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April 03, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-04-03

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 5

Thm ihgnDiy-mciadilcmTedy pi ,21

The tension in disco
keeps us moving

From Minaj's audition tape for 'The Muppets.'
M in a briso
' njbnsRoman Reloaded'

I've always admired disco for
its flexibility. Tethered by
the birthmark tempo of 4/4
- the austere canvas upon which
it lives, moves and has its being
- disco tells
stories. In
the hands of
its most leg-
endary DJs,
the music
slick segues
for sprawling JOE
narratives, DIMUZIO
high drama -
and grand-
standing camp. Larry Levan,
David Mancuso, Daniele Baldelli
and countless other DJs across
the world crafted - through a
performative, ritualistic combi-
nation of physical space, sound
and atmosphere - weekly
expeditions into lush fantasias
of physiological catharsis, God-
forbidding they be coherent,
cohesive or direct.
The best disco songs revel in
the tension between chaos and
order. Maceo Parker called disco
"Funk with a bow-tie," making a
racial statement (and effectively
defining the vocation of Chic),
but unintentionally offering a
more valuable characterization of
the genre. Where funk's muscle
lies in its ability tofunk - i.e.
stink, jiggle, loose and enact its
own continuum - disco took
the revelatory pulse of funk and
re-posited it as an international
salmagundi. Afro-Cuban poly-
rhythms, studio orchestras,
bomb-ass bass, high-flyin' flutes,
glac, oscillatingsynthesizers ...
all barely reined in by the unify-

ing bea
ers fro
all in t
sions o
strut a
that rh
songs t
for ma
and trt
for cor
with e
ups ov
was aE
could s

at. Airy waifs, soul-belters, urbane American cheese.
ng automatons, rock sing- From the opulentyearn-
m hell - disco subsumed ing of "Bourgie," I'd turn to
he infinitesimal subver- Cerrone's "Give Me Love," a
f the kick drum, snare French silk-shirted romp over
nd cymbal shuffle. It hits, Afro-Cuban bongos, mantric
g to quit. sleave (in which the song's title
it's that beat, thatgroove, languishes between a question
ythm that carries the and a demand) and gut-churning
a, giving the most disparate bass. And to answer the demand,
heir bond and potential Tom Moulton's lustrous Philly
nipulation, for queering Soul stomping mix of Double
ansformation in collage, Exposure's "My Love is Free"
ruption and communion fits the bill, promising devotion
ach other. From 12-minute and granting you a purgative
breakdowns to gospel rave- breakdown to dance and return
er 64-tracked polyphonic the favor.
strokes ... disco, at its best, Lest we get carried away,
bottomless toolbox you Linda Clifford's "Runaway Love"
weat and sing along with. can restrain us. It's spare diva-
gospel with Linda cast as the
scorned lover, the winded dancer,
the bummed and neglected lover
who has had enough. "Stop mes-
stories sin' with my heart if you don't
mean it!" she cries, left with her
"tears, heartaches and devo-
tions," letting us call and respond
ford & Simpson's "Bourgie with the Jones Girls backing her
ie" is a prime example of up, playing Greek Chorus to our
characteristic friction. It tragedy.
taple of Larry Levan, the We can spin the story for
I DJ of NYC's fabled Para- hours, decades and beyond. The
arage (a name that fittingly best DJs still do it, crafting some-
osed blind idealism with thing greater than atmosphere
my, the seedy, the human) and mood, stirring their audi-
i uncharacteristic instru- ence's feet and emotions - sober
I track for the husband- or otherwise. And in the creative,
ife duo that penned so tumultuous, globe-trotting olio
of Motown's lithe domestic of this music, disco or otherwise,
s. The title, truncating is a tapestry of what movesus -
geoisie" for boo-zjhee, and place to place, grief to-ebullience,
epeating it twice, tells you life to death.


Nicki balances pop
and rap on latest
Daily Arts Writer
Nicki Minaj is the biggest hyp-
ocrite and conformist the music
industry has seen in years. She
raps about how
'cause (she's)
still hood,
Hollywood Nicki Minaj
couldn't change
(her)." Wrong. Pink Friday:
Once you Roman
realize RedOne Reloaded
nearly a third Young Money
of her newest
album and two other songs were
produced by Dr. Luke, too many
other pop artists come to mind.
Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and
Katy Perry are just a few of the
acts who abuse the popularity
of these writer-producers to no
end - and clearly it works out for
Promotion for this album
began with a rocky start, to say
the least. The first song released
to promote the album, "Roman In
Moscow," doesn't even appear on

the official track list (coinciden-
tally, it wasn't very popular).
The second attempt to build
up the album, "Stupid Hoe," was
a song and video with negative
feedback rivaled only by Rebecca
Black herself. This cleverly titled
masterpiece left many fans with
doubts regarding the quality of
the upcoming album. And let's
not even discuss that atrocious
excuse for a Grammy perfor-
Even with all this being said,
this album is one of the best
albums that has been released
this year, if not the past few
years. It incorporates everything:
the rap, the pop, the dubstep, the
collaborations with other famous
artists and the image.
Minaj's embarrassingly silly
alter ego actually does the album
a lot of favors. Its rap-heavy half
pleases all the Young Money fans,
while the pop-heavy half is music
to the ears of the electronic main-
stream crowd.
And luckily for Minaj, RedOne
seems to have put a great deal
of effort toward incorporating a
new dubstep sound into his pro-
duction, not previously typical of
his work. Given the lasting suc-
cess of the album's first official
single, "Starships," this touch
appears to be working.

In songs like "Automatic," the
up-tempo melodic catchiness
can't be denied - complemented
with a creative hint of dubstep
like most other tracks on this half
of the album - but the presence
of the artist leaves little to be
desired. The nearly complete lack
of rap in the song might be cross-
ing a little too far into pop terri-
tory for Minaj.
Logically speaking, the album
should be a two-disk record with
one side containing the nutcase
personality and the other con-
taining the conformist, but Minaj
would be under heavy fire for
pulling an IAm...Sasha Fierce.
Speaking of album titles, this
is another aspect of the work that
is a tad confusing. Understand-
ably, rappers enjoy having some
chronology to their albums (e.g.
The Carter albums), but Pink Fri-
day: Roman Reloaded sounds like
a rereleased version of Minaj's
debut album Pink Friday. And
with good reason, seeing as that's
what Rihanna's Good Girl Gone
Bad:Reloaded was.
Up until the release of "Star-
ships," Nicki Minaj has continu-
ally made a fool of herself and a
fool of her work. With any luck, a
few spoiled tracks in combination
with Minaj's antics won't stop the
album from shining through.

was a s
dise G-
the gri
and an
coyly r
has pla
tral sw

hing you need to know. It
aintive piano and a slippery
td at odds with its orches-
vells and sweeps. Pure,

Dimuzio is practicing his
John Travolta moves. To join,
e-mail shonenjo@umich.edu.

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