Review: Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE


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
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12 thoughts on “Review: Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE

  1. I’ve been spinning it all morning, and I’m crushing on the second half of this album HARD. The Affirmation>Way Back Home couplet is just lovely. I’m not a huge fan of The Breakdown (especially the production…it’s really thin and tinny), nor am I digging This Could Be Us. But this is a dope record. My lil’ man still has some fire in that belly, for sure! Now…on to Plectrum Electrum.

    PS..Critics and civilians probably won’t dig this record, which is a shame. There’s nothing that sounds like a hit. But ‘Clouds’ is damn good.

  2. I agree with the person above. The second half of this album KILLS!

    Not particularly a fan of the first song or ‘The Gold Standard’ but everything else is good. ‘What It Feels Like’ and ‘Time’ (OMG I love ‘Time’) are probably a couple of my favorite joints on here. I also love all of the ‘affirmation’ tracks with the third one being the best.

    This is probably the easiest sitting of a Prince album yet. It’s no ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Sign O The Times’ or ‘Lovesexy’, but it’s a fun and bubbly record that led me right into ‘PLECTRUMELECTRUM’.

    I approve!

  3. At last….. What we’ve been
    waiting for so long finally hits us! And in a way that us Purple people love so much. According to me this is a fabulous album!
    He’s got his funk back in line… Just listen to ‘FunknRoll’,simply fantastic and funkalicious!
    Of course His ballad making talent is all over the place to.
    I love ‘This could be us’ because it reminds me of Ínternational Lover’.
    Spin this record a few times and you’re hooked.
    As an all time Prince fan i have to say this one’s a keeper! Classic Prince!
    Looking forward to PlectrumElectrum!

    Peace! And b wild!

  4. The album is very very good. Belgian critics are practically all ravin’ the album, PE gets a little less positive respons. Love the album AOA and PE. Prince is back from never gone away.

  5. I totally surrender. This album is perfection in it’s best sense. This music makes every cell in my body come alive. Prince will stay in the music history while many of every so called pop star today is long forgotten.

  6. I’m totally hooked on this album, there are so many great tracks on both albums’ Plectrumelectrum being the other. I’ve been listening to them on some really good headphones and I notice something new each time. The skills of Prince has no boundaries. It’s also great to hear such talents as Lianne La Havas, Andy Allo plus others also making an appearance. Prince seems to have a good rapport with all ages and choosing to work with such a young group of people in production is just pure genius! I hope he’s really happy, it certainly seems like he is.

  7. Prince has finally created a cohesive concept record and it totally works. “U Know” and “What it feels like” are instant classics, while “Time” and “Clouds” continue to grow on me. I am a little disappointed that the Rita Ora mix of “Gold Standard” didn’t make it on the album. It is far better than the version Prince gave us. But hey, that is how he orbits. His planet. Sometimes he takes our hand and lets us come along for the ride. If Warners can promote the right tunes, Prince can finally make it back to radio. Fingers crosssed

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