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ISSUE 117 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/7/2004

Melodic science

By Rumor Has It
News Editor


Friday, May 7, 2004

Within the first 30 seconds of Prince's newest album, the transgressions of nearly a decade of mediocrity are absolved as Prince, the artist formerly known as the Symbol, utters the words we never thought wed hear him say again: "Mm, Funky!"

Musicology, both the album and the title song, are renaissance Prince, the likes of which no one's seen since the Reagan administration. Prince himself acknowledges that it has been a while since he's truly released a substantial record, but he admonishes us for ever doubting him, screaming, Don't you dare touch that radio dial!

True, the 90s weren't exactly a classic period for Prince and, aside from several mildly successful albums at the beginning of the decade, he's been well below the radar. Fortunately for Prince, he is truly one of those enigmatic figures in music. He's a one-name man, one often mentioned alongside Madonna or Sting -- he's just that important to the evolution of pop and R & B. Musicology is a return to form -- and a welcome one at that.

While he doesn't make any major leaps forward with the album, Prince rediscovers what made him so listener-friendly and fun back in his 80s hey-day: making exciting, rhythmically challenging and accessible pop funk that is as timeless as it is hip.

The big twist on Musicology is a new and decidedly more PG-13 attitude. Gone are sexually charged odes like Pussy Control, Call My Name or If Eye Was The Man In Ur Life. Prince, like so many formerly wild superstars, has finally settled down. He's a Jehovah's Witness now, and a happily married man; the songs in Musicology all seem to reflect this newfound outlook on life.

While many of us may have conceptions of Prince as the man who sang Little Red Corvette or When Doves Cry, Prince today is a man both tied to his past and liberated by it. Musicology is a record of past and future, and really, of rebirth.

Despite a relatively short track listing, Musicology is a solid record, easily outclassing most new R&B in the scene today. The album also brings about the major revelation that Prince, now a 45 year-old man, will never again make a genre-bending masterpiece like Sign O' The Times or a chart topping smash like Purple Rain.

But really, it is not fair of the musical public to expect that of him. With so much disposable music coming out today, it is easy to get nostalgic about the glory period of our favorite artists of the past. For Prince, Musicology is an expression of that nostalgia. On the title track, Prince asks, "Don't you miss the feeling music gave you, back in the day?" If this new album is any indication, Prince doesn't want anyone to forget where he came from, or that he's still around.





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