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March 14, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-14

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8A - Monday, March 14, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4

FAR EAST BEATS
Chinese rappers at the 'U'
Andreas Hwang discusses how hip hop
finds its way in Chinese society
By Lucy Perkins ( Daily Arts Writer

FINE ARTS COLUMN
Austen adapted

Each country has an icon that
represents its national identity to
the world. There's beer in Germa-
ny, there are pyramids in Egypt
and Panama has its canal. But
these associations can't and don't
encompass each country's culture
in its entirety. For example, China
has the Great Wall, but it also has
an extensive underground hip-
hop scene. Who knew?
On Friday, a student-organized
event sponsored by the Center for
Chinese Studies and the Confu-
cius Institute featured Chinese
rapper Young Kin, B-boy Fishball
from Hong Kong and DJ Rocklee
from Macau. Through perfor-
mances and showcases from these
Chinese-speakinghip-hop artists,
attendees had the opportunity
to experience this lesser-known
aspect of Chinese culture.
"Our main goal was to spread
awareness on campus that hip
hop in China exists," said LSA
senior Eric Couillard, who orga-
nized the event. "But at the same
time, we wanted people to learn
how hip hop is different in the
developing world versus in the
United States."
Andreas Hwang, who has taken
on the professional name Young
Kin, is one of China's most well
known rappers and was the fea-
tured speaker at the event. Born in
Switzerland, his parents moved to
Beijing when he was three months
old. When he was ten, Hwang saw
a group of kids rapping at school.
It was something he hadn't been
exposed to before, and he was
hooked immediately.
"They kind of impressed me,"
Hwang said in an interview with
The Michigan Daily. "I always
wanted to do something that
motivates people, like speaking
publicly or rapping."

In high school, Hwang began
writing his own lyrics, freestyling
and exploring the underground
hip-hop scene of Beijing for rap
battles. After he graduated, one of
the biggest hip-hop crews in Bei-
jing at the time, Yin Ts'ang, took
him. under its wing. The group
released mixtapes, one of which
included Hwang's first hit "Made
in China."
"I got a lot of attention for
that song and I started getting
approached by record labels like
Warner Music and Universal,"
Hwang said.
Even though Hwang was
beginning to be recognized as
one of the most popular rappers
in China, there was still a source
that continuously worked against
him and the other members of Yin
Ts'ang: the Chinese Ministry of
Culture.
"You end up feeling really
restricted as an artist," Hwang
said. "(The Ministry of Culture)
will have so many limitations on
what you can do that it inhibits
your growth."
Yin Ts'ang chose to ignore
The Ministry of Culture in order
to maintain its authenticity. The
group released most of its music
illegally online to express the
ideas that were important to its
members while escaping govern-
ment regulation.
"It's very frustrating. The only
way that hip-hop artists can stay
true to their culture and keep
their credibility is to do it all
underground," Hwang said. "If
you follow (The Ministry of Cul-
ture's) rules, hip hop isn't a true
form of self-expression. It's a
tricky game and we're up against
a very smart opponent."
According to Hwang, Yin
Ts'ang used rap to expose the

Young Kin from mainland China's first rap group, Yin Ts'ang, speaks last Friday.

people of China to new ideas and
opinions.
"Hip hop is an art form that is
very direct, soit's really useful for
hipping people to new slang and
concepts," Hwang said. "It's per-
fect for presenting ideas vocally
and showing how you feel the
country is changing."
Chinese hip-hop groups like
Yin Ts'ang may have exposed fol-
lowers to new concepts and ideas,
but their influence on areas out-
side the country will be slow at
best.
"We're just beginning to see
a wave of Chinese youth culture
spreading to other countries," said
Mary Gallagher, director of the
University's Center for Chinese
Studies. "It's just a matter of time,
though. China is still relatively
poor and developing - it's not able
to have a big cultural impact yet."
According to Gallagher, lan-
guage barriers may also be a fac-
tor slowing down China's cultural
influence.
"The culture is closely tied
with the language," she said. "If
you don't have the language abil-
ity, it's that much harder for the
culture tobe shared."

Couillard expressed similar
sentiments about the spread of
Chinese hip hop.
"It's not something that could
be exported at this point," Couil-
lard said. "At least right now, it's
not something that anyone out-
side of China could appreciate,
because it's so specialized."
Couillard pointed out that Chi-
nese hip hop often talks about
things that wouldn't necessarily
be popular in the U.S.
"One of the most popular hip-
hop songs in China is about some
guy cussing out his teacher,"
Couillard said. "It's not about the
song being good musically, but it's
just a cultural thing that everyone
there hates their teachers so they
can identify with it. But unless
you speak Chinese, it's impossible
for you to relate to that song."
But for those who can relate
to it, hip hop is a big part of the
underground Chinese culture,
and its presence has the power
to gain momentum in the future,
with dedication from artists like
Young Kin.
"The future can look really
good if we work hard," Hwang
said. "We can take this really far.?

