funk music

Friday, October 24, 2014

Prince & Chris Rock to Hit SNL

Posted by funkatop On October - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Chris Rock and Prince on SNL

Prince just announced via Twitter that His Purple Majesty and Chris Rock will be appearing on Saturday Night Live on November 1, 2014.

The tease came days before that a special announcement was coming, but most thought that tour information was certain to be the breaking news since the public had been informed that tour dates were to be released shortly as leaked by Warner Brothers.

While it’s unfortunate that there aren’t any tour dates announced, this does set the stage for the jump start of live performances, so set your DVR’s or watch it live on NBC on November 1!

Replay: Prince’s Livestream Event

Posted by funkatop On October - 1 - 2014 5 COMMENTS
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3rd Eye Girl interview

On 9/30/2014 at 10:30 EST, Prince and 3rd Eye Girl did an album release party online at Yahoo Livestream to celebrate the release of PLECTRUMELECTRUM and Art Official Age.  The show was hosted by Maya and was primarily a walk through of Paisley Park, discussions with various members of the Paisley Park team (Joshua Welton, Trevor Guy, etc.), and brief concert performances.

One interview with Joshua Welton featured a few snippets of songs they were in the process of finishing up and also a new song by Rita Ora that Prince was involved in (as was Joshua).  There were discussions that they are already in the process of putting together a new album even on the eve of official releases of these two albums. Nice!

The hostess known by some as “Shamelss Maya” is easy on the eyes, but it certainly did not feel as if she prepared for the event. This is our only real apprehension with the event. Luckily some of her more “I’m in over my head” moments appeared to be removed from the replay.  The event itself was a great walkthrough of Paisley Park, but the hosting duties seemed awkward at best.  Some of the worst would include her introducing Hannah Ford as “Joshua’s wife”.  Then she depended on the fans around 3rd Eye Girl in the room for the interview questions.  Then travesty moments such as not being able to identify artists such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, or Jimi Hendrix on the Prince mural or even Prince artists such as Sheila E, The Family, etc..  And referring to “Prince and the Power Generations.”  Umm…. ok.

The impromptu interview with Liv Warfield proved difficult as well at one point having to ask Liv Warfield who the band members of NPGQ were. And even though it’s not well known since NPGQ is a new project,  it’s important as an interviewer to be able to identify the major NPG artists like John  Blackwell and Marcus Anderson (who Maya introduced as Marcus Samuelson).  NPGQ played two songs that were separated by Maya‘s brief questionnaire with Liv Warfield.

A piece that caught our ear was during the 3rd Eye Girl interview portion where Hannah Ford was discussing the wardrobe and indicating that “This is the stuff that we’re excited to get to wear on tour.”  Followed by Maya saying, “Oh so this is what you’re going to wear when you tour.”  Both statements confirming that there is a 3rd Eye girl tour coming.

Then Prince and 3rd Eye Girl hit the stage to perform 3 songs including PRETZELYBODYLOGIC, What’s My Name (with Kendrick Lamar rapping over verse and chorus), a prerecorded play of Time, and then closing with the Sly & The Family Stone song called Thankful and Thoughful with a Liv Warfield and Prince duet.

You can still view the event replay here at https://screen.yahoo.com/live/event/prince if you missed it.  All in all, the ability to view the inside of Paisley Park is a treat in itself and the free online concert is always welcome. Let’s just bring in a host that’s a tad more prepared next time. And judging by social media, we weren’t the only ones who noticed.  We’re not complaining. Just simply noting the obvious. Prince fans have very high expectations and at times they can be vicious.  We’re just sayin.

But Yahoo did a fantastic job and it was a great event to be sure. Hopeully there will be more of these.  Yahoo! definitely proved themselves fully capable of handling the traffic waves.  Check it out yourself.

Prince and 3rd Eye Girl in concert - Yahoo Livestream

Review: 3rd Eye Girl – PLECTRUMELECTRUM

Posted by funkatop On September - 29 - 2014 2 COMMENTS
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Plectrum Electrum coverPrince releases a rock and roll album with the help of 3 amazing ladies.

