funk music

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prince To Release Two Albums 9/30

Posted by funkatop On August - 25 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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News of two albums including track listings for both releases here.

3rd Prince Art Official Age albumEye Girl made an appearance on Good Morning America this morning (8/25) to announce what most had already found out via leak. A new store is now online at http://store.artofficialage.com and its very first and only products were not just the long awaited Plectrum Electrum, but also a new album entitled Art Official Age.  Both announced to be available on 9/30/2014.  No indication as to whether they will both be available for immediate download on that date or if the physical copies will be shipped timely for the buyer to receive them on the release date.

The long anticipated Plectrum Electrum looks to finally have its release date alongside the new Art Official Age album and debuts 12 songs. Between the two albums, that constitutes 25 new songs.  Both albums list 3 “extra” MP3 singles that will come with the bundle, but do not indicate what they are or if they’re simply showing what’s already included. If they are, then the count goes from 25 to 31. Doc also announced that those mystery tracks should be available for instant download  upon pre-order.

Prince and 3rd Eye Girl - Plectrum ElectrumThe track listing for AOA  showed songs listed that were assumed to make an appearance on Plectrum Electrum. Among those in the track listing were Breakdown, Breakfast Can Wait, The Gold Standard and FUNKNROLL.  All of which were touted as tunes that would appear on the 3rd Eye Girl album, but apparently have been shifted over to Prince‘s Art Official Age album.  Art Official Age lists 13 tracks and includes bundle bonuses.

Two things to strangely note is that the store is not on a secure socket layer until the final stages of checkout which may make some fans skiddish. Granted you’re not sharing personal info until then, but frequent online shoppers have become very accustomed to having their entire experience protected.

The other note is that Prince fans back from the NPG Music Club are still a bit apprehensive about pre-ordering albums due to past problems with delivery dates. Hopefully that problem has been resolved but many are still gun-shy after receiving their pre-ordered albums weeks and in some cases months after ordering them. One could say that gone are those days of NPGMC and that things are definitely on a new level, but the fans on the receiving end of that oversight don’t tend to forgive and forget that easily.

No doubt that Prince will have heads rolling if any such occurrence happens again because like his fans, he expects the best and he can’t afford to be made to look bad by a distribution company that drops the ball.  On a cool note though, each pre-order gets an entry to see Prince at a Paisley Park concert in October.

And lastly, there is no indication of any distribution via USB as they hinted, but there’s also a lot of time between now and the end of September, so we’re sure that surprises may be in the works. Not to mention that there still is no release date mentioned for the 30th anniversary edition of Purple Rain with only 4 months left in the year. Come back Nikki, come back…

ARTIST NAME: Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL
ALBUM TITLE: PLECTRUMELECTRUM
TRACKLISTING:

1 WOW
2 PRETZELBODYLOGIC
3 AINTTURNINROUND
4 PLECTRUMELECTRUM
5 WHITECAPS
6 FIXURLIFEUP
7 BOYTROUBLE
8 STOPTHISTRAIN
9 ANOTHERLOVE
10 TICTACTOE
11 MARZ
12 FUNKNROLL

Bundle Includes:
PLECTRUMELECTRUM CD
PLECTRUMELECTRUM Digital Album
PRETZELBODYLOGIC Digital Single
Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL Digital Single 1 MP3
Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL Digital Single 2 MP3
Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL Digital Single 3 MP3

 

ARTIST NAME: Prince
ALBUM TITLE: ART OFFICIAL AGE
TRACKLISTING:

1 ART OFFICIAL CAGE
2 CLOUDS
3 BREAKDOWN
4 THE GOLD STANDARD
5 U KNOW
6 BREAKFAST CAN WAIT
7 THIS COULD BE US
8 WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
9 affirmation I & II
10 WAY BACK HOME
11 FUNKNROLL
12 TIME
13 affirmation III

Bundle Includes:
Art Official Age CD
Art Official Age Digital Album
BREAKDOWN Digital Single
CLOUDS Digital Single
Prince Digital Single 1 MP3
Prince Digital Single 2 MP3
Prince Digital Single 3 MP3

 

Prince’s Plectrum Electrum on USB?