I tis atruth universally
acknowledged, that any
adaptation of Jane Austen's
timeless classic "Pride and Prej-
udice" will be met with either
hostility or
obsession,
but will most
definitely
grab the
fanatic atten-
tion of Aus-
ten disciples.
And it will LEAH
most likely BURGIN
make money.
Most
recently, "Pride and Prejudice"
entered my life through a staged
romantic comedy adaptation my
family saw over spring break
at the Cincinnati Shakespeare
Company. While I thoroughly
enjoyed parts of the show, I
thought it was miscast and the
characters reduced to annoying
shells of their most recognizable
traits. Elizabeth was confident
and witty, but ina "shut up, no
one wants to listen to you" way,
and Darcy was reserved and bit-
ter, but to the point of seeming
constipated.
Despite my criticism for the
adaptation, people seemed to
go gaga for it. Not only was the
show's run extended, but each
performance sold out - an
unprecedented event for such
a small theater with a niche
audience. This is the power of
"Pride and Prejudice" - even
a mediocre performance of the
beloved story can draw in more
people and revenue than Shake-
speare's greatest masterpieces.
How can this be? Why i. "Pride
and Prejudice" so prone to
adaptations that keep Austen's
fan base spellbound?
On the "Pride and Preju-
dice" Wikipedia page, there's
an entire section devoted to -
adaptations, ranging from the
2005 film with Kiera Knight-
ley as Elizabeth Bennet to
"Pride and Prejudice and
ombies" - the 2009 novel
that adds the living dead to the
social circle of 19th-century
England. Coin Firth stars in
both the classic six-hour BBC
made-for-TV miniseries and
the clever rom-com adaptation
"Bridget Jones's Diary." Dozens
of books start where Austen
left off, imagining the lives of
the beloved characters post-
last page, or telling the story
from Mr. Darcy's point of view.
Another BBC miniseries, "Lost
in Austen," features a modern
30-something (obsessed with
"Pride and Prejudice") who
finds a portal in her bathroom
directly leading her to the attic
in the Bennet house. She swaps
places with Elizabeth and
everything goes crazy. There is
also Sir Elton John's rumored
film adaptation "Pride and
Predator" which adds an alien
invasion to the rolling farmland
of Longbourne.
A sense of timelessness isn't
the only reason "Pride and
Prejudice" has stayed in the
public eye and creative mind
for all these years - the book
is also boundless. There seems
to be no tweak too bizarre for
the fans. You could place the
Bennet sisters at the bottom of
the sea, with shell bras and fish
fins, and I bet people would lap

it up. It's already been made
into a musical and a Bollywood
film, but where is the Disney
version, complete with talking
animals and an Alan Menken
soundtrack?
I'm sure that, for some, these
adaptations are blasphemous

taints on the holyground upon
which the sacred work of fiction
sits. Others may be amused by
these new spins, but uncompro-
misingly claim that the book
will always be better than any
variation. And for a lot of girls
in my high school, it was the
idea of a sexy, misunderstood
Mr. Darcy - played by either
the simultaneously regal and 4
adorable Firth or the much
rawer and emotional Matthew
Macfadyen - that kept the
pages turning and the obsession
ignited.
But the universally acknowl-
edged truth remains that if you
love "Pride and Prejudice," any
mention of it in a contemporary
context is going to set your
heart pounding. My grandma
and aunt have a theory: It's the
brilliance of Austen's writing,
her ability to make the inane
drama of an average fictional
family seem relatable to readers
- but also magically illusive -
that captures our attention and
that of the adapters who offer
their own spin on the Bennets.
Austen (probably not intention-
ally) balances between identi-
fiable characters and enough
wiggle room for adaptations to
be born.
As a self-proclaimed Austen
fan, I believe that my kind and 4
I swarm to adaptations because
they give us something new
to talk about, swoon over or
laugh at. The novel isn't novel
anymore - it was written over
200 years ago. Everything that
can be said about the original
has been said. The only nov-
elty comes with adaptations -
sometimes the more ridiculous,
the better.
From zombies
to Colin Firth,
'Pride' takes
many forms.
It's like Shakespeare. Con-
temporary casts are strivingto
find new lenses through which
to perform classics like "Ham-
let" or "Romeo and Juliet."
Like adaptations of "Pride and
Prejudice," these interpreta-
tions range from interesting
- like switching gender roles
- to ridiculous, like having the
characters bounce around on
jazzercise balls.
And, for me, the adaptations
of "Pride and Prejudice" repre-
sent something more important.
Jane Austen is abridge between
the generations of women in my
family. Maybe my grandmoth-
ers, aunts, and mother won't
appreciate "Pride and Prejudice
and Zombies" - which, as con-
noisseurs of the weird, my sister
and I find hilarious - but we
all went to see the somewhat-
biographic "Becoming Jane"
together in theaters and spent
quality time with each other.
While I can't begin to fully
understand why adaptations of 0
"Pride and Prejudice" continue
to captivate an audience that
changes with each passing gen-
eration, I can hope to be con-
tinually amused by adaptations

of "Pride and Prejudice" - I'm
looking at you Elton John - and
to keep sharing the Jane Austen
experience with my family.
Burgin is tolerable, but not
handsome enough to tempt. To
affirm, e-mail irburgin@umich.edu.