Far be it from us to wonder why Prince ever does the things that he does. We’ve been pretty harsh critics in the past about his marketing decisions and other strange choice he’s made. But in the midst of those critiques are simply hard core Prince fans that, like you, are frustrated that this amazing talent gets ignored by radio and simply refuses to play nice with the powers that be that can change that.

And in that spirit, PLECTRUMELECTRUM will not change that trend. Nothing radio friendly here. Just flat out awesome songs perfectly blended and laid out to wow his fans without a care about whether or not it will be embraced by mass media. Because in the end, who really cares what they think?

On PLECTRUMELECTRUM, Prince joins forces with three amazing female counterparts to dish out a fist to the face blast of raw rock and roll and the end result is pretty frigging awesome. There isn’t any heavy handed production here which just lets the music speak for itself and it does a great job at keeping everything balanced and out front. No matter which band member you’re a fan of, you’ll hear them crisp and clear.

The band consists of Prince on lead vocals and guitar, Ida Nielsen on bass (pronounced ‘eeda’), Hannah Ford on drums and vocals, and Donna Grantis on guitar. And while Prince has always had a penchant for female artists, this is one of the first times that he really went all out to construct a full female backing band that not only brought the “pretty quotient”, but all of which were also masters of their instruments.

Donna Grantis delivers a raw energy on guitar that takes us back to Bambi days. Her chops are tight and loud giving Prince the backseat, which is probably by his design. Ida Neilson‘s thump bass delivery keeps the rock feel driving that defines the sound as more of a Ford Mustang and less of a Porsche, which is exactly what you want in an all out rock band. Then rounding it out is Hannah Ford on drums who not only knows how to be a masterful time keeper, but she doesn’t overplay and she’s also a great vocalist to boot.

The 12 track album is filled with primarily rock songs starting with a mid-tempo barn burner called WOW that flows in and out of rowdy controlled raucous into a soft flowing bluesy styled romp. That’s followed by PRETZELBODYLOGIC which was one of the early sneak peek releases delivering a boot stomping hard rock head bounce.

Next up is AINTTURNINROUND which is the first appearance of Hannah Ford on vocals and her Pat Benatar rock singing chops. There is only one instrumental in the bunch and that would be the title track PLECTRUMELECTRUM, which blends a Zeppelin rock-blues formula with a dash of Mother’s Finest and one cup of Black Crowes style for good measure.

Hannah Ford then takes the mike again to deliver a softer side and churns out the song WHITECAPS which really showcases her vocal talent and puts her in the same vocal arena as Andy Allo and Elisa Fiorillo Dease. Prince was truly wise to let her shine on this album which will serve her well in the future. We can definitely foresee solo albums coming out of the Park in the not so distant future.

FIXURLIFEUP was one of the first 3rd Eye Girl tracks released into the public and it uses the same great ebb and flow rock formula that many rock artists are drawn to, but it’s done seamlessly well here.

3rd-eye-girlOne of the standout tracks (of which there are actually many) is BOYTROUBLE which features rappers Lizzo and Sophia Eris. Even though PLECTRUMELECTRUM has a good bit of bluesy-funk throughout, BOYTROUBLE is technically the first dose of actual funk on the album which is made even more funky by the the whoeww whoeww instrument effect made infamous on the Madhouse 8 album on the song 2.

STOPTHISTRAIN (featuring Hannah on vocals again) and TICTACTOE are mid-tempo romps that are the album’s lightest and most pop-sensible moments.  And while there always appears to be on on each of his releases, TICTACTOE is the over-popped song where Prince unleashes his musical theatrics (think Rainbow Children‘s Wedding Feast) which mutate the song into sounding as if it were stripped from a musical, although the song structure manages to keep it from going off the rails. Those songs are split up by ANOTHERLOVE which starts off in a slower kilter, which then rocks out of control towards its last half.