Posted by funkatop On August - 5 - 2014 8 COMMENTS
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Plectrum Electrum USB

Graphic created by @PrinceNewsUK.

Interesting post appeared on Twitter from 3rd Eye Girl yesterday showing Plectrum Electrum and a USB stick graphic indicating that the rumor that we had heard about Plectrum Electrum being distributed on USB to protect the sound quality may actually hold some truth.

Update: While we are aware that the graphic was created by a fan, we were more interested that 3rd Eye Girl retweeted it and that this is multiple times it has been mentioned (like here, here, here, etc.). So let’s dig further and speculate on the possibility.

Not to delay things even further, but putting music on USB makes it much easier to distribute and bootleg. Prince has to be aware of that, so expect security measures to be put in place which is bound to have marketing and consumer kickback.

There was originally some coverage in various online locales that the biggest issue for Prince was finding a way to protect the audio quality so that you get the full experience of the album as he intended it to be heard.  What’s a tad unusual about this, is that insinuates that the current mediums like CD’s don’t protect the sound quality even though to the naked ear, it’s about as lossless as you can get.  Can millions of audio professionals be wrong? Apparently so.

This distribution model could potentially end up being a nightmare with bad memory sticks and the fact that it will force the user to listen to it on the computer or if they want to listen in their car, transfer it down to…a CD.  Or end up compressing the files into MP3 and thereby degrading the sound quality.

And again to mention that the security that will need to be in place to keep people from distributing the files via torrent sites. Will it require an active internet connection to validate the files are original and un-pirated? Will there be only a certain amount of times you can transfer the files to CD or your MP3 players before you get locked out?  And transferring the files to something else defeats the purpose of protecting the lossless sound quality, right? We seem to have more questions than answers right now.

Our guess is that all of this has become painfully evident and that they’re trying to figure out ways around these issues. But this graphic they released via Twitter points to the plans that are in motion.

And once again, Prince is set to change the face of music distribution.  We think it’s going to be an interesting ride.

 

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Blackalicious - AtlantaMany often wonder just exactly what’s left to prove for hip hop groups like Blackalicious. They not only come with deep socially conscious lyrics, but have been providing deep grooves with jazzy backdrops for 15 years now. With 3 albums under their belt starting with 1999’s Nia, they are trying to get back into the tour mode on the cusp of releasing a new album called Imani (which is Swahili for Faith).

The tour brought them through Atlanta and they made sure that the setlist was covered with tracks from all 4 of their albums (including performing tracks off of the yet to be released Imani). Their openers were local Atlanta acts Boog Brown and Illmont. Illmont was lucky enough to have Blackalicious‘s Gift of Gab join them on stage for quite a bit of their performance although barely anyone in the audience even recognized him in his casual attire until he was announced at the end of the show. It just goes to show how little people pay attention as it ended up being humorous to watch the crowd go from a callous attitude to a “CRAP! That was Gift of Gab?! I should have been paying attention.”  Luckily, we were.

Blackalicious took the stage around midnight and the length of the show seemed short. But however short the show may have been, Blackalicious filled the night with sing-a-long songs from all of their albums including breaking out new tunes. It was a lot of material to choose from and even considering that Gift of Gab has solo releases of his own to pull from, they certainly were not short of material.

The only surprising factor was that we expected Blackalicious to be backed by a full band and those were probably unrealistic expectations. Blackalicious has been known to build their songs with great music and laid back grooves, so it just felt a bit anemic. Luckily, with Gift of Gab and the Lifesavas at the helm, the experience was still way beyond the price of admission.

