November 3, 2005
Atmosphere: You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having
| November 3, 2005
On Atmosphere’s last album Seven’s Travels, MC Slug comically proclaimed “Atmosphere finally made a good record. Yeah right, that shit almost sounds convincing.” Too bad Slug couldn’t save that line for Atmosphere’s newest album, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having. It’s not that the new album is a disappointment. It’s just that I expected much better from a group that has been at the forefront of the underground rap scene for nearly a decade.
These champions of Midwest suburbia created a very smart, and occasionally hilariously witty style that seemed to peak with Seven’s Travels. Slug’s confessional, down-to-Earth raps made Seven’s Travels lyrically multi-dimensional, while producer Ant created beats that weren’t simple but weren’t overproduced either. Take “Los Angeles,” one of the best tracks on the album, in which Ant loops a crispy, old school beat while Slug rants about how weird, glamorous, vain and awesome L.A. is, all in barely two minutes. Even on “Trying to Find a Balance,” the catchiest and most complex song on the album, Slug manages to diffuse and mock his categorization as an “emo rapper” by cleverly combining political jabs with outright crass and fratastic lyrics (“Now I’m too fucked up to dance, so I’m gonna sit with my hand down the front of my pants.”).
Not to mention its awful title, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having isn’t nearly as lyrically eclectic and funny as Seven’s Travels. On the new album, Atmosphere seems to embrace its categorization as the spoken word version of Death Cab for Cutie, creating an album that is cliche and sometimes too unoriginal to listen to.
The first track off the new album, “The Arrival,” revolves around a repetitive and generic beat that gets old after the first minute. Nevertheless, the annoying beat doesn’t stop Slug from desperately trying to keep his listener’s attention. He lazily injects the words “They arrived” in between verses, but the effect is so irritating that the entire track is almost painful to listen to. On “Angelface,” Slug can’t wait to prove to the world that he can rhyme multi-syllable words, but in reality, it just seems like he’s trying too hard.
This is not to say all the tracks on the album are terrible. There are definitely a couple of awesome ones such as “Little Man,” where Ant adds swagger to an already amazing Juelz Santana beat and Slug pours his heart out in a very unique manner (each verse is a different letter addressed to a different person). The beat sampled on “Say Hey There,” which features a jazzy piano riff, bluesy bass line and background soul vocals, is some of Ant’s finest work on the album, and Slug adds some diversity to his sound by changing the tempo. Not Atmosphere’s finest work but worth checking out nonetheless.
Archived article by Jonny Lieberman Sun Staff Writer
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November 4, 2005
Balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and some semblance of a social life at Cornell is hard for any student. Adding 10-12 hours of paid work each week places a significant burden on even the most organized undergrads. Nearly half of Cornell undergraduates (49 percent) received need-based financial aid, with an average grant of $17,292 in 2004-2005. Students were then asked to come up with, on average, another $11,000 through loans or work. These numbers, coming from Thomas Keane, director of financial aid for scholarships and policy analysis, reflect the tremendous financial burden that rests on many students that sit in your classes, participate in your clubs and live in your dorms. “We need to provide enough money for students to be here, but not a single dollar more,” Keane said of the tight financial aid budget. Earning Their Keep Freshmen are expected to earn $1,800 as part of their aid package, an amount that rises to $2,000 annually for upperclassmen. Whatever is not met by salaries must be covered by loans or outside scholarships. Students usually put in 10 hours per week, according to Keane’s estimate. There is also a summer employment requirement for students entering Cornell with a financial aid package. Incoming freshmen are expected to earn $2,060 by the time they move in in August, an amount Keane admits “absolutely is a stretch.” About 500 students each year ask for a Summer Savings Expectation Adjustment because their summer jobs or internships did not cover the earnings expectation. As with academic year adjustments, the gap between money earned and money needed is filled by a loan. Cornell’s self-help level of $11,000 is more than twice the average of other Ivy League schools, Keane said, estimating that peer schools usually expect $5,000 from loans and work. Cornell’s