The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 5A
Nas brings his
rhymes to EMU
"'m Jason Bourne in 20 years."
By JEFF SANFORD
Ladies and gents of the University, roll
your blunts up tight; dust off those old
bottles of Moet and Alize; and please,
for God's sake, put away
that tired, auto-tuned NaS
hip hop. Nas is here.
Well, not yet. But Friday,
this Friday, acclaimed 7:30 p.m.
rapper Nas will be per- Atthe EMU
forming just down the Cunvocation
road at Eastern Michi- Center
gan University's Con- $35 and $45
In 1994, Nas debuted
with the now-legendary album Illmatic.
Ever since, he has been a titan of the
hip-hop industry, maintaining a repu-
tation as the rap game's poet laureate.
Considering the elaborate rhymes and
abundant literary allusions sprinkled
generously throughout his songs - not
to mention his beautifully poignant ren-
derings of inner-city life - the title is
Yet in the 15 years since his debut, his
career hasn't been all handshakes and
backrubs. From pestering accusations
of selling out to his involvement in one
of hip hop's most notorious feuds (with
fellow rap elite Jay-Z), Nas has seen his
share of drama. But he and Jigga have
long since made amends, and his recent
the critics. His name remains one of the
most revered in hip hop today.
Nas is not one to settle into compla-
cency, and his cushy throne at the head
of the rap kingdom hasn't made him shy
away from controversy. His most recent
LP, released in July, was originally sup-
posed to be titled Nigger. But after a furi-
ous shit-storm of uproars from various
retailers and high-profile personalities
like Reverend Jesse Jackson, the album
was simply re-titled Untitled, with Nas
remarking: "The people will n always
know what the real title of this album
is and what to call it." Still, it proved to
be an epic call-out of a record - slam-
ming FOX News, belittling George W.
Bush and successfully predicting Barack
Obama's rise to the presidency. The
reviews weren't bad either, with a four-
star review from Rolling Stone and a
prestigious four-and-a-half out of five
rating from The Source.
Performing with Nas on Friday are
Royce Da 5'9", hip-hop collective Street
Justice and rapper Johnny Saxx. Native
Detroiter Royce has a history in the rap
game stretching back to 1997, when he
and Eminem collaborated and released
several tracks together. After some sig-
nificant buzz early on, a brief prison sen-
tence hampered the young rapper's rise
to fame. But now he's out and looking
again to break into the mainstream with
the upcoming March release of his fifth
album, Street Hop.
Also Detroit locals, Street Justice and
Johnny Saxx have The D in their hearts
and aim to bring Motown back into the
hip hop limelight. Undoubtedly, theywill
shine in front of the hometown crowd
Friday. The Michigan Dance Team will
also accompany all acts on stage.
It's not every day that a living legend
comes to town. And Nas truly has the
credentials to be considered, as the pro-
One of hip-hop's
most revered artists
motion for the show not-so-farfetched-
ly calls him, "One of the five greatest
emcees of all time."
Contrary to the title of Nas's 2006
effortHipHop isDead, hip hopisunques-
tionably alive. And on Friday, the evi-
dence will be indisputable to those who
make it out to the Convocation Center.
For Michigan students, free bussing
will be provided to and from the show
with proof of an MCard. Buses will leave
from the Michigan Union for the Convo-
cation Center at 7 p.m. After the- show,
buses will be running back to the Union
and to popular bars and clubs around
With Liam Neeson
onboard, this run-of-the-
mill action flick manges
to get most things right
By SHERI JANKELOVITZ
Daily Arts Writer
"Taken" appears to be an above-aver-
age action film - until you start thinking
about it. Now, thinking,
about an action film is
never a particularly good
idea because it's probably Taken
full of holes, and "Taken"
is no exception. At Showcase
Bryan Mills (Liam and Quality 16
Neeson, "Batman 20th Century Fox
Begins") is a retired
government agent try-
ing desperately to live a normal life so he
can get to know his daughter Kim (Maggie
Grace, "The Fog"). His former job drove
him to paranoia, so naturally he's opposed
to Kim jetting off with a friend to spend
her summer in Paris. Sure enough, when
they go, Kim and her friend are abducted
by a gang of Albanians faster than Mills
can say, "I told you so."
It's up to Mills to tear through Paris
until he finds his daughter, who appar-
ently has been sold into sexual slavery.
He's given only 96 hours to find her, which
explains why he's never seen eating,
showering or even sleeping. In fact, Mills
doesn't seem to need to participate in any
of these human practices;'he acts more like
Robocop or The Terminator than a flesh-
and-blood person. But he's surprisingly
effective at what he does, considering that
all the evidence he has to work with is a
string of convenient coincidences.