Gift of Gab has a very demanding voice that borders between authoritative and comforting at the same time. And when he enters his spitfire speed rapping, there simply is no comparison and he hasn’t lost much vocal stamina over the years. Rounding out the quartet of Blackalicious are Lifesavas members Jumbo and Vursatyl who complement Gift of Gab well with their quick hit one-two punch rhymes. Additonally, Jumbo does a lot more than just rhyme as he does quite a bit to keep the crowd involved by fist bumping with the audience and keeping everyone attentive which can be a feat in itself.

And of course you couldn’t wrap up a review without talking about DJ Chief Xcel. While he may have pulled back on a lot of the normal DJ scratching and cutting cuisine, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Even with the untrained eye, you would still be quick to note that there is a stark contrast between the DJ work of someone like Public Enemy‘s DJ Lord and Chief Xcel. Chief Xcel keeps the flow going and has some stand out moments during the show where he gets to show off his skills. But someone like DJ Lord seems to be “always on” and is constantly scratching, and cutting where it almost seems like there aren’t any shortcuts pre-recorded and that it’s all done on the fly as with any instrument. It certainly doesn’t detract from Chief Xcel‘s show, but his style and flow is vastly different and it works well for what Blackalicious does. You’d also have to consider that Xcel is one of the core producers of almost all of the material that we’ve grown to love from Blackalicious.

All in all, if you have a chance to catch Blackalicious in a live setting, it will be worth the price of admission although it will only make you more anxious for the arrival of the new Imani album that is already almost 2 months past due from previous announced dates. Gift of Gab‘s teasers on the performance of the song Blacka (see below) from the new album is simply followed by “Coming Soon“, but like their live performances, it simply can’t come soon enough. We give Blackalicious‘s Atlanta performance 4 out of 5 afros.

4 out of 5 afros

Check out Blackalicious performing Blacka below and then click here to see even more videos from their Atlanta show.

Interview with FunkJazz Kafe Founder Jason Orr

Posted by funkatop On July - 11 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Why will FunkJazz Kafe always be important to black culture?

FunkJazz Kafe has shared its stage with many acts you know and has served as a launching pad for performers like Erykah Badu, Van Hunt, Janelle Monae, BilalOutkast, Avery Sunshine, and tons more. Funkatopia’s Mr. Christopher got to speak one on one with FunkJazz Kafe founder and creator Jason Orr. They discuss everything from the purpose of FunkJazz Kafe, the state of radio, and the future of soul and funk music.

Visit their website at http://www.funkjazzkafe.com to find out when the next one is happening (real soon) and check the awesome interview below.

Funk Jazz Kafe logo

Review: Clubesque with Sunni Stephens

Posted by funkatop On July - 9 - 2014 1 COMMENT
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Clubesque with Sunni Stephens

For those that have never experienced a cabaret, it’s hard to find just the right one that will deliver that experience in just the right way. Clubesque is that experience and Atlanta is the lucky city to enjoy these strings of shows and there are still some left if you’re looking for a sexy show to lay your eyes on. It is sex and sensuality along with that enticing heavy lust that seems to drip from each performance.

Clubesque is a brilliant and bright cabaret/burlesque show complete with a perfect mix of talent, music and choreography without being too over the top, but standing itself on the edge of what a burlesque show can be and eliminating the eye rolling moments one would typically expect to endure. Yes, there’s nudity, but not enough to steal away from the tight choreographed moments or distract you from the performance.

Sunni StephensThe cast features Sunni Stephens, who is the primary star of the show as she works with talented dancers and performers including Gia Sunflowers, Kyle Collins, and Perle Noire to name a few. Frontlady Sunni Stephens delivers superb vocal performances with strong deliveries that she brings from her laundry list of past notable performances including the Bernie Mac Show, writing and producing multiple off-Broadway musicals, and her accomplished stage work.

There are plenty of “jazz hands” moments, but everything is decorated to showcase an ambiance of Vegas meets classic Chicago showgirls including the Clubesque theme song which delivers a perfect cabaret feel.  As Sunni Stephens points out during her performance, Clubesque celebrates femininity, beauty, and women. It embraces girl power and accentuates the power that comes from beauty and blossoms it into the forefront instead of being derogatory.

