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November 12, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-12

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November.12, 2013 - 5

How I learned to stop
worrying and love rap

How do you write "ridiculous" in binary?
burns then fizzles

To be blunt about it, I
never thought I would
be a fan of rap, hip hop
or anything in between. I have a
very specific memory of a middle-
school Elliot
Alpern par-
ticipating in
a rap vs.rock
in the midst of
a "rock 'n' roll
history" class. ELLIOT
doesn't take
any musical
skill!" shouted a friend, and, at the
time, I was sure I agreed. As the
son of a rock aficionado - and,
likewise, ageneral rap-music
shunner - I was completely
immersed in my world of guitar
licks and drum solos. To me, and
to the other rock champions on
my side, hip hop was simply talk-
ing over a beat. Yes, I was aware
of the lyrical complexities, but you
can find that kind of intricacy in
any genre. And I still believe that
today - to sayotherwise, I think,
is to say you simply haven'theard
But everything changed when,
arriving attcollege, I downloaded
Kanye's The College Dropout on a
whim. I had begun to accept a few
rap hits, like "Jesus Walks"(look,
I know, I'm not quite a rap hipster)
- and so, it made sense to me to
investigate if there was anything
else worthwhile. A few days later,
and I was listeningto the album
from end to end.
It didn't stop with Kanye, and I
soon realized that I was growing
into something I never expected
from myself. I was mixing Dr. Dre
into my bouts of Foo Fighters, and
Kanye lyrics were swirling around
my head as much as any Black
Keys verse. For better or worse, I'd
become the personI was arguing
against all those years ago.
But, still, Iwasn't sure why I

"Get E
The be
it perce
some w
failed t
It to
of con
a recor
I'd hea
from f
"The n
and se
rap fat
piece c
I reme
me wh
truly A
on to d
own. B
is justr
only no
good ki
At it
more a
ingly h

y liked rap. I could go over American story. Sure, there
in High" a dozen times are rock-oriented tracks about
t being able to point out the tragedy of life in America,
suddenly appealing to me. about making ends meat or cold
at? Sure, it's cool, but was winters without a job. But can
rption-breaking? Did the any of them wax poetic on the
c style of lyricseget to me in daily warfare waged in Chicago
ray that rock had suddenly streets?
o do? And, look, I'm not saying
'ok me a few more years that it's the potential to tell
fused-but-grateful that specific storyline that
'p appreciation before makes rap such a great genre.
rd dropped that made But, rather, it's rap's potential
hing oh so much clearer. to maintain such a deep, com-
ird whispers about it plex storyline, all told within
riends and writers, the framework of a catchy,
e the fact that I didn't danceable song, that suddenly
ize the artist's name. made it so appealing.
iew Kendrick Lamar That, too, helped to sway my
leaked!" they cooed, opinion. I'd never been into the
eing my own lack of "dancier" songs, usually relying
miliarity, I took it upon on catchy riffs for all my moving
to explore this new melodies, but as my time in college
tf material. progressed, it became impossible
to ignore that influence of "party"
songs. Not that I was looking for
llg ro o t one of those "Pull up, DRANK"
LIege DrIopyo L tracks everywhere I went, but
all it took. simply that I suddenly was able to
appreciate when the beats were
designed to appeal to a dance floor
full of fun-seeking music-lovers.
rything fell into place. I still shy away from a decent
mber once, in a drums amount of rap. Sometimes, it
when my teacher asked seems to me that a song is made
at I thought was the solely for the basis of "making
merican genre of music. a rap song," instead of making
try?" I offered. It was a music. You can probably rec-
guess, sure, and he went ognize those too - tracks that
escribe how no other emphasize all of the typical fare
y could claim jazz as their (booze, drugs, money, women)
3ut I'd argue, now, that rap over a simple beat with a slight
as American as jazz - you twist. But you can also tell when
eed one listen-through of a hip-hop track actuallytriesto
id, m.A.A.d city to realize excel as a composition, even if the
instruments themselves are made
:s heart, Kendrick's sopho- up of synthesizers and electric
lbum tells the American drumsets. And, even though I still
a diatribe against the listen to my fare share of rock hits,
life that millions of poor you can officially count me as a
minorities are forced into convert to rap music.

