Volume 94, Issue 68
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Rage's swan song superior
Rage Against the Machine
Let's get one thing straight there was nothing wrong with Rage Against the Machine's music when they were the authors of it. So what happens when they borrow the musical stylings of acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Cypress Hill? The answer is a successful marriage of guitar, drums and vocals driven by unrelenting rage.
Renegades is a fiery cover album featuring 12 tracks and two bonus live performances by the now-defunct "Renegades of Funk." While it might seem like a case of strange bedfellows to find Rage covering songs by "The Boss," the music truly speaks for itself. If 2 Live Crew can sample from Springsteen, then Rage can certainly pull it off.
The style of songs range from the punk-rock of "In My Eyes," to the eerily calm "Beautiful World," as well as the all-out fury of "How I Could Just Kill a Man."
As stated in the liner notes, all sounds are produced solely by guitar, drums and vocals. This makes the band's adaptation of Cypress Hill and the first single, "Renegades of Funk," all the more impressive.
It certainly catches the regular Rage listener a bit off-guard to hear the usually politically motivated band spitting out lines like "taken out some puntos," but it is also interesting to gain insight into the groups that have influenced the band. Elements of Rage's trademark lyrics and musical styles are found in every song.
Precious few bands would be able to do justice to a hip-hop song without the aid of a drum machine or turntables. It's a tragedy this quartet is no longer doing their impressive thing, since they had an uncanny knack for raging against the machine without being conquered by it.
The First Cut is the Deepest
Track and Field/Koch Records
With The First Cut is the Deepest, the 'undisputed Queen of hip hop' brings a strong, yet sexy perspective on the life of ambitious and determined females, mixed with a twist of R&B and Jamaican funk.
Although most hip hop heads will remember Michie Mee for her 1987 Scott La Rock-produced "Elements of Style," featuring KRS-One, the Canadian MC also has a 1991 underground solo record and two rap-metal compilation albums under her belt. On The First Cut is the Deepest, Michie Mee spits an impressive, freestyle-sounding flow that resembles the skills of Chuck D and MC Lyte in their prime.
Michie Mee's current single, "Ripped Mee Off," allows her to showcase this lyrical ability over a Grassroots-produced reggae beat, while she tears apart the egos of Canadians who run to the States in order to make it big. And "Your Daughter" featuring Angel Duss, also gives Michie a chance to indirectly attack the Lil' Kims and Foxy Browns, who have "nothing but skin to show."
Other head-bopping tracks include "Lady Luck," where Michie paints a sombre picture of street life over a Mobb Deep-sounding beat, and the DJ X-produced "Cover Girl," in which Ms. Mee describes her life in her own seductive style.
Michie only seems to slip up on songs like "Still Here," "Cut Off," and "Fun Surround Dem," when she succumbs to the stereotype that MCs need to excessively swear and shout in order to get their point across. And although Michie's 'answering machine' tracks seem cute at first, she could have included samples from her Power Move radio show, or Drop the Beat TV program, to keep her album's interludes a bit more interesting.
Nevertheless, Michie Mee's The First Cut is the Deepest stands out as an inspiration for females and struggling MCs everywhere, and should definitely find its way into your collection of best Canadian hip hop albums of all time.
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