Entries Tagged as 'Culture on the Hill'

Claudia Rankine Provides Commentary On Citizen: An American Lyric’s Message

9.21.2017

By Elise Collene

Claudia Rankine Discusses Citizen

On Thursday, September 7, hundreds of KU students and staff bustled into the Lied Center, packing the auditorium and filling every seat. Attendees patiently waited for Claudia Rankine to discuss this year’s KU Common Book, her book “Citizen: An American Lyric.

Chancellor Douglas A. Girod began the ceremony by explaining the history of the Common Book program, which has been connecting students on campus since 2012. Girod discussed how past Common Books have often focused on difficult times and that Rankine’s work “Citizen” is no exception. Focusing on the question, “What does it mean to be a citizen?” “Citizen” dives into what racial aggression looks like in today’s society and what it feels like receive racial aggression. Girod explained that he believes this aggression is relevant in light of what is happening in society today and that it can have extreme effects on a person’s day-to-day life. Consequently, this year’s Common Book was chosen to allow KU students to face these challenges in a constructive manner and allow students who deal with these issues to bond.

I was unsure of what to expect reading “Citizen.” As I began reading, it was difficult to catch on to Rankine’s style of writing. However, once I was in sync with the lyrical flow of her writing, I was intrigued and shocked at some of the stories in the book. “Citizen” is filled with snippets of stories; some are told by family, friends and strangers while others are from news reports or Rankine’s own analysis of different events. Photos, sculptures and other forms of art also line the pages. Rankine brings these elements together to form a unique and powerful piece of poetry. The combination of personal stories and true, documented events allows Rankine to create this piece of literature that is simultaneously formal and intimate. Rankine said she created the book to be “able to be entered without being colored by specific events”. With all of the distinct pieces coming together, her ideas ring clear and readers are left with the stark realization that racism is alive today and manifests in many forms.

When Claudia Rankine finally appeared on the Lied Center’s stage, I was excited to hear what she wanted KU Students to extract from “Citizen”. Rankine discussed the book’s art and how it played a role in the meaning of the book. She discussed in further detail how the art was hand-picked and intentionally placed to uniquely connect with sections of the text. It was interesting to hear directly from the author and compare her intentions to my own thoughts and opinions while reading the book. The art, for me, was the most difficult part of book to interpret, but after her speech, I was left with a better understanding of the novel and how she was able to pull from many different sources, finally merging these contrasting excerpts together to create a beautiful and influential piece of literature.

Before Rankine left the stage, she left the audience with a piece of advice.

“There are all kinds of people and they will help you if you let them,” she said.

Rankine explained that we are unable to carry all of our mistakes in ourselves, so we must find people to help us unpack them. Rankine offers an important message for people of all races, ages, and genders: we are all people and we can help each other if we try.

NOT JUST A PHASE: EMO NITE ROCKS THE GRANADA

9.19.2017

Every night is emo night, but this night was particularly emo.

By Justin Hermstedt

Photo by Caleb Hundelt

On September 8, a couple hundred darkly and emotionally dressed young people emerged from the shadows to descend upon the Granada. Style on the Hill came to document the party – nay – the movement that is Emo Nite.

That night the Granada provided a space for Lawrence’s millennials to let their emo flags fly. Here are a few of the looks Emo Nite inspired.

Photos by Nicole Mitchell

“Not a band. Not DJ’s. We throw parties for the music we love,” says the twitter bio of Emo Nite. I had come expecting a band, to be honest. I didn’t know what to make of the fact that I was basically just listening to someone’s emo playlist. As it would turn out, I just needed to hear the right song. Here’s an audio clip of when the Emo Nite team played “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. 

Photos by Caleb Hundelt

Emo music brought people together that night. Emoism may have been a temporary, regrettable phase for many of us, but at Emo Nite I learned that a part of it sticks with you forever. You can take the eyeliner off of the kid, but you can’t take the kid off the eyeliner. Anyway, one of the Emo Nite hosts said it best at the end of the show. “There’s hurricanes happening and the threat of nuclear war, but none of that matters right now.”

How awesome is that? Emo Nite is an outlet for angst and anguish no matter where it comes from: politics, parents, or puberty.

SZA Brings Timeless Authenticity to Kansas City

9.08.2017

By Rebekah Swank

 

The Uptown Theater is an old-school concert venue with vintage vibes. The bright-shining bulbs spelling out “Uptown” lit the sign below –“SZA” was illuminated. Kansas City natives and visitors began lining up outside of the theater as early as 4:30 p.m. Fans dressed in true, fabulous SZA fashion while wrapping around the corner and down the street. I saw tight, full-body sequin jumpsuits; oversized jackets, Adidas sweatpants paired with bikini tops, and voluminous, curly hair.

Walking into the concert hall, I was overwhelmed with a skunky scent. White clouds of smoke were scattered throughout the crowd. As the curtains opened and people screamed, giant neon letters spelling “CTRL” gleamed over the heads in front of me. SZA emerged in loose, purple, metallic pants and a black tank top; her long red hair billowed behind her with every step she took.

SZA’s real name is Solána Imani Rowe. She got the inspiration for her stage name from the Supreme Alphabet and the rapper RZA. S stands for “sovereign,” Z stands for “zig-zag,” and A stands for “Allah, the most high.” SZA was raised as an Orthodox Muslim, and still practices Islam, and relies on her faith to stay true to herself and her music.

Mitch Saffle, a student at Kansas State University, admires SZA for being honest in her album newest album, CTRL.

“[The album] was a story of her life. She was being open and honest with her listeners, and because of that I realized I related to some of her struggles regarding relationships and self-worth. SZA is truly an inspirational artist,” Saffle said.