When it comes to action, "Taken" defi-
nitely delivers. There are car chases, fist-
fights and ample explosions. The action
scenes are also blissfully short so there's
no opportunity for them to get boring. Like
any action film, the bad guys are sniveling
weasels - caricatures whose departures
won't be mourned by anyone, least of all
the audience. The film is less about these
bad guys (none are even given names) and
more about Neeson simply wreaking havoc
on everything in his path. The man is sur-
prisingly limber for his age; perhaps more
action films will be in his future.
But then, inevitably, come the ques-
tions. How exactly is Mills not in any sort
of trouble for the fact that he has destroyed
a ton of Parisian property and killed doz-
ens of bad guys, all on his own? What
exactly is this government conspiracy he
has stumbled upon? And who keeps hiring
these henchmen? Obviously, nobody has
been teaching them how to win a firefight:
they can't hit the broad side of a barn, and
yet they're defeated by the hero with one
bullet. They could use some practice in a
While the film is undeniably ridiculous,
it's hard to nitpick, except when it comes
to the preposterously happy ending. With-
out giving it away, there is simply no way
everything could return to normal after
what transpires before the mushy conclu-
sion. Like everything else in the movie, it's
best to simply accept the flawed finish.
Like most action films, "Taken" has its
fair share of problems. And though it may
be all action and little brains, it still gets the
job done. Just don't think too much into it.
By JACK PORTER kind." It's a sharp rebuttal to Jeezy's
Daily Arts Writer claim that Obama is "stuntin' on
Martin Luther feelin' just like a king
n within the eclectic under- / Guess dis is what he meant when
d hip- he said dat he had a dream."
scene, the While MC Dilek is an icono-
ece outfit *** clast, he's just as cocky as the main-
is an out- Diek stream rappers he puts down: on
While the "Gutter Tactics" he spits, "I've had
iso named Gutter Tactics it with these half-assed kids,.only
writes Ipepac concerned with material / inferior
ally and insight, rhymes superficial." His
yconscious hypnotic delivery is backed by a
s that resonate with similarly bizarre symphony of oceanic gui-
d groups like Aesop Rock and tar growls and yawlping dissonant
hind Tricks, the accompany- chords. Despite the unconventional
ats are truly unique. Producer sounds, MC Dalek still shows his
us crafts huge soundscapes dedication to cultural roots on
ulse with layers of buzzing tracks like "Armed With Krylon,"
feedback, drawing influence where he confides his "only solace
ndiesplinter-genres like shoe- lie(s) in the language of drums."
Prone and post-rock, although Though the album keeps up a
nderlying drum loops are level of consistent quality through-
ed-down and traditional. out, the most accomplished cut is
aths of dissonance smother "Street Diction," where both mem-
fi rhythm section, illustrating bers of the DOlek duo are at their
portrait of post-modern and best. Fractals of crystalline chimes
erupt over melancholy bass yawns
while MC Dilek's tightly wound
cocky as the verses weave through the cracks.
He pays homage to the wordsmiths
pers it mocks. before him - he "hope(s) to reach
apex like Kerouac at his peak."
Dilek is innovative and daring,
dustrial life. The aesthetic but Oktopus's distinctive produc-
ent complements that of tion style threatens to drown out
dubstep producer The Bug's his MC's impassioned stanzas. It
yn Zoo, and Dilek even name- takes several careful headphone
the artiston"StreetDiction." trips to appreciate both the sonic
Ilek'sbleakvisionofthe world and lyrical depth of the album.
psulated on "We Lost Sight": Still, MC Dilek's flow and wordplay
ete terrain turned molten / can't live up to those of his more
uous days fall consecutive distinguished peers. His imagery
'ulders of men / got enough is powerful but his vocal delivery is
without beingcondemned." predictable. The danger is that the
h pessimism extends across duo will only be known for its sound
tire album and is felt right and not its rhymes, which are often
he opening salvo, "No Ques- impressively iconic, as on "2012
MtC Dilek offers up a skeptical (The Pillage)": "Lives change direc-
se to Young Jeezy's celebra- tions / like Nile we life's essence /
f President Barack Obama's Engaged eternal, we struggle with
, "My President is Black," in peril / Perhaps we are gutter, but
caustic lines: "A black presi- . your God is my devil." MC D51ek
on't ensure the sun shine / has talent, but-in his words -has
president represent his own yet to reach his apex.
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