The show is strung together with music that brings together both original songs and rehashed classics and is essentially performances placed in succession to create a consistent emotional flow and at the same time avoiding the pitfall of derailing the musical ride.  Kyle Collins does a great job serving as the ringmaster to keep the show flowing and drag extraordinaire Gia Sunflowers also delivered great performances as well.

And probably the performer that most will walk away remembering is Perle Noire who is a world renowned burlesque performer that leaves you holding your breath including her “drum solo” which you’d have to see to believe.  The choreography is well done and all of it is oozing with sexual tension. The result of which might seem difficult to string together into any semblance of order, but that the Clubesque team manages to do well.

Clubesque is a perfect date night show that creates a sensual vibe that’s hard to shake out of your head even after you’ve left the building. Head to http://www.Clubesque.com and check out any upcoming shows. As of this writing, there are still a couple more Atlanta performances and keep an eye out if you’re not out of the ATL because it very well might make it to your town.

If you’re looking for a hot burlesque show that will make you writhe in your seat, this is about as close as you’ll need to get without being burned.

Review: Analog Son

Posted by funkatop On July - 1 - 2014 1 COMMENT
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Analog SonAs we mentioned in another review, we very rarely get amazing funk CD’s, but June proved to be the funkiest month that we can recall in a very long time. Two debut releases hit the market within a few months of each other, one from the band Analog Son and another from 22 year old bass phenom Mike Zabrin called Funktastic. And just like Zabrin, Analog Son came out swinging a heavy funk mallet to do some serious soul damage.

Two friends, Josh Fairman and Jordan Linit have put together some amazing original funk tunes. They finally decided to commit their creations to CD with the help of some of the funkiest musicians in the business. The credits of their self titled debut album Analog Son is a virtual Who’s Who of funky goodness including members of Lettuce, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, The Motet, John Scofield, Soulive and more. And when that much talent joins forces, the end result is inevitable.

While many may not have ever heard of Analog Son‘s members previously, you’ve almost certainly experienced their work supporting acts such as Trombone Shorty, The Funky Meters, The New Mastersounds and Orgone to name a few.

The 10 song album doesn’t simply have bits of brilliance. It is immaculately brilliant in itself. No wasted space, no boring fillers, and all sharing the same commonality of foot tapping funk riffs and sways that it will bring tears to your eyes. Like watching your firstborn win their first award after years of driving them to practice. That “YES! It’s finally paid off!” feeling. In this case, “YES! Finally some amazing new funk music!

The album presents itself in a mode similar to The Monophonics offerings where they commit to the “sound”. In keeping with that tradition, they made sure that they recorded the songs on vintage recording equipment and tape machines to make sure that the nostalgic feeling was present all the way down to the bone. The album is littered with horn stabs, rolling bass grooves, and hard smacking snares and creates a literal time machine back into the 70’s putting it squarely in the hippy zone.

The commitment to doing it right continued to the opposite side of the microphone when they armed the board with live audio engineer Joe Michaels who has worked with The Rolling Stones, Blood Sweat and Tears, and even Larry Graham who didn’t waste time denoting the similarities by stating that, “Mixing these guys is like pure funk heaven….reminds me of my Larry Graham days!“.

While the album is all about hand delivering more funk than your brain can handle, there are still plenty of wide open breathy moments of straight out instrumental jam sessions like Analog Island that will have Tower of Power fans reaching for their blood pressure medicine. And just enough vocal moments to keep Brand New Heavies junkies wide eyed and shaky tailed.

As mentioned, the album is littered front to back with some of the most incredible musicians on the planet including The Motet keyboardist Joey Porter, Dumpstaphunk‘s Ivan Neville on the track Struttin’, The Shady Horns of Lettuce and The New Mastersounds fame and a literal endless library of immense talent you’ll have to witness for yourself. Vocally they brought Devon Parker on for 3 tracks, Ivan Neville, and Adam Lufkin although the meat of the album is primarily instrumental. A fact that is neither its strength or its weakness. It’s just mastered funky perfection emblazoned on record.