Among the last two songs is MARZ which brings back that loose, raw rock sound, but only clocks in under 2 minutes. Then FUNKNROLL closes out the album and at the start, the track begins exactly the same as the FUNKNROLL featured on Art Official Age (see our review here), but then it quickly separates itself and settles into a rocked up version similar to what was unveiled at the Arsenio Hall show. While there are a lot of similarities, there are also a wealth of differences.

Overall, PLECTRUMELECTRUM is probably exactly what Prince intended for this release. A raucous rocker that showcases the talents of 3 lovely ladies and lets him appease his rock monster. We’re going to give this album 4-1/2 out of 5 afros and not because it doesn’t deserve 5, but there were some expectations set on song inclusions that didn’t happen such as Screwdriver, Octopus Heart, Live Out Loud, Menstrual Cycle, Groovy Potential, and some others that were teased out to the masses, but never came to fruition in the release.

For those that haven’t been suckling at every bit of information that was offered, you’re going to love everything PLECTRUMELECTRUM has to offer. For the hard core masses, this album is a phenomenal addition to the collection, but we were surprised at the omission of not just a couple songs, but a lot. The addition of which would have really made this album more definitive. That is the only reason this album loses a half an afro and an oversight that shouldn’t diminish the excellence of this album.

Here’s hoping we will see a lot more of the girls on the road, because this release is fantastic. It’s set to hit the streets on 9/30/2014, so get your butt over to iTunes or Amazon and Get It Now .

4-5afros

Review: Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE

Posted by funkatop On September - 26 - 2014 11 COMMENTS
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Prince - Art Official Age album coverPrince‘s new album ART OFFICIAL AGE hits the streets next week and it’s worth the wait.

It was important for us to make sure that we got a really good listen early as possible to Prince’s new album because there would be a lot of expectations from fans and curmudgeons alike. Let’s just say that having friends overseas who can help you get a preview of the album not set to hit the streets in the U.S. until next week on 9/30/2014 is definitely an advantage. And now that we’ve heard it, our pre-order of both albums can’t get to our mailboxes soon enough.

One of the primary differences with ART OFFICIAL AGE is not that Prince decided to stay true to his sound direction, but that it really feels like there was a very hands-on selection by Prince of what tunes would appear on this album. Gone are the concerns that he has lost touch with his fans and that he “doesn’t have it anymore.”  ART OFFICIAL AGE will set those critics on fire and running for the hills.

The songs are fantastically structured complete with a futuristic story where Prince has awoken from a state of suspended animation 45 years later and the world is a very different place. His guide is the lovely voice of Lianne La Havas whose seductive delivery helps lure Prince back into consciousness and provides an orientation of what he can expect, as well as how to adapt into this new world that he has found himself.  She offers him a variety of tips such as “there are no such words anymore like me or mine”.

This theme is woven together through a few songs of the 13 track album and done so masterfully well, that you only find yourself wanting to listen to it all over again once your journey has come to an end. Not only do the songs lend themselves to the story, but Prince has also unveiled a side we haven’t seen in quite some time. The side that incorporates a wealth of segues, dialogue, and sound effects into the song structures to insure that you’re always aware that you’re along for the ride and holding hands with Prince‘s still foggy state of mind.

If we had to categorize the album as a child of two previous albums, we would have to give parental rights to 3121 and Rainbow Children.  ART OFFICIAL AGE is both thematic and dramatic at the same time, but also filled with grooves that will please the palate of both the funk and dance crowd and still delivers the sultry smooth ballads that swoon the ladies and bob the heads of the grown folk.

The album starts with an introduction from Prince announcing “Welcome home class, you’ve come a long way.” on the opening ART OFFICIAL CAGE which jumps around like a fish out of water from funky guitar riffs that sound as if they were basted in Nile Rogers barbecue sauce and then into a club thumper realm.

