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April 18, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-18

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6 - Friday, April 18, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6 - Friday, April 18, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Young Merlin.
'Jinn' actor talks A2

Local director
Ahmad draws on
Middle Eastern
mythology
By OMAR MAHMOOD
For the Daily
"In the Beginning, Three
were Created ... Man, made of
Clay. Angels, made of Light. And
a Third... made of Fire."
There could hardly be a more
thrilling opening to a film.
"Jinn," directed by Ajmal 'AJ'
Zaheer Ahmad ("It's a Mis-
match") and filmed in Ann
Arbor, centers around The Jinn,
a mysterious race which has
their origins in the depths of
Arabian folklore. Remarkably,
though, says Ahmad, no one has
yet made a Hollywood movie
about this race.
"Jinn" was filmed and pro-
duced totally in Michigan.
Shawn Walter (Dominic Rains,
"Captain America: The Winter
Soldier") is a sports car design-
er who lives in Ann Arbor with
his wife Jasmine (Serena Swan,
"Cousins"). They have an idyllic
life, a home that is far too clean
and well-kept, and a perfectly
happy young mariage together,.
Then all of a sudden a mysterious
birthday present shows up for
Shawn with a 25-year-old tape of
his father, who died when Shawn
was a toddler. Terrible things
are going to start happening to

Shawn, and he must seek out his
friends and fight back against
the forces that seek to destroy
him. It is in his blood.
This was the first major star-
ring role for the striking young
Rains and on the red carpet at
the Detroit Institute of Arts pre-
miere, he said that his work with
Ahmad was a "match made in
heaven."
There was little more telling
than when the audience burst
into applause as the screen
opened up to Shawn's footsteps
into the Law Quad, and the titles
announced 'Ann Arbor, MI.'
Rains was taken with the cam-
pus.
"I didn't have as much time
as I would have liked to explore
Ann Arbor, because we were
always so busy filming, but I fell
in love with the people there,"
Rains said. "It's a beautiful
place."
To make this folklore under-
standable for a Western audi-
ence seems a formidable task
to undertake with any kind of
budget. But as Ahmad told the
audience on the red carpet at
the premiere, the budget that
the crew was working with was
about a hundredth of what might
be expected for a major Hol-
lywood production. And that
statistic is probably the most
impressive thing about the film.
"We've shown Hollywood
that it can be done right here in
Michigan," Ajmal said.
All of the filming, editing
and special effects were done in

Michigan. Moreover, Ann Arbor
played a major role in the movie.
The Law Quad was done more
than justice, and the sweeping
panoramas of deciduous Michi-
gan canopies and the Detroit
skyline were enough to get any
Wolverine's blood pumping. An
LSA sophomore, Lance Shipp,
was involved in the tuning of the
soundtrack to give the movie a
darker feel.
Ahmad is ambitious in the
scope of the plot, and grandi-
osity does seem a trademark
of his. Why couldn't the movie
have been about a tame family
curse? Why did it have to involve
a war between the races of man
and jinn? Did there have to be
a prophecy? The director had a
ready answer, hintingat a sequel.
"The hints of a larger scheme
were seeds planted in the first
movie," he said, "(and) are going
to set the stage for a much big-
ger battle between mankind and
jinn."
The overtlyreligious post-pre-
view talks at the DIA premiere
revolved around the bringing
together of humanity under a
common understanding of good
across faiths. Ahmad forcibly
tried to bring together the three
Abrahamic faiths, using the jinn
of all things as abinding knot.
But beyond the preachy feel, it
holds that Ahmad's Exxodus Pic-
tures has brought sorely needed
attention to the film industry in
Michigan, as well as enlighten-
ing audiences to lesser-known
folklore.

Ott JAM
Life is good.
Nas' 'Jl-mati c'turns 20

By JOSH FRAZIER
Daily Arts Writer
"Straight out the fuckin'
dungeons of rap," boasts
20-year-old Nasir Jones
on the introduction to "NY
State of Mind," the first full
song on his legendary debut
album. This week celebrates
the twentieth anniversary
of those famous words, as
Illmatic, the greatest rap
album ever made, turns two
decades old. Its legacy is still
felt today.
Nas, now a hip-hop legend,
has had a complicated career
full of missteps, but there
is no denying the impact of
his debut album. Illmatic
introduced hip-hop to a
charismatic young New
York rapper who would soon
become a worldwide star on
the strength of one album.
Nas' detailed lyrics about
the grittiness of street life
sound as authentic today as
they did in 1994. Listeners
across the country were
instantly transported to
the Queensbridge housing
projects, experiencing the

fear, pride and triumph of a
Black kid trying to make it in
Queens, New York.
Illmatic is only ten songs
long and each one is an
unimpeachable classic.
Nas has a way of bringing
small moments of real-life
into his raps through his
deeply personal rhymes. His
childhood love of the Jackson
5, for instance, makes his
escapades of gangbanging
and shootouts feel like they
actually happened. Nas is
more than a caricature.
The first full song, "NY
State of Mind," introduces
the listener to life on the
block. Tales of crackheads,
dreams of a better life and a
shootout in a building filled
with innocent children are
intensely honest meditations,
making Nas relatable even to
those who have never held a
gun or lived in squalor. The
following track isfillp.4 with
bleak nihilism, reminding
us all that "life's a bitch, and
then you die." This shocking
statement sees a 20-year-old
already world-weary from the
violence he has seen, ready to