From the straight out horn stabs and Leslie keys of The Professor, the shuck and strut of She’s Somethin, and the bump and sway of Cadillac Sundays, Analog Son has something to bring to the table for every funk fan. If you’re a fan of the family tree of funk, they’ve got a monkey to swing from your branch.

Without a doubt, Analog Son took the time to do this debut album the right way and not since the debut album Emergency on Planet Earth from Jamiroquai have we witnessed it done so phenomenally well the first time out of the gate. It’s pretty undeniable that you’ll see more of Analog Son in the very near future and we’re stoked we were here to witness it.

Without a doubt, head to Amazon to snag a copy of Analog Son‘s debut album. We give this work of art 5 out of 5 afros.

5 out of 5 afros

 

Prince Gives Apollonia Private Concert

Posted by funkatop On June - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Apolollonia and Prince in Purple RainMany are wondering what will happen when Warner Brothers and Prince finally unveil the 30th Anniversary Edition of Purple Rain. While we wait on pins and needles during this, the official week of its release, one very important person of that era got a glimpse into that world. Apollonia.

On Saturday night, June 28th (technically 3am on June 29th), Prince had a super private party for Apollonia Kotero and this time around he didn’t make her jump into Lake Minnetonka. Instead, he set up a single solo chair, sat her down, and played her an 8 song set featuring himself and the 3 lovely ladies of 3rd Eye Girl, which included songs from the yet to be released Plectrum Electrum and other closet favorites such as Endorphinmachine, She’s Always In My Hair and others. They were even nice enough to provide us clips of the performance below.

Apollonia shared some of the details on her Facebook age indicating;

4:42 A.M. in Minneapolis , just had a private concert by Prince and 3rdEyeGirl at Paisley Park….Ida on Bass , Donna on Guitar and Hannah on Drums. They play loud and HARD. Heard new music that was dope! He had a cool chair for me on the stage at his side and I sat there transfixed on every note, every move, every vocal. After every song I yelled and clapped my ass off. It was so amazing it made me sweat. These ladies are so talented and beautiful. I was charmed. And Prince….my heart still skip’s a beat. Paisley Park is a fun place. He showed me all my images painted on the walls. “Hey thats me!!!” I said , he just laughed in that cool way he that does. The biggest room will be The Purple Rain room….he will have us painted there, huge murals. “My big head gonna be up there?” He just laughed and laughed.

All I can say is that if Prince wants to call me (Mr. Christopher) at 2am and ask me to fly from Atlanta to Minnesota to review his new material, I’ve already forewarned my wife that I would leave in a moments notice, so I have already attained spousal clearance for that specific occasion.

Congrats to Apollonia for yet another memorable moment in Prince history. We’re glad to see you out and about and embracing that past again. You’re part of a historic musical moment and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Review: Mike Zabrin – Funktastic

Posted by funkatop On June - 30 - 2014 3 COMMENTS
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SMike Zabrin Funktasticometimes you’ll hit a dry spell where it seems like no one is putting out any new funk music and then there’s a sudden deluge of great material coming out from surprise locations. In this case, we had two amazing entries into the funk arena which we’ll simply just cross link once both reviews are finished because there’s so much to say about each one. Those entries are Analog Son and Mike Zabrin’s Funkatastic.

Mike Zabrin came to us via Funkatopia friend John Heintz from Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown fame. Mike Zabrin is all of 22 years old and is already considered a bass player phenom. And to have a debut album that comes out swinging like Funkatastic is a feat in itself, but Mike surrounded himself with some incredible musicians, producers and performers to create what we consider one of the best albums of the year.

The 11 track collection of songs is a perfectly blended journey of funk, jazz, acid jazz fusion, and pop elements. Imagine if you had the funk jazz flow of Jill Scott, pieces of the experimental foundation of Bilal, and funk elements of Parliament and threw them in a blender. The end result would be Mike Zabrin’s Funktastic.

