bal-
sam (Mike White, "The School of
Rock") the taffy storeowner, the

audience is drawn to two charac-
ters: the conniving Dilly Balsam
(Molly Shannon) and the health
inspector. Balsam's fiery tem-
perament targets her as the all-
too-likely suspect, so the health
inspector remains the only other
possibility. Thankfully, instead
of giving the program a sitcom-
like quality where everything is
resolved by the end of each epi-
sode, the writers expand upon
previous arcs to keep viewers
"Pushing Daisies" keeps get-
ting better with more original
stars and intricate plots. Even if
the show doesn't suit your imme-
diate fancy, anyone can appre-
ciate the Technicolor Motion
Picture Corporation magic. Plus,
with its 8 p.m. time slot, viewers
have nothing else to watch but
"Kid Nation." At least "Pushing
Daisies" has dialogue other than
"deal with it."

BEANIE SIGEL FT. R. KELLY "ALL THE an anthem for the business thug person-
ABOVE" ality, "All the Above" is it.

Some say only white, indie dilatants
listen to R. Kelly for any sort of plea-
sure anymore, laughing at his outland-
ish concepts ("Sex Weed" and "Trapped
in the Closet"). But haters be damned,
the guy can fucking sing. Most recently
recruited for the opener of Beanie Sigel's
upcoming album The Solution, Kel's
boisterous claims ("I'm hood, I'm street
/ Still standing in the middle of the beat
/ I'm a mack, I'm a thug") sear through
the cinematic production of "All the
Above" while Sigel's chic Roc-A-Fella
flows ramble alongside. If ever there was


So maybe The New Pornographers'
Challengers wasn't what it should have
been. Luckily, Dan Bejar is still a bailer.
He spearheaded some of the best on the
album, and let's face it - we're all going
through beard withdrawal. Destroyer's
latest, "Foam Hands," finds Bejar in
his trademark slippery-crooning form
accompanied by the typical jingle-jangle
rising action, a well-placed, subtle guitar
solo and an everything-is-OK whistling

interlude. It's Bejar on a Sunday morn-
ing. It's Bejar on his front porch. It's
Bejar with an, um, foam hand? At least
most things are all right in Destroyer
When the first turntable scratches
suppress the fading electric guitar on
"Tony Sigel a.k.a. the Barrel Brothers,"
it's obvious Ghostface Killah isn't look-
ing to play games. He screams, "Straight
out the ghetto, I'm damn hood" over the
intoxicated beat: guitars and hazy key-
boards fighting for room tobreathe as the
bass drum kicks along the upbeat. Beanie
Sigel and Styles P (both with upcoming
albums) drop solid flows but wisely fall
in line behind the prophetic Ghostface.
Not tobe completely outshined, though,
Sigel spits "You gonna have to cut me
out of the track like cancer" as the track
climbs to its climactic end.
I still can't quite tell if I should take
Hot Chip seriously. Its title track from
2006's The Warning says it'll "Snap off
your head." Whatever, the shit is still
addicting and so is "Ready for the Floor"
from its forthcoming LP. There's a little
bit of disco, still more spastic electro-

Psst. He's holding his emotional organ!
dance, but maybe a bit too much rep-
etition in one of their more uninspired
beats. The elements almost feel too con-
sistent and their playful charm might
have - gulp - taken a hit? Good thing its
fun-loving vocals salvage the potentially
damaged goods. Just check the Joker-
inspired, paint-tossing music video for
further proof. They'll be just fine.
Broken Socialite Kevin Drew is at it
again. After the release of his beautiful
Spiritlif.. earlier this year, he returns
with a cover of New Order's "Age of
Consent." The cover melodramati-
cally paddles along a river of sustained
pianos and tense dead air. Though the
track never seems togo anywhere,
Drew's exasperated moans are more
affecting than the original and carry
the track's delicately beautiful senti-
ment. "I've never met anyone like you
before" he hums as the keyboards
become heartbreakingly distant while
Drew sounds exponentially drained.

He repeats the line before the track
fades away on the same tortured
piano that carried it throughout.
Remember laying in bed a few sum-
mers ago when all your windows were
open and all you could hear was some
garage band's muffled music echoing
off your neighbor's house? Well, The
Magnetic Fields somehow recorded it,
stamped its name on it and added inter-
mittent group shouts of "Three way!"
into the mix. The hollowed-out guitars
plod through a suburb of distortion and
feedback before being corralled in and
put back into stasis by potentially sexual,
vocal bleats. There's a certain amount of
joy in the shoe-gaze, but before a harmo-
nious climax can occur, the damn vocal
"Three way!" interrupts everything. And
I'm not a "Three-Way" without a climax.

Straight out of some anthro class on brand society.

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