November 11, 2004

Vote for Lauryn Hill '08
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

Waiting in line to vote in the election this year felt like waiting in line for food in the college dining hall. You know you need to choose something, but the options look so unappealing that you would rather not have anything. Some of the options are cleary worse than others, but how repulsive the chicken looks doesn't make the bland fish look any more appetizing.

When will we get a presidential nominee who people will want to vote for because they actually like him and not just because they hate the other guy? Probably not before the food in McElroy becomes a delicious culinary delight. Though the next election is still four very long years away, the Democrats are already looking for the future of their party. Nas and Wyclef Jean have declared themselves candidates. These are their platforms.

Nas - "If I Ruled the World"

Last night while playing Risk with my roommates until the wee hours of the morning I realized that our recently reelected president understood something about the world that I did not: Life, like Risk, is a game of world domination. Everyone from George Bush to Pinky and the Brain wants to take over the world, and Nas is no exception. On this duet with Lauryn Hill, Nas outlines his plan for when he's the man in charge. His first order of business: "I'd open every cell in Attica and send them to Africa."

Sadly, like most other politicians who want to rule the world, Nas seems more interested in the personal perks than the greater good. He raps, "If I ruled the world and everything in it, sky's the limit/ I'd push a Q-45 Infinite." I would hope for a bit more ambition from my leaders than the hope of driving a $55,000 car. Nas should at least try to get some multi-billion dollar no-bid construction contracts for his homies.

Wyclef Jean - "If I Was President"

Presidential candidates tend to promise the world on the campaign trail, but refuse to offer concrete strategies on how they actually plan on achieving or funding their proposals. Wyclef is no exception. In "If I Was President" he offers vague, crowd-pleasing promises like, "Instead of spending billions on the war, we can use some of that money in the ghetto."

What are your specific education proposals for reforming our failing schools in the inner city, Mr Jean? "Tell the children the truth. Yeah. The truth," he proposes. Unfortunately, Wyclef doesn't think the country is ready for such a straight-talker in the White House. He sings, "I'd get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday, and buried on Sunday." If Wyclef really thinks he'd be assassinated, then I'd definitely vote for him if he chose fellow-Fugee Lauryn Hill as his vice president and successor. Instead of looking to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to bring diversity to the White House, vote Lauryn Hill 2008.
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

Live instrumental hip-hop tends to have its heart in the right place but falters in its presentation. It often seems like the emcee's lyrics are struggling to be heard above the band's accompaniment. Unfortunately, in order to avoid this problem, live hip-hop musicians often attempt to replicate the looped-sound of traditionally produced beats. The Roots, the most famous live hip-hop band, are notoriously guilty of both.

The three musicians and two emcees in Hieruspecs are perfect examples of how rappers and musicians can collaborate to create a progressive musically-based hip-hop album.

The crew hails from St. Paul, where it earned a reputation opening for fellow Minnestota-native Atmosphere. Who would expect Minneapolis to produce so much great hip-hop?

As a whole, the group's newest album, A Tiger Dancing, is the most enjoyable live instrument hip-hop albums of all time. Unlike groups like The Roots, Heiruspecs avoids the distracting musical wanderings typical of overly talented musicians. They seem more interested in entertaining the listener than impressing the critics.

As a result the album is listenable from beginning to end, with standout tracks including "Swearsong," where emcee Muad'Dib shows off his syllabic gymnastics, "5ves," where the live drums hit noticeably harder than your typical computer-programmed beats, and the beautifully romantic "Heartstrings," where emcee Felix shines as a subtle, poignant poet.