The special guests throughout the album include Parliament Funkadelic’s Kendra Foster, the insanely soulful pipes of Sam Trump and Anthony Pavel, horns from Clifford Adams (Kool & The Gang and Sun Ra Arkestra), Michael Ray (Kool & The Gang), Greg Hollowell (Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band), Norwood Fisher (Fishbone), and tons more. What could have been a mish mash of unrelated song structures ends up being soul artistry.

The overall feel of Funktastic lends itself to the aforementioned laid back acid jazz fusion in the overall spirit of early Jill Scott meets Erykah Badu. Songs that you will love but that may never find a home on Top 40 radio. However, one minimalist track entitled You Can Count On Me might actually have a shot at position on the Top 40 charts. Vocalist WOGZ adds her Lorde like approach scatting “Me, Me, I’m the one that you should be with. Me, Me, I’m the one that you should sleep with.” which creates a sweet radio hook if we ever heard one. With its spacey riff and ska flair, it very well might serve as gateway point to the deeper, more intricate song treasures that the CD has to offer. Radio might actually play this song for the riff alone, but if you get the listener in the door, there’s no way that they’ll escape without becoming a fan of everything this collection offers.

The release has so much to offer that it makes it incredibly difficult to pick specific favorites. From the two opening tracks of (You Are) Extraordinary and Life (see video below) to the amazingly beautifully structured The Other Side with Kendra Foster and even the quirky vocal delivery of Fishbone’s Norwood Fisher on Fact Fiction, Funkatstic delivers a wide variety of flavors that will soothe the savage funk beast for those that have acid jazz leanings.

It’s borderline travesty to not mention every musician and performer on the album, because there’s not a weak track in the bunch. But it’s a much better justice to be able to unpeel the layers of this album yourself and pick your favorite from the treasure chest this CD offers. And one of your future favorite songs is on this album.

And of course, we couldn’t finish the review without drawing attention to the name on the CD, Mike Zabrin. In a world where it seems like talented bass players are falling out of cracks like grains of sand, Mike Zabrin is truly a stand out. While his fast finger work is worthy of noting, his ability to fall into the groove for the sake of the song is admirable. That a young 22 year old bassist can hold his own in a roller coaster jazz romp is one of the most impressive angles you can focus on. While the CD could have been “All about Mike”, it appears that the intentional focus was on the quality of the music and strength of the overall product and the end result was well worth that attention to detail.

Without a doubt, this is one of two must have CD’s so far in 2014. You can snag Funktastic on Amazon or iTunes for currently only $9 and you’d be hard pressed to find many releases better this year. We have no choice but to give it 5 out of 5 afros.

5 out of 5 afros

The Mothership Lands At The Smithsonian

Posted by funkatop On June - 11 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Parliament Funkadelic Mothership ConnectionWhen you ask someone to name a person who is integral in funk music, you’re pretty much going to hear the name George Clinton or Parliament or Funkadelic or Parliament Funkadelic and rightfully so.

George Clinton was instrumental in creating the theatrical performances to wrap the listener into the music and bring the sights to the sounds. The artistic display that made it impossible to take your eyes away from what was being unveiled in front of you.

One of the highlights of his funktastical journey is without a doubt, the Mothership. A large aluminum spaceship that made a grand appearance during the Mothership Connection days from the home planet of Chocolate City. A crescendo of sparks, smoke and lights that would descend upon the stage in all of its glory and signal the arrival of the funky beings that come to take us away.

And lucky for us, the Smithsonian now has a section of their museum dedicated to African American culture and has decided to reconstruct the Mothership as a distinct anchor of what they refer to as Musical Crossroads. Without a doubt, its impact is not only in black culture, but its impact in musical culture is undeniable.

The original Mothership was sold back in 1983 for cash to make ends meet during their ongoing label squabbles and discrepancies. But the clone was recreated in the 90’s for certain Return of the Mothership shows which luckily found its way to Atlanta during its tenure.