Pop star takes on
too many sounds on
latest effort
f Daily Arts Writer
Now, art .and pop culture can
meet.But, is this third studio album
a mixed basket tailored to all lis-
tening needs, or
a jumbled set of B
stylistic inco-
herency? ART- ARTPOP
POP ties the
Top-40 form of LadyGaga
The Fame to the Interscope
of Born This
Way, depicting Gaga in her most,
prevalent musical insanity while
shuffling to her most reductive
radio-friendly styles shortly after.
Production team announce-
ments garnered the most antici-
pation for this record, despite a
final farewell to Gaga's established
right-hand man, RedOne. DJ
White Shadow seemingly struck
a chord with the pop performer's
tastes on Born This Way, seeing as
he has reappeared alongside the
long-awaited (and much under-
rated) producer Zedd.
Organized chaos is the game

Zedd plays, and his productions that seems as if it fell onto Gaga's
for ARTPOP detonate in a bizarre album from a 2 Chainz record. DJ
electronic bang, particularly on White Shadow fell back to circa
the record's lead track, "Aura." 2008-Gaga for ARTPOP's second
This Middle East-characterized single, "Do What U Want," which
piece releases its tension-built cho- precedes the album's title track,
rus with an assortment of dirty "Artpop"- a dissonant piece with
synths, pops, kicks and ghastly an airy minimalism relative to
vocalizing. other tracks. The futuristic vibe of
Zedd's handiwork is messy on "Artpop," the retro-Gaga styling of
occasion, but is by far the most "Do What U Want" and the obnox-
immaculate sound on the record ious hip-hop outburst of "Jewels n'
- speaking for ARTPOP's abstract Drugs" is too much genre variance
tracks. The extraterrestrial intro to inhale, even for a character like.
of "G.U.Y." seamlessly partners Lady Gaga.
with the talk-sing build of the ARTPOP aims to please a few
chorus and the (once again) eerie too many people - including
vocalizing that wanders behind Gaga herself - but still retains
the track. most of its artistic integrity. The
Other imaginative components record has its blatantly obvi-
of ARTPOP, however, dramatize ous written-for-charts tracks
tracks to more of an artistic implo- like "Do What U Want" and
sion than explosion. Fitting, given "Applause" - as did much of The
that "Swine" is the record's slop- Fame - but also has a captivat-
piest track, but Gaga could afford ing unpredictability (particu-
to familiarize herself with the larly with "Aura" and its sibling
term "moderation." The vocals songs) that doesn't appear to be
are staggered and shouted to near written for any demographic. A
incomprehension, and the backing strong third record, but given
melody is indistinguishable due to ARTPOP's strengths and vision,
its obnoxiously low-octave synth. Zedd would have been bet-
The album's divergences come ter suited as the album's lead
swiftly, inviting in some unpleas- producer over DJ White Shad-
ant stylistic abruptness. "Sexxx ow. White Shadow's influence
Dreams" - a characteristically becomes a tad monotonous, and
pop-heavy track - is pitted against lacks instrumentation as iconic
"Jewels n' Drugs" - a hip-hop song as that of Zedd.

ne, it has become increas-
ard to argue that rock
ever tell such a veritably

Alpern is nolonger yelling at
rap lovers. To congratulate him,
e-mail ealpern@umich.edu.

'Nebraska' cast talks characters

Lost' rides on Redford

Daily Arts Writer
The old man and the sea against
him. Man in his most primitive
form. An experienced actor in a
director's soph-
omore experi- -
mental film.
Despite such All is Lost
refreshing ver-
satility, "All Is At Rave
Lost" draws the and State
solitary portrait i
Wi ofm

Luscious locks.

of a ma:
age. TI
of the
tide rec
sails A
film er
gle wit


unsga e
tn and his He was simply there on his boat,
me voy- the Virginia Jean, weathering the
hough it may be varied and elements, manning the helm -
atory, the different aspects becoming as tough and rugged as
film's radical storytelling the ocean swells that pummel him.
tely come together with in his second directorial effort,
ful grace. And when the J.C. Chandor ("Margin Call") opts
cedes, the wind dies and the to tell his story through careful
lacken, the essence of the film techniques and environmental
merges: Man and his strug- factors rather than through dia-
h the deepblue. logue and personal drama. Instead
of guiding Redford's character, he
uses free-moving camera work to
S v rfollow him through his task. We
Mr~an versus travel with him into the water,
the sea. under the deck, into a life raft and
to the top of the mast. We wake up
with him at the beginning of the
movie when a steel shipping con-
hard to imagine anyone but tainer slams into the side of the
Redford ("The Company boat. We plunge into the water with
eep") filling such a role. As him when an onslaught of tower-
ily cast member, he bears ing waves hurls him from the deck.
e responsibility of breaking Chandor permits us to explore
tural monotony of the plot's every corner of the yacht, revealing
alistic approach. With little problems as they come, allowing us
ue and no human interac- to think critically along with Red-
edford's character is left to ford's character about how to sur-
ith oblivion alone in silence. vive and stayafloat.
kstory was provided for his The film's greatest challenge
ter, no surrounding circum- perhaps is finding ways to manage
no motive, not even a name. the only other major cast member:

the ocean. From the first minute
to the last, the ocean forces itself
upon the ship - leaking through
cracks, sloshing foam on the deck,
surging upward, downward, side-
ways in attempt to upheave the
ship and swallow it whole. And
while the unpredictable nature
of the sea is indeed imminent
and unavoidable, its constant
aggressiveness throughout the
film (accentuated only by the lack
of other major players) eventu-
ally feels contrived. Despite his
impressive, if not superhuman,
effort to beat the odds, Redford's
character can't sway the momen-
tum even a little.
But this one-sided struggle
makes you root for the character.
Odysseus had his cunning; Aeneas
had his piety; Achilles his martial
ability. Redford's character has
his resourcefulness - his inex-
tinguishable ache and instinct for
survival. And though everything
that could go wrong did go wrong,
though his resourcefulness could
only keep him going until the next
immense challenge set him back,
Redford's character showed the
man could still be a hero.

