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"3121": Prince
by Michael Heyliger
There’s not much that can be said about
Prince that hasn’t been said already. Over the
course of a career that’s nearing it’s 30th
year, the Minneapolis native has wowed
music lovers everywhere with his daring
brand of funk, soul, pop, rock, blues and hip-
hop flavors. He just might be the single most
influential musician of the past 25 years.
That’s not to say his recent recorded output has been consistent.
Since the early Nineties, he has often played follower as opposed to
leader, resulting in some wildly inconsistent albums over the past few
years, culminating in 2001’s damn-near un-listenable “Rainbow
Children”. 2003 brought a reprieve, however. His “Musicology” album
featured some solid live-band funk, his world tour that year grossed
millions, and Prince was once again in our good graces.

Which brings us to the present time, and “3121”, which is easily
Prince’s best album in a decade and a half. While his wild sexual
messages have been toned down seriously, this album is still
massively seductive. Prince’s genre hopping is once again on display,
as this album jumps from bare-bones funk to easygoing, jazz-spiced
soul, to poppy synthesizer jams and back without breaking a sweat.

“Black Sweat” is a minimalist dance jam that takes it back to the days
of “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry”, while “The Way” might just be the
funkiest call to religious conversion (Prince is now a Jehovah’s
Witness) in memory. He also gives us a guitar-laden Latin workout
with “Te Amo Corazon” and piles on the 1999-era keyboards with

Over the course of this album, he also introduces the latest in a long
line of female protégés, Tamar. The young singer holds her own with
Prince on the elegant “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed”, while the two
generate considerable heat on the slinky “Incense & Candles”.

While it’s doubtful that Prince will once again return to his “1999”/”
Purple Rain”/”Sign O’ The Times” heyday, “3121” is a reminder that
the little man from Minnesota is still a genius capable of cooking up
the tastiest of musical stews.

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