Smithsonian has gone through painstaking detail to bring the clone back to its full beauty and has proven that they are “in it to win it” in regards to their sub-section dedicated to Musical Crossroads which is a permanent exhibit featuring the Mothership along with Funkatopia friends Mother’s Finest who spoke about their inclusion in our exclusive interview.

The Mothership has been being stored in George Clinton‘s studio in Tallahassee, FL and he wept when they removed it from his home to take the trip up to the Smithsonian display which is scheduled to open in 2016. While they were tears of joy, it was also a deeply emotional moment as they took away a part of his legacy. But there was solace in knowing that it would live on forever in history and treasured in a way that it truly deserves.

The good news is that it’s being reported by George that there will be yet another space vessel that will make an appearance at future Parliament Funkadelic shows, but this one will be a laser version that will take up a tad less of the stage and be a bit less wieldy to display. We will be front and center for that event.

For now, expect the Mothership Connection to connect with the imaginations for generations for years to come and if you were lucky enough to see it in action, you were very lucky indeed. We want to hear all about it.

Enjoy this quick video of them putting the Mothership back together for the Smithsonian appearance.

Why Prince Is King

Posted by funkatop On June - 9 - 2014 26 COMMENTS
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Prince and 3rd Eye Girl Paris Berlin Vienna 2014From an outsider, it sure looks like we’re spending an inordinate amount of time reporting on Prince and everything that he’s doing and in truth, you’d be right. We even have a page dedicated to Prince that covers tour dates, news, videos, and other tidbits. But what makes him so intriguing? How did he create such an indestructible persona and why does Funkatopia feel it necessary to be harsh sometimes? Let’s discuss.

To start, in my (Mr. Christopher) defense, I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. The first I heard Prince was the Controversy album. The first tour I saw was 1999 way back in the early 80’s as a young kid all of probably 14 or so. I was brought to see him by a friend of my mother’s and I had no idea what I was looking at. I like to brag about that being the first tour I had seen, but in truth my head was somewhere else at that time and I totally missed the significance of actually being present at that tour. But the travesty ends there as I would see pretty much every tour from there on out including Purple Rain 3 times at the Omni in Atlanta. And my stories of Prince encounters are vast, but designed for another time. I’m just setting the foundation for you of where this writer is coming from.

I have always loved how Prince keeps re-inventing himself and get asked why we cover Prince so much when he’s really not “funk”.  Prince has always been funky, but he would never attain a true funk branding because on every album there were always a plethora of songs that were far removed from funk. 1999 is undoubtedly his funkiest album if for no other reason that it had the fewest deviations from funk. Even Lady Cab Driver and Something In The Water was very funky. But any albums outside of that masterpiece have always had a lot of jaunts in various directions. Ronnie Talk To Russia, The Digital Garden, Darling Nikki, Guitar, Others Here With UsAnnie Christian, Calhoun SquareComputer Blue, and the list goes on and on.

And that’s what makes it difficult to pigeon hole Prince into any specific category. While he is a pop artist of sorts, those moments are infrequent in the grand scheme of his albums. The hits always seem to be surrounded on their respective albums with adventurous whatnot. Prince refuses to be tied down by categorization and the end result is what makes being a Prince fan so unassuming. You have no idea what territory each album will take you.

So how does he do it? What makes Prince so amazing and bulletproof from scorn or judgment? It doesn’t. His detractors are out there in force. But at the end of the day, it makes no difference what any of us will say. He surrounds himself with positive vibes at all times and completely envelopes himself with positivity to keep his creative juices flowing by leaving the negativity for everyone else to read. He simply has no desire to be interested in what any blogger or music critic may say.  As long as he stays true to himself and his artistry, it makes no difference what any of us think.