Call: #734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com

RELEASE DATE- Friday, April 18, 2014
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

ACROSS
1 Famiglia
nickname
6 Celtic language
11 Base enforcers,
briefly
14 Menu listings
15 Muse with alyre
16 Bugler in a forest
17 Fish-derived
supplement
19 Behold
20 Diners Club
competitor
21 Binding promise
22 Tool that's not for
crosscuts
24 Prince Charles'
closettul
27itle stuffed bear
in a 2112 film
28 Valley where
Hercules slewa
lion
29 Site of the Alaska
Purchase
transsier
ceremony
33 Blues home:
Abbr.
34 Cellular
messengers
37 Leuing the
jurisdiction,
perhaps
41 Brestpals
42Of Mice and _
43 Hall of Puma
umpire Conlan
44App writer
46"... againsta._
of troubles":
Hamlet
481982 Joan Jett &
the Blackhearts
ht
54 Lxurywatch
55 Bailed-out
insurance co.
56 Mislead
58 'The Prague
Cemetery"
novelist
59 Literary orphan...
andwat 17-,24-,
37- and 48-
Acrosseach
centains?
62 It may be fresh or
stale
63 Milk source
64 Sculled
65 House and
Howser
668 Bygone
monarhs
67 Winemaking tool

DOWN
1 Mineral found in
sheets
2 Basic matter
3 Vengeful
sorceress of
myth
4 Appomattox
bicentennial year
5 Faulkner's "_.
Lay Dying"
6 Did lawn work
7 Proofers find
8 Thai native
9 Last words in a
drink recipe,
perhaps
10 'Total patient'
treatment
11 Likeone
expected to
deliver?
12 Fabric fold
13 Slants
18 Revolting
23 Rico
25 Angled Itro.
26 Not misled by
29 Whereto get
wraps and
scrsbs
30 "Are you going?"
response
31 French and
Italian flags
32 Disputed Balkan
republic

33 Vice principle 48 Construction
35 Hunky-dory girder
36_-mine 49 Understandable
38 Taurus 50 Underground
birthstones, worker
perhaps 51 Sun Tzu's 'The
39 Florida's _ Art"
Beach 52 Longest river in
40 Out of alamb? France
45 Pious 53 Gets knocked off
46 They're often 57Old Fords
on a slippery 60 Gilbert and
slope Sullivan princess
47 MIT grad, often 61 Part of an inning
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drown his pain in a bottle or
with a blunt. Throughout the
album, there are shout outs to
Ill Will, Nas' best friend who
was shot and killed.Illmatic
is filled with reminders of
our mortality, although at
times Nas appears to possess
superhuman talent.
"The World Is Yours"
opens with some of the most
powerful lyrics ever recorded.
"I sip the Dom P, watching
Gandhi til I'm charged / Then
writing in my book of rhymes,
all the words past the margin."
This mind-bending lyricism
shows the multi-faceted
nature of Nas;even at age 20,
he is both a kid from the gutter
and a gifted intellectual. This
dual nature, coupled with his
honest delivery and his poise
behind the microphone made
Nas an emcee unlike any
other. Released at the height
of the G-Funk era,illnptic
was applar opposit gf glssy
West Coast rap. The New York
streets Nas lived on were
dirty, filled with garbage,
baseheads and dice games.
The crime-centric narratives
of Illmatic are a far cry from
the mafioso raps that were
popular with mainstream
audiences at the time, yet the
lyrics resonate deeper than
any pop-rap record.
"I rap for listeners,
bluntheads, fly ladies and
prisoners," Nas states on
"Memory Lane," showing the
diversity of his audience. Nas
made an album that anyone
can appreciate it is intricately
lyrical, sincerely personal
and a profound commentary
on the harsh realities of
street life. Illmatic's appeal
is universal. Upon its release,
the album was critically
acclaimed, earning a rare five
mic rating from The Source,
one of hip-hop's premier
magazines. This honor has
only ever been bestowed upon
15 albums, yet Nas holds two
of the top spots.
When Illmatic was
released, Nas was still living
in the same Queensbridge
housing projects that are
memorialized in his lyrics.
Today, Nas is undeniably a
rap legend. He has six chart-
topping albums, tied with
Eminem and Kanye West.
His work ethic is tireless; he
dropped his eleventh studio
album, the excellent Life Is
Good in 2012. Nas' talent is
still evident to this day, but he
has never topped the caliber
of his debut album, nor has
any other rapper. Illmatic is
simply the most perfect hip-
hop album to ever be recorded.
The flawless tapestry of
street life weaves together
gripping narratives with
eloquent lyricism, detailing
Nas' unrelenting pursuit of
success. Of course, Illmatic
also serves as a constant
reminder of how quickly life
can end. "I never sleep, cause
sleep is the cousin of death,"
raps Nas on "NY State of
Mind." Illmatic is a snapshot
of life in the Queensbridge
projects preserved throughout
time, and its honesty and

remarkable storytelling make
its greatness unequaled.

I

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CROSSWORD,
THEN ORDER
ONE.

tin Peer Koeters
(c20T ribaueCteentAen,tLLC

04/18/14

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K

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