Daily Arts Writer
It's immediately clear that
"Nebraska,"Alexander Payne'slat-
est film, holds a special place inthe
hearts of its main cast.
As part of the "New York Film
Critics Series," Bruce Dern, June
Squibb and Will Forte sat down
with Rolling Stone critic Peter
Travers to discuss the film and
their roles in it. The event took
place in New York, and wasbroad-
cast live and screened for audi-
ences in the Michigan Theater.
Similar events will be available in
the future at the Michigan The-
The actors spoke on a number of
topics in the 40-minute interview,
ranging from the casting process,
to the acting process, to their
future plans. Though they fielded
a variety of questions from Travers
and an online Twitter audience,
the personal importance of the
film was a persistent theme in each
of their answers.
"Of the three roles I've played
in my career that are personal to
me, this one is the most personal,"
Dern said.
Dern plays Woody Grant, a
delusional and stubborn old man
who believes that he is entitled to
a million dollars and forces his son,
played by Will Forte, to travel with
him from Montana to Nebraska
to help claim his prize. Though
Dern acknowledged that he bears
little resemblance to the charac-
ter on the surface, he said that he
found commonality in his charac-
ter's detachment and subsequent
estrangement from family.
Grant's detachment stands out
especially since his family mem-
bers are so concerned about his
mental and physical health. June
Squibb plays Dern's hardy wife,
who nurses a deep love for him
despite her frustrations at his
increasing inability to cope with
reality. Even she was emphatic in
noting how close her character hit
"When I read the script, I knew

who thi
me in h
ter kno
than dr
film, he
how he
ing toI
type an
me, bec
he rece
that Pay
the role,
to prove
their ch
one wor
a family
they we
how th
know e
house fr
was just
closer tc
film is s
ca, andi
film hat
that au

s woman is. There's a lot of well, formed an integral part of the
er," Squibb said. supporting cast. She said that the
'een these two established film had increased her respect for
it actors sat Will Forte, bet- the state of Nebraska and the Mid-
wn for his comedic chops westingeneral.
amatic acting. However, in Dern said that the film was
case, the contrast between Payne's tribute to the growth and
'and his character, and his history oftheheartland ofAmerica.
inexperience in such a "I admire the, monumental
lps transform it into a per- courage of those people staying
ndmark. Fortetalked about and working on the land that their
ultimately found it liberat- ancestors came to in a covered
play a different character wagon. They don't leave because
d how much he valued this they're honored to carry on tradi-
was a different role for When asked about his best
ause this required a more moments on set, Forte referred to
d performance," Fortesaid. the time that he spent with Dern
attributed his success in between takes, in whichthey spoke
the character to the help about Alfred Hitchcock and John
ived from Dern as well as Wayne, among many other things.
skill as a director. All three "The experience of shooting in
were conscious of the trust the car forthe trip to Nebraska was
'ne placed in them. amazing. Itis somethingthat Iwill
ander (Payne) knows you're treasure forever," Forte said.
Dern said. "You don't have "Bruce provided with me patient
anything." words of encouragement and made
me feel at ease,"he said.
Dern reciprocated Forte's rever-
ence in his constant praise ofForte.
l-star actors "Will is an actor with a tremen-
cuss fmily- dons amount of courage," he said.
According to Dern, being coura-
iven dram a. geous was important for Forte if he
was to subdue his affinity for com-
edy for "the benefit ofthe movie."
The comfortable chemistry
movie went beyond the between the actors was evident
ce that the actors felt with when Squibb was asked who was
aracters - it brought every- the "biggest pain in the ass" on set
-king on the film together as between the other two actors. She
. The cast talked about how immediately pointed to Dern in
nt on road trips in the week jest, while remarkingthat Forte is a
shooting commenced and very affectionate person.
ey used that time to get to The interview closed with Trav-
ach other. ers asking the actors to choose the
ry single day, I felt I was scene inthe filmthatpersonally res-
up and going to somebody's onated the most with them. Unsur-
om the crew," Dern said. "It prisingly, the cast picked various
fun." intimate moments that stressed the
film also brought the actors importance of family ties. Dern said
o the Midwest. Much of the that ultimately, family provides you
et in the heartland of Ameri- with the belief and confidence you
ts cast membersstressed the need to live your dreams.
ince that the location of the "God dammit, you can pull
d to them. Squibb informed them off if you work hard enough
dience that local farmers, at it!" he exclaimed, as the audi-
the cast got to know very ence applauded.

You Ke
the on
the sol
the nat
tion, R
deal w
No bac

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