large size and relatively small endowment are factors that force the University to rely so much on student income and debt. To reduce the self-help level by just $1,000 per student would cost Cornell $2.8 million. “We can’t afford to make that jump,” Keane said. Playing Favorites Not only can the University not afford to pay for a decrease in students’ self-help level, but many departments do not have the money to pay full student salaries. They often rely on students with Federal Work-Study (FWS) because the government pays half of the wages. The history department, for example, “strongly suggests that a student be work-study eligible to work in the office,” said Maggie Edwards, undergraduate coordinator for the department. “This isn’t our only deciding factor when hiring students, but it certainly doesn’t hurt,” she said. At the university libraries, FWS is “preferred, but not by any means required,” according to Lyndsi Prignon, human resources manager for the libraries. The libraries employ nearly 500 students annually, most of whom work between 8 and 10 hours per week. Alison Auriemmo ’06, lead manager on duty at the Straight, attributes her success in finding a job to her financial aid situation. A Cornell Tradition fellow, half of her wages are subsidized by the Tradition endowment. “If I didn’t have Tradition it would have been really hard for me to find a job on campus,” Auriemmo said. She works 10-12 hours per week and is restricted to hiring other Tradition fellows or students with FWS or COSEP (Committee on Special Education Projects) funding. Keane admitted that FWS students (or those with similar pay-sharing programs) are often favored. “Most departments would take the work-study student over the non work-study student,” he said. “My experience has been that in getting a job, non work-study students are not at a disadvantage. In getting a specific job, they might be.” Work-Life Balance Josh Katcher ’06, a student-elected trustee who oversaw a review of non-mandatory fees last year, said students who work are at a disadvantage. “There are two tiers of students – those who can afford the whole Cornell experience, and those who can’t,” he said. For those who must work, “it can take away from your ability to have a social life.” But Prignon disagreed, saying that student employees do not have to struggle to finish schoolwork and find downtime. “There are enough hours in the day to work and build your skills as a student and an employee and still have your social life,” she said. Hannah Marcus ’06, who currently works in Collegetown but used to work at the Cornell Cinema office and WSH ticket desk, said she had to find new employment because 16 hours on campus did not fit into her class schedule anymore. Her current job is closer to where she lives but sometimes requires up to 20 hours per week, including evenings. Marcus said she cannot socialize as much as she would like because of her job. “Of course working affects my social life. But if I don’t work, I don’t have the money to drink anyway,” she said. A Freer Market Despite perceived limitations on the availability of jobs for students without FWS, Cornell’s student employment system is more than competitive with other schools in upstate New York. At Ithaca College, students who are expected to work for financial aid reasons are assigned to Dining Services for their freshman year. Upperclassmen can choose their own jobs. Students who do not qualify for aid at Ithaca College might find the job hunt a little harder. “First-time student employees who have not applied for financial aid must wait until October 1st to obtain a position,” states the Student Employment website. At Cornell, on the other hand, students can begin their job searches even before they come to campus. At SUNY Binghamton, students who are not eligible for FWS but want on-campus employment are restricted to a group of jobs that are also open to more attractive FWS students. And SUNY Cortland students can be paid as little as $5.15 per hour, although the university “encourages” minimum wages of $6.00. Cornell’s wage scale ranges from $6.75 to $16.00 for highly skilled jobs that are often saved for graduate students. Keane is proud of what he called Cornell’s “free market” approach to student employment because students can find the jobs that best fit them and receive a structured wage increase as they become more experienced.Archived article by Melissa KornSun Senior Editor
November 4, 2005
