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December 06, 2013 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-12-06

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Friday, December 6, 2013 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Walker got his first big break in 1998's "Pleasantville."
In remembrance
* of Paul Walker

Meow, am I riiigght?
World of hip hop moves
to broaden horizons

'Fast and Furious'
actor found dead
after car crash
Daily B-Side Editor
There's something to be
said about "normality." Is it a
picket fence, closely surround-
ing the red brick houses that
float unnoticed on islands of
unkempt summer grass? Is it
those tired winter afternoons
spent racing down miounds
of snow next to the neighbor-
hood cul-de-sac? Or maybe the
crinkled ticket stubs you find in
your pockets after a night at the
movies. No one really knows.
But we all have ideas of what we
think - or Want - it to mean.
Paul Walker, who died in a
car crash last Saturday, saw nor-
mality in his daughter, Meadow.
She was unplanned, the first
taste of consequence in a life
of irrelevant one-night stands
and detached infidelities. It was
before his first real break in
Hollywood, before he became
the unassuming man who cat-
egorized his career with the
words, "I thought I'd make one
movie and be done, but I kept
working and now I'm 38 and
don't know what the fuck hap-
pened. That's it in a nutshell."
Initially, Walker turned away
from his responsibilities. He
chipped in financially, mailing
in a regular stream of checks
to his former girlfriend to make
sure Meadow wouldn't be in
need of the things he lacked
growing up, but he was never
there himself. He focused on
* his career, clinging to that tran-
sient lifestyle, "living out of
bags" and unable, even, to call
anywhere "home" until he was
Things changed in 2011.
Nearly 40, Walker did what he'd
never considered before: He
moved in with his daughter. It
was a new challenge - the one
he felt he had spent his entire
adulthood working toward, and
for once, he was OK with being
grounded by the permanence.
It's a progression in personal-
ity peculiarly suggestive of the
franchise that made Walker a
household name. The roaring
cars, plumes of nitrous exhaust
and vibrant, over-the-top story-
* lines sold the tickets, but "Fast
and Furious" 's beating heart
was always family - the brief
reaffirmation of brotherhood
that came with looking out the
passenger window and being
able to lock eyes with people
4 who you knew would lie down
in traffic to protect you.
As the engines hummed
beneath the weight of those
neon-soaked nights, Brian
O'Conner became the closest
thing a big-budgeted, "dumb"

summer extravaganza could
afford to relatable dynamic-
ity. Dom was unmoving - a
monolithic dedication to honor,
paternalistically guiding how
the story unfolded, but it was
Walker's easy blue eyes and
patent accessibility that let the
films distance themselves from
It wasn't that we could never
tell what he'd do next - every
character in the "Fast and Furi-
ous" universe except, perhaps,
Hobbs, is a beacon of predict-
ability - it's just that he made
it seem normal. No matter how
cheesy or overblown the lines
may have looked on paper, he
spoke them with an odd sto-
icism ringing of the endurance
that comes hand-in-hand with
experience. There was a visible
calmness in that experience, a
calmness that cut through the
bombastically fiery explosions
and unnecessarily loud plot
twists at every turn.
Yet, it's intriguing to note
how it wasn't always that way.
"The Fast and the Furious,"
the first film in the franchise,
features an obviously young-
er Walker whose character
approaches his surroundings
with a high-pitched innocence
that's invisible in the later
installments. The lines aren't
much different; still short,
plain, to-the-point statements
of fact that never once approach
the flowery monologues about
the meaning of life and fam-
ily we see Vin Diesel spewing
every 30 minutes.

But in those first two films,
hearing Walker's delivery is like
being hit by the new-car smell
of a Mustang you just drove off
the lot. The persistent traces of
potential are there, but what
you remember are the swerv-
ing fluctuations in emotion
that Walker dampens by the
time "Fast 5" and "Fast 6" roll
In that change, there's the
unavoidable recognition that,
like his character, he's finally at
peace with the life he's chosen
for himself. Each movie is still
arace, the exaggerated depic-
tion of a struggle to find some
trace of stability in life. But
O'Conner's journey is our own.
He's fighting to make a place for
himself in a world completely
defined by the finish line.
And in that last scene of "Fast
6," sitting around a table of food
with the people he calls his
closest friends, we get an idea
of what that means. He never
planned on being a family man.
It just happened. He chose the
people he let into his world, and
in doing so, found the calmness
he'd spent an entire lifetime
struggling to accept. The jok-
ing blue eyes and smirking grin
didn't look out of place any-
more. They had endured.
. O'Conner, like Walker, found
meaning. It doesn't really mat-
ter what it was - skids of
burned tire marks stretched
across the expressway or a
daughter he could finally call
his own. Because it was his. His

DailyArts Writer
Today, it seems like anyone
can record a few verses in his or
her spare time, upload them to
YouTube and dub themselves a
"rapper." Some people love this;
some don't. Some retain tradi-
tional standards that newcomers
must meet in order to be recog-
nized as rappers, while others
would describe Miley's verse on
"23" as rap - because, well, the
lines rhyme, she's talking about
Jordans and she mentioned a
'90s rap group (shout-out to
Naughty by Nature), and isn't
that enough?
Well, to each his own. But
here's what I think.
I think that rap expanding its
target demographics and reach-
ing more people in new ways
with new sounds and new con-
ceptsisdope and natural.I'mnot
a supporter of some newcomers,
though, who (and maybe not
intentionally) suck the artistry
out of the art, almost making a
mockery out of it. I realize that,
right now, hip hop's presence
outshines other types of music;
everyone wants to throw up the

roc be
on the
for CL
tion of
they u
club I'
rant, 1
my b

cause we're all bad bitches think of it as a belated gift). Her
inside - I know this. name is Kitty (used to be Kitty
t it starts to feel like a per- Pryde), a 21-year-old Daytona
attack, an invasion, for Beach artist whose music blew
who want nothing more up about two years ago. Remem-
hristmas than a resurrec- ber "OK Cupid," or "Orion's
f the golden age of hip hop. Belt" - that song with Riff Raff?
people become extra sen- And maybe I shouldn't have
when they discover new revealed that she did a song with
s who don't sound like what Riff Raff, but don't let me lose
sually approve of and they you now. Danny Brown is a huge
te quick to dismiss them, fan of hers if that helps, because
understandable reasons it should.
use if I hear one more song Many of us can't directly
poppin' champagne in the relate to trap music. We spend
m gonna pop... sorry). more time on YouTube than on
the corner, and we "grew up on
the shy side, the free Wi-Fi side,"
* where stayin' alive wasn't really
ty is not your a concern. This is Kitty. And she
pical rapper may not be rapping about regu-
a Pe larly rapped-about topics, but
it give her a the thing is, she's still keeping it
real. She's aware that her pres-
chance. ence may be controversial and
has even referred to herself as
the white girl ruining rap, but
she has bars for days.
feel you to the highest On "R.R.E.A.", Kitty reveals
e, hip-hop heads, and I that she's just "a little Nipsey
you believe me after this Hussle plus a little pixie dust,"
because there is a favor I my favorite description of her.
ask of you all (plus it was I'll stop rambling now and let
irthday last Monday, so you decide for yourself.

E-mail arts@
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Walker leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter.

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