Prince 2013 tourI will admit that I’ve been harsh to him at times, but it’s not because I dislike something he’s done as much as a result of my frustration and not understanding why he’s doing what he’s doing. When in truth, not even I know the entire story.  It can be discouraging to be a Prince fan and never hear his new material on the radio and feeling like he’s doing the exact opposite of what can help to remedy that problem. But at the end of the day, even if I feel as if I’m bringing reality or levity into the scope of things, I’m just a blogger who doesn’t know the full breadth of information.  And that is by his design.  He is a master at creating that invisible blockade to keep people guessing.  It doesn’t change the fact that I will always be a Prince fan who, like you, yearns for the 80’s when his music was everywhere you turned your radio dial. When music was actually good. Real music by real musicians. Now forever pigeon holed as “old school”.

Clarity came as we helped to put together a great Prince Celebration with Wrecka Stow Productions in Atlanta in the coming weeks, it became painfully obvious that we could fill the entire 5 hours allocated for the party with just his hits and still not even scratch the surface. I knew that he was always writing and had more music that we could fathom, but it was truly in that moment that I quickly realized that the depth of his mastery is almost limitless.

Between his protege bands (Sheila E, The Time, Mazarati, etc.), the hits, the albums, the concerts, the fabled vault of music, the bootlegs, the jingles, songs for other artists you had no idea he was involved in, the side projects (3rd Eye Girl, NPGMadhouse, etc.), and the endless pool of remixes and varied versions of songs, the party could go on for a week solid at 24 hours a day and still not drain the pool of his music.

What probably makes me more bummed out than anything is knowing that at 45, even if I live to see 80, there will still be music of his that I don’t get a chance to hear even after I die. This is a man who will probably write more music and record more songs in the coming month than most artists will churn out in a decade.

He envelopes himself in music and the creative process 24/7. It’s been said that every room in Paisley Park is miked so that his genius is captured anywhere that he may be in the building. His focus is laser sharp and his process almost never stops. He surrounds himself with the best because anything else is just a waste of time.

Even if God forbid, he were to meet God today, there would be a never ending flow of posthumous music similar to what you’re experiencing with Jimi Hendrix.  The difference is that Prince has been non-stop writing and recording since the late 70’s. That’s creeping up on almost 40 years of non-stop creative flow. We have no idea what’s there and how vast the library may be, but you can guarantee that even if you were granted access to it and dedicated the rest of your life to listening to all of it, that you would be dead before you got to the end. And even if you somehow made it through, they would be whispering in your dead ear something like, “Dude, I totally forgot about that one private session with Miles Davis we recorded. Maybe next time? I’ll play it for you on the Boat“.

But Prince created the ultimate package. From the band mates he chose, to the clothes he created and wore, the way he wore his hair, and down to the amount of personal information that he let everyone know. He created enough mysticism about who he was, that there are still myths and stories that remain unanswered or confirmed.  He gave you multiple reasons to embrace him and just enough to question what you know.

Mr. Christopher's Office Wall

Mr. Christopher’s Office Wall

The only reason why we even do “less than positive” reviews is simply not to pander. Prince has enough websites, blogs, orgs, and proponents to do that. There’s simply no journalistic integrity in praising every note and song because there’s no honesty in that. In some form or fashion, people do have certain expectations. But even in that perspective, it doesn’t matter. There are no bad Prince albums. You simply either don’t get it or haven’t gotten it yet. The reality is that if a review is negative, it’s only because our expectations didn’t run parallel with what he gave us.

This is why Prince will always be King. His musical genius knows no bounds. He’s still actively selling out shows decades later even though people have no idea what to expect once he hits the stage. I couldn’t be more pleased to see his resurgence and to know that there are big things coming down the pike within the coming months and years.

While I have to do my due diligence in writing truthful perspectives and reviewing whatever he puts out for us to consume, there will never be a doubt that personally, Prince is a huge hero to me. I long for the day that I get a chance to interview him sans recorder, pen or paper. That’s the pinnacle. I can’t even begin to describe the influence he’s had on me as a performer, singer, and even down to how I listen to music. He continually sets the bar that no one can touch and even if he stopped now, it would be an unattainable goal for any artist to amass the depth of his artistry. And it’s one heck of a ride.

What makes Prince great for you?

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