SZA’s connection to her fans is unique to her and her performances. When she sang and danced, I could see her radiating with happiness as more and more of her followers sang along with her.

“SZA was an amazing performer, and I really appreciated her interaction with the crowd, asking how we were doing ‘physically, mentally, and spiritually,’” Saffle said. “To me it seemed that she was just a genuine person doing what she loved.”

Although her show seemed short, SZA’s performance was energetic and authentic. From her opening song of “Supermodel,” when the crowd screeched with excitement, to her finale singing “Twenty Something,” she twirled around the stage and bellowed her lyrics with fervor.

I have listened to SZA since I was a senior in high school. I have trolled through her Instagram and Twitter accounts. I have tried to recreate some of her greatest looks with very little success. She is truly a one of a kind musical artist, and after seeing her on stage, all I can say is “Go Gina.”

Melodrama is Lorde’s (Successful) Quest for Identity

7.21.2017

By Justin Hermstedt

Melodrama is an album of high and low, flight and crash landing, ecstasy and hangover. In the four years since the release of Pure Heroine in 2013, Lorde has accumulated a new trove of source material for her autobiographical songwriting. With Melodrama, Lorde reestablishes her ability to translate her experiences into bittersweet illustrations of young-adulthood. Lorde, along with collaborators including Jack Antonoff (aka Bleachers) and Flume, crafted a comeback that’s too nuanced to be called a breakup album: Melodrama is a quest for identity.

 

The album comprehensively tackles the spectrum of emotions a breakup imposes. Lorde begins by revealing the unhealthy duality of her former relationship, then sifts through the different stages of grief and heartbreak she endured. Lorde begins and ends Melodrama with radio-friendly pop jams, but we’re taken on a visceral journey in the space between “Green Light” and “Perfect Places.”

 

“Green Light” is an energized kick starter to the album that places Lorde in a reckless post-breakup furor. Wasting no time, Lorde tosses a hope-filled key change at the listener after a scathing first verse (to be clear, we’re only 45 seconds into the album at this point). This divergence introduces the identity crisis that a breakup can hurl you into, especially when you’re young. When you love a partner, they become a part of who you are. You’re not yourself without them–you’re not whole. When they leave you, it doesn’t shatter your delicate glass heart; it tears a chunk of flesh from your body. Many-a-songwriter would whimsically say they were “left to pick up the pieces.” Instead, on “Sober II (Melodrama)” Lorde bluntly shares the “terror and the horror” of her “holy sick divine nights” newly alone.

 

The feeling that connects the first ten tracks of Melodrama is uncertainty. Lorde grapples with a number of pressing questions. How do you recover from heartbreak? Who are you without that person, without that missing part? Ultimately, what lessons and memories do you take with you from your failed relationship?

 

It’s difficult to answer these questions for yourself, and harder still to know if you’ve answered them correctly. On the question of how to cope, Lorde has a few strategies, each under the mantle of a different persona. The first Lorde we meet is the deadened ballader of “Liability.” Blaming or hating yourself is a foreseeable stage of grief, but she manages to escape the abyss of total self loathing. She leans on her own shoulder, calling herself “the only love [she hasn’t] screwed up.”

 

“Hard Feelings/Loveless” introduces us to two new shades of Lorde. These personas are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, if Dr. Jekyll was timid and melancholic, and Mr. Hyde was a bad bitch. As “Hard Feelings” fades out, we start to get the sense that Lorde is going to be okay. There’s still some venting to do (cue “Loveless” and “Sober II”), but she’s given the first indications of inner-peace.

 

Inner-peace and acceptance are the goal from the get-go, (from the green light, if you will) but they don’t come naturally after being dumped. You’re given a few variables–anger, misery, delirium, etc.–and you have to plug them into an equation. Somehow, these terrible feelings are supposed to equate to peace.

 

In the third act of Melodrama, Lorde tries to make it compute. The last four tracks really are a remarkable sequence of music, and they propel the album above the sum of its parts. On the heart-wrenching “Writer In the Dark” Lorde finds strength in her solitude in New York:

I ride the subway, read the signs

I let the seasons change my mind

I love it here, since I stopped needing you

Now that she’s allowed herself to move on, Lorde reflects on what she wants to take with her from her former love. It’s okay, Lorde suggests, to cherish certain memories; they don’t have to be tarnished by the bad ones.

 

The reprise of “Liability” is one final vanquishing of self-blame. Lorde defiantly declares that its his fault, his loss, and his problem. “You’re not what you thought you were. Leave.”

 

“Perfect Places” was tepid as a single. It seemed playful and catchy, but not particularly deep. As the conclusion to Melodrama, it’s triumphant. “Perfect Places” chronologically pairs with “Green Light,” depicting a vignette of Lorde a year or so after the the events of the rest of the album. She tumbles through a cycle of partying, but remains very self-aware. Not all of her wounds have healed, but perhaps they don’t need to.

 

Amid her heartbreak, she rediscovers herself as a balance of those personas and who she was before. The impossible equation that neutralizes heartbreak hasn’t been solved, but it’s been reframed. Lorde processed the hopeless pits of self-blame, the unfulfilling pursuit of revenge, and the crushing weight of uncertainty, and she forged a stronger self. “The heartache, and the trauma, and the fucking melodrama,” have lead her here. The end of Melodrama finds Lorde wandering on, still learning and still healing. Miraculously, she’s able to roll her eyes at the melodrama of it all.

 

Expect adversity, and redirect it to change you for the better. Expect to hear “The Louvre” on season 2 of Riverdale. And expect to someday hear more from Lorde, a prodigious songwriter and voice of a generation.

It’s Spring Break!!

3.21.2017

And to help you celebrate, we come bearing a dope playlist:

 

    Older Entries »