Umvd Labels, 2006


REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane


Since his 1978 debut, Prince has been known for his eccentric and synthetic music production, layered R&B grooves, taboo lyrics, and his irresistible and instantly recognizable falsetto (see “Kiss”). 3121 finds the bad-boy pop-prodigy in regular form, although the edgy, sexualized words have subsided some since his more recent conversion to Jehovah’s Witness. Don’t let this frighten you; the absence of such content is hardly noticeable because the alternate lyrical quality, and of course, the music, are so damn good.

To say that Prince has not experienced a high level of commercial success would be a lie, but one could argue that he has not, by a long shot, received the recognition that he so obviously deserves. This could be mostly due to his rather, shall we say, bizarre persona – like his officially changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in order to dodge record execs, not to mention his feminine, lipstick-wearing exterior. Girly or not, Prince is one of the last authentic pop performers, a performer and an entertainer to the very core. He writes, produces and plays almost every instrument on all of his records. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Following up 2003’s internationally acclaimed Musicology could not have been an easy task. Not hard because Prince has trouble writing pop tunes; he can write those in his sleep (in fact he will probably forget more songs then most will ever even hear.) But hard because Musicology was the first Prince record to come along in a while that appealed to more than the diehard fans. Not to worry, he has done it again; 3121 is, in many ways, even better.

Leave it to Prince to make religion…well…to make it sexy. This could be the great conversion pop record that religious groups have longed for. In the current state of Christian pop, where embarrassing mediocrity is the level of expectation, 3121 is proof that just because you’re singing about God doesn’t mean the music has to suck. “The Word” is a magnificently crafted groove piece meant to spread, just what the title says, The Word.

And if the songs about God seem too much, then there are the classic, identifiably “Prince” tunes splattered all over the record. The first single, “Black Sweat” is for sure the best song on the album. Its complete and total perfection means that there are no excuses for an artist growing old and turning into complete shit – if the older you get, the worse your craft gets, then you just don’t got it. Prince has got it. “Lolita,” “Fury,” the title track, and the earth shattering closing number “Get On The Boat” are easily some of the best of his career, a career that seems to be never-ending.

After well over twenty-five studio albums, and countless top-ten singles, 3121 is just another installment in the versatile library that is the Prince catalogue. He has created a sound that belongs to no one but him and he is a legendary writer and performer. This album is nearly flawless, especially when compared to anything else released in the commercial pop/R&B market over the last five years, and the proof is in the pudding: Prince is, hands down, the most gifted and talented artist making commercial music today, and therefore the REAL KING OF POP.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Kenny S. McGuane and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Umvd Labels, and is used for informational purposes only.