The album then slides into the head bopping CLOUDS which has already seen a pre-release and helps to initiate the tone of the storyline. These steady paced groove lines make a few appearances on ART OFFICIAL AGE and help to give the overall feel of the album the aforementioned “grown folks music” categorization. Songs like WHAT IT FEELS LIKE, BREAKFAST CAN WAIT and TIME lend themselves to the same family of steady BPM’s that ride the fine line of slow jam and heady slide grooves.

But then songs like BREAKDOWN (also pre-released) and U KNOW adequately fill the slow jam quota, but these aren’t just disposable efforts. These are well thought out sway thrillers filled with love drenched vocals that raise your blood pressure and have you setting your driver seat in the recline position. Get a listen and you’ll start loving the “rewind” button. There’s a hidden joke there you won’t get until you get graced with this album.

For funk fanatics, AOA delivers on many fronts including the thick bass lines of THE GOLD STANDARD that shares the stage with Prince AND a taste here and there of a familiar friend from the past. Bob? Ain’t that a bitch?

Then of course there’s FUNKNROLL which we featured on Episode 7 of the Funkatopia Radio Show (because no other radio station will) which also helps us funk fanatics put a feather in our cap and just be glad that we were represented in his purple majesty’s latest offering.

Prince‘s alter ego Camille makes a few appearances, but the dramatic additions that seem like they were “bong induced” really add a spacey-ness to the flow and feel of this album. The closing bars of THE GOLD STANDARD and pieces throughout like the aforementioned “rewind” in U KNOW create a very overall hazy feel that makes you feel like you were dipped in a honey glaze.

The AFFIRMATION I and AFFIRMATION II excerpts simply add segues to the album to keep the theme flowing, but AFFIRMATION III is a true brilliant diamond in the mix with a beautiful closing piece of moody nuances and powerful self empowerment messages.

In all, ART OFFICIAL AGE delivers on all fronts. We just can’t give this album any less than 5 out of 5 afros and not because it’s a funk classic bringing to the altar a wealth of funk music offerings, but because anything less would be a travesty for this fantastic album.

We won’t pretend to believe that radio will pick up any of these tracks simply because terrestrial radio as we know it is dead and they can’t embrace anything they’re not spoon-fed. Luckily for Prince, We completely get this album and it was well worth the wait, even if technically we’re still waiting. Get this album if you can or pre-order it without hesitation.

ART OFFICIAL AGE gets our illustrious 5 star afro award.

5 out of 5 afros
Be sure to read the new review for 
PLECTRUMELECTRUM as well.

Audio: Listen to Funk NOW!

Posted by funkatop On September - 25 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Funkatopia founder Mr. Christopher has been quietly pushing out funk radio show broadcasts to the masses. Each broadcast consists of at least a half an hour or more of funk tunes and all of which are new tracks, rarities, bands you’ve probably never heard of, or classics that you missed.

Among the standouts are the Prince Protege broadcast that features bands closely tied to the Purple Majesty, which almost clocked at an hour broadcast and the brand new episode 7 featuring brand new songs from David Ryan Harris, Prince, and even unreleased tracks.

All of the episodes are filled with surprises, but most importantly great music. All episodes can be found on the Funk Radio page or on Funkatopia’s Soundcloud Page. Tune in now and get with it.

WIN TICKETS! Fly Free Fest 2014

Posted by funkatop On September - 25 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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Fly Free Fest 2014

The Fly Free Fest is a 3 day funk filled concert event filled with tons of great acts including artists and bands from all over the region like The Motet, Railroad Earth, Dan Deacon and tons more. A whopping 40+ bands will take the stage over the 3 day event and will take place in Lafayette, GA just south of Chattanooga, TN.

Tickets are a mere $110 ($125 at the gate) for all three days and gets you access to this amazing world full of great music and a spot to camp.  They also have VIP tickets that include meal and drink tickets, exclusive shower access and more.

But you can enter to win one of TWO pairs of tickets right now by picking up your cell phone and texting flyfree to 90210. Having issues with text messages? Head to the Funkatopia Facebook page and private message your name and number to get into the drawing or send via email to shout@funkatopia.com. Two names will be drawn on October 1, 2014 and winners contacted via phone that day!  Only enter if you can go!