After a heartbreaking loss to Princeton last weekend, the football team will look to rebound tomorrow when it travels to Hanover, N.H., to take on Dartmouth (2-5, 1-3 Ivy). With a logjam at the top of the Ivy standings, the Red (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) has all but fallen out of the race for the championship and must refocus itself on the remainder of its schedule. “There was a a bit of a mourning process for all of us because [the loss] effectively eliminated the title hopes for the senior class. That’s a tough pill to swallow,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “I don’t know how many people expected us to do it this year – we’re only in the second year – but we did. … But, that lasted a short period of time. And then we really talked about how important it was for us to move on – to go to Dartmouth with a winning attitude, an upbeat attitude, and an aggressive style.” While Cornell is only 1-3 in league games this season, its play over the past two weekends against Princeton and Brown is a testament to the improvement of the program over the last two years. The Red dropped the contests by a combined 17 points, however, it outgained both opponents on offense and had opportunities to win each game in the fourth quarter. The Tigers and the Bears are tied with Yale and Penn at the top of the Ivy standings entering this weekend. “You look at the two games against Brown and Princeton – teams that are right up there – and we were right there with both of them,” Knowles said. Dartmouth is tied with Cornell for sixth place, with its only conference victory coming over Columbia at home last weekend by a score of 17-6. However, the Red has been much more impressive statistically this season, as the squad ranks fourth in both scoring offense and defense. In contrast, the Green is seventh in points per game with 14.6, a significant drop-off compared to Cornell’s 26.6 average. Dartmouth also ranks second-to-last in the league in points allowed with 26.4 per contest. Despite its reasonably disappointing showing on paper, Knowles recognizes Dartmouth as a solid defensive squad. “They have a pretty good defense. They’ve been put into some short field situations by their offense with some turnovers,” Knowles said. “To me, the matchup between their defense and our offense will be a fairly tight matchup. What needs to happen is our defense and special teams need to deliver those short field situations to our offense to be able to create more immediate and early success.” One area which Cornell will most certainly look to exploit is Dartmouth’s rushing defense. The Red ranks first in the league with 235.6 yards per game on the ground, including 107.9 from sophomore tailback Luke Siwula and 84.6 from senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn – third and fourth in the league respectively. The Green has allowed over 140 rushing yards per game thus far this year. “The matchups are good in the sense that the better team that plays that day is going to win the game,” Knowles said. “It’s just time for the players and the seniors to stand up. We said that last week. We have done all the motivation. We’ve done the emails, bringing a picture of Cornell into our locker room, the music, the Grand Slam sandwiches. It almost become a, ‘Come on now, let’s stand up and go up there with an attitude that we’re going to be aggressive and win the ballgame.'” As for the Cornell defense, it will have to contend with Dartmouth freshman quarterback Josh Cohen, who has emerged as the starter and thrown for 166.6 yards per game and five touchdowns. His favorite target has been senior Ryan Fuselier, who ranks second among Ivy League receivers with 37 receptions. Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevans will be forced to lean even more heavily on his passing attack tomorrow, due to the injuries to many key components of the running game. With sophomore tailback Chad Baudet already out for the season, the Green will also likely be without senior Jason Bash, who was injured against the Lions last Saturday. Senior Ikechi Ogbonna and freshman Milan Williams are expected to shoulder the majority of the load tomorrow. “I think they have been more productive in the passing game [this season],” Knowles said. “They have gotten behind in some ballgames and gone almost exclusively to the pass. If you watch the Yale game, it was a tight ballgame – I think it was 13-0 – their run was fairly hard-nosed in a two-back approach. I think they’ll see us as a team that they should try to pass on more than run on. So, I think that is where the challenges will come.” However, the major obstacle the Red will face this weekend is overcoming the knowledge that it will not be involved in the chase for the Ivy Championship this year. Knowles still believes there is plenty to play for, beginning tomorrow in Hanover. “You are talking about a three-game season,” Knowles said. “Your are talking about boiling it down to three games. What’s past is past. All the hard work in the weight room and in the offseason, comes down to a three-game season – are we going to have a winning season or not?” Archived article by Bryan Pepper Sun Assistant Sports Editor