ALBUM REVIEW
Ebert's magnetic solo release

By JULIA SMITH-EPPSTEINER
DatlyArts Writer
Most famous as his alter ego
in the L.A. hippie clan Edward
Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros,
Alexander Ebert
changes it up by
letting listeners
inonhis childish Alexander
subconscious.
This vulnerabil-
ity is invigorat- Alexander
ed throughout
the ten truthful Community
tracks of Alex-
ander. And the cover art of Ebert
as a tot - in his striped onesie
and floppy sunhat - only further
enhances this enchanting musical
persona.
The bearded artist taught him-
self to play the violin sitting in
his living room and has said that
his solo album is "about trying to
be the physical representation of
(his) spirit, whatever the hell that
is, whatever the heaven that is. It's
about what it means to wake up
and be really alive and embrace
the three dimensional world."
"Let's Win" is an auditory rain-
bow from the '70s that layers the

whim
beats
and
may 1
three
So
allow
ed so
previ
away
"My
skin,
deter
exhai
en all
soul i
deliv'
outsi:
Al
Al
ander
"Trut
spirit
sion -
throa
get ti

sical colors of the drum- secrets /All my enemies are turn-
panting, altered vocals ing into my teachers." He taps into
organ - showing that Ebert the Tibetan Buddhist idea of lov-
be embracing more than just ing one's enemy for the patience
dimensions. theyteach.
ngs like "Awake My Body" These palpable lyrics continue
Ebert to become a respect- to evolve throughout the track
lo artist, separate from his ("You're darkness is shining, my
ous work. He does not shy darkness is shining"), elevating
from any of his senses - "Truth" to a level of meditation.
body, my toes, my heart, my Not only does this song have the
my nose," he sings. He is quiet fire of focus, but it also bangs
mined - when alow point of up against Ebert's old interest in
ustion is reached - to awak- rap from the darker days of his
1 of his cells and manifest his ill-fated hip-hop career with the
.n the tapping, whistling and group Ima Robot.
erance of sound to the world The only real lackluster
de of himself. endeavor is the concluding track,
"Let's Make a Deal to Not Make
a Deal." The sounds of trotting
exander Ebert horses and "la-de-de-da" is not up
to par with the rest of Alexander.
is no zero. But ignoring the ultimate track,
Ebert manages to further the pos-
itive charge with slower tracks,
"Old Friend" and Glimpses." He
true representative of Alex- croons puzzling but pleasurable
is the pre-released song lyrics above Eastern-inspired
th," complete with lyrics of instrumentation. In "Glimps-
uality and naked expres- es," Ebert is a soul-wrenching,
- "Tilt my chin back, slit my scratchy-voiced Bob Dylan crying
t / Take a bath in my blood, to his mama about the bullshit of
o know me / All out of my the world. "Old Friend" rises with
harmonica and the words: "My
heart is confetti."
Also reminiscent of Dylan,
but with a more sanguine
sound, are the satisfying tracks
"Bad Bad Love" and "In The

. r c Y.+CT

cOURTESY oF COMMUNITY
Twilight." Both scream vintage
summertime.
Echoing his live performances,
Alexander starts out "A Million
Years" in an experimental man-
ner. As he repeatedly exhales
and pants, it's easy to imagine
him dancing low to the ground in
the recording studio, shaking his
hands to his own breath, messy
bun on top of his head.
The timing of Alexander is
much appreciated as it success-
fully brings Ebert down to earth
after the Magnetic Zeros com-
moditized (in Ford Fiesta and
NFL commercials) the indie-folk
feat of an album, Up From Below.
Is this money-grab necessary to
support their 11-person band trav-
eling the world? Hopefully they
don't ditch the rattling hippie
minivan and invest in a limo.
It's likely that Ebert won't ever
let it get that farI
a dying Marine limp out in front
of his enemy; scream his name,
rank and serial number into the
air; and blow himself up along
with his enemy so that the rest
of his friends can escape, then
there's something wrong with
you.
But, of course, who knows if
the filmmakers had anything
but box office numbers on their
minds when they created this
story? Who knows what they
think about America, or our
country's ability to overcome
seemingly insurmountable
odds? All they made was a film
in which America is once again
equated with "good." It's nice to
know that there are still people
who think that's possible.

' ' I 2011 ,
Thursday, March 17th
8:00-9:50 PM
CE SKATING TRIVIA PRIZES MUSIC
Wear green & visit the Yost facebook
page to get a Free Skate Rental coupon!
www.umich.edu/yost

BATTLE
From Page 7A
film with basically the same plot,
message and purpose. However,
if "Independence Day" was sup-
posed to direct our sentimental
nationalism toward the accom-
plishments of the heroes we
immortalize through holidays,
"Battle: Los Angeles" is meant
to show us that, even though
the cast may be young, inexpe-
rienced and directionless, there
is as much hope for the future of
our nation as there's ever been.
And, no matter what you
think about America, or Amer-
ica's standing in the world, if
you don't cheer after watching
4

4

"Umm, excuse me? Camo is so in right now."

4+

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