Head to the Fly Free Fest website for all of the details on performers, camping instructions and more. We will see you there! Yes, we’ll be there.

Review: Lenny Kravitz – Strut

Posted by funkatop On September - 23 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
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TLenny Kravitz - Strut Reviewhe new album Strut from Lenny Kravitz seems like a culmination of raw rock and funk thrown into a blender.

The 12 track album (14 if you got the Bonus versions) is a collection of tunes that are rough and unfiltered. Gone are the squeaky clean production vibes of Circus, the droning high time vibes of Mama Said, Black and White America or even his album 5.

The two opening tracks of Sex and The Chamber sound like 80’s outtakes filled with the same glam-slam 80’s feel of lyrical delivery. The album literally sounds like it was a lost album from that generation. And that vibe raises its head frequently on this release to the point where it almost seems intentional.

There seems to be a much more forward sexuality and dirty feel that we just saw glimpses of in the past, but are full on hardcore man skinny jeans from front to back. There are no mixed messages here. Once you get past the time warp, Kravitz gets right back into raw rock stomps a la Fly Away with Dirty White Boots leading the way with its grungy lyrics (“take your knickers down and give me that treasure“). Boots is the leader of the string of songs that fill the rest of the album with horny song lyrics and very few exceptions.

Two songs in particular on the album will definitely find a home in the ASCAP search results are the tracks New York City which could be the Big Apples’s next anthem and Happy Birthday, which is sure to assault CD and MP3 players at a party near you.

Among the standouts are the title track Strut, Frankenstein (which sounds like the bastard son of Let Love Rule‘s Freedom Train), the Black Crowes sounding She’s a Beast, and the cover track of The MiraclesOoh Baby Baby which updates the tune with grittier instrumentation, but apparently dared not change much more.

And then there’s the bonus tracks which bring the most value to the album in our opinion. The awesome guitar riffed Sweet Gitchey Rose with heavy Led Zeppelin influences, and the grunge boppy Cant Stop Thinking Bout You.

So where does that leave us in totality with our feelings on this album? This is difficult. We are huge Lenny Kravitz fans. I stood huddled with 50-100 other people at The Cotton Club in Atlanta in the early 90’s during his Let Love Rule tour when the man next to me leaned over and said, “You will never see him in a club this small again.”. And I agreed. It seemed that on every album Lenny reinvented himself and while there were flashes of brilliance with every release, there was always a level of consistency in the quality. This derails this trend and seems downright different in an unsettling way. We just can’t put our finger on what it is.

There are some great moments on Strut including the title track, Dirty White BootsFrankenstein, and Sweet Gitchey Rose. But all of which are painfully on par with what you expect from Lenny at the bare minimum. Like continuations of the flash bangs of Are you Gonna Go My Way, and the raw Mr. Cab Driver sparks that keep flying this way and that.

His talent and delivery are intense, but there’s something here that seems like we’re looking at a puzzle that had some pieces left out. Maybe it’s one of those albums that insist on multiple listens to truly embrace what’s happening and maybe those awkward feelings are the subconscious identifying great songs.

But for now, we have to give it 3 out of 5 afros until we can wrap out heads around what he’s doing to our psyche and sensibilities. Pick up Strut where ever you buy tunes.

3 out of 5 afros

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.

Prince & Chris Rock to Hit SNL

Prince just announced via Twitter that His Purple Majesty and Chris Rock will be appearing on Saturday Night Live on […]

Replay: Prince’s Livestream Event

On 9/30/2014 at 10:30 EST, Prince and 3rd Eye Girl did an album release party online at Yahoo Livestream to celebrate […]

Review: 3rd Eye Girl – PLECTRUMELECTRUM

Prince releases a rock and roll album with the help of 3 amazing ladies. Far be it from us to […]

Review: Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE

Prince‘s new album ART OFFICIAL AGE hits the streets next week and it’s worth the wait. It was important for […]