This is not Prince’s first rodeo in the realm of multi-disc album releases. He’s been doing this with albums with 4 discs, with Crystal Ball in the 90s, but all the way back as far as the ’87 with the critically-acclaimed 80s iconic Sign O’ The Times. In Art Official Age the artist, and the audience, have been transported to a futuristic age that doesn’t require time. The three “Affirmation” tracks on the album delve more into the ideology of this futuristic world. A twist that Prince has done with the album title is that the title when spelled out is Art Official Age, but when pronounced aloud is pronounced as Artificial Age. This antonym twist creates a very beautiful idea of this Artificial Age that he has created also being an Art Official Age that has a focus on art and creating any and everything that you want this age, and your life therein, to be. One would think that Prince’s references to metaphysical sex fits the them of the AOA, but it still feels like Prince’s outlet into his usual sexuality of the 80’s while maintaining his cleanness due to his Jehova’s Witness religious. It doesn’t really satisfy though. He needs that sexuality back. With as many other ways that other neo-soul singers that Prince has influenced over the years nuance towards sexuality in their songs I’m sure that he could find better ways to release that energy. I think God would still love him if he was doing him how he usually does. Isn’t that the kind of freedom that this Art Official Age is meant to usher in?
AOA is Prince with his classic Prince-isms updated with modern concepts and production. The production is crisp and very well done, as you would expect, but not as complex as you might expect from Prince. Many rappers could learn a lot about flow from Prince’s smooth rapping on “U Know”. “What It Feels Like” is really smooth, but seems like it never really gets started with itself. It’s composed of a pretty simple chord pressing groove that is as smooth as ice cream. Ironically, while I was listening to this album “Ballad of Dorothy Parker” from the Sign O’ The Times album mixed itself into my ears. “The Ballad” is a smooth track, but its drum lines really lifted the track off the ground. “What it feels like” could really use some of those catchy Prince drums. “This Could Be Us” is a great example of Prince being in conversation with the modern themes. It’s a great song playing off the common meme saying, but it ends with a great line that sums up the emotion of the phrase, “This could be us, but you keep playing. This could be us, but you ain’t got time for me no more.”
AOA is filled with smooth cuts, but whatever you do, for the love of everything good and musical please listen to “Breakfast Can Wait”, but not only the original song, but please do some digging to find the 5 remixes to the track. It was released by Prince with the visual of Dave Chappelle dressed as the classic “Charlie Murphy’s Real Hollywood Stories” skit from Chappelle’s Show. Prince outdid himself on those remixes. The song has 4 different breakfast themed mixes ex. Espresso, Honey, Buttermilk. The track was released as an EP with the extra mixes. I haven’t been able to find them on Spotify, but you may be able to find them on other music apps. They are available for purchase on iTunes and very well worth the purchase if you are a big Prince fan or not. They’re some of the most awesome works that he has put out recently.
Here’s a link to the video for “Breakfast Can Wait”
Prince’s all-girl band, 3RDEYEGIRL, puts together some really heavy grooves onPLECTRUMELECTRUM. The band presents more full-fleshed sounds than the mellow simplistic grooves of AOA. They sound like they’re having more fun with each other. Everyone knows Prince likes orgies.
“BOYTROUBLE” is fun, catchy, and reminiscent to The Purple One’s Vanity 6 days of the 80s. The track’s bass grooves on nicely and sprinkled with an Iggy-Azalea-esque rap verse by one of the band’s members. The verse was cool, not necessarily a “hip-hop” verse, but if Iggy were to use more inventive vocabulary like 3RDEYE’s rhyming, “I can sense your energy I’m giving you the tantrums, when you look into my eyes it’s just like you just seen a phantom” then maybe Iggy could get more props. Take notes Iggy.
“FIXURLIFEUP” was the first single off the album that sports good lyrics about life “Tell me how other people walk in the sun. While other people walk in the dark…You always get the dream that you deserve from what you value the most. You need to fix yo life up!!” Good fun. “ANOTHERLOVE” was my favorite on this album at first. It really pushes heavy and hard at near the end. “WHITECAPS” currently reigns as my favorite from this disc though. The song creates a great atmosphere. The female vocalists of the band are some real crooners, but they don’t seem to really show much vocal prowess with ranges and such. If they aren’t great singers, which I doubt knowing Prince’s musician choice caliber, they don’t draw attention to it. The female vocals of the album are enough to keep you satisfied. I still could have done with a “Nasty Girl” Vanity 6 type sexy track from the girls though. “TICTACTOE” starts off with drums reminiscent of “The Beautiful Ones” from the Purple Rain with Prince and the band questioning relationships and other things in a beautiful ambience groove “Like a bunch of blind people playing tic tac toe who knows where the zeros and x’s go?”
3RDEYEGIRL presents some good music and grooves, but could learn more from Prince’s previous long-time band the New Power Generation. Please look into Prince’s most recent 3 disc album LotusFlow3r which feature ridiculously heavy Hendrix style grooves and mean solos. I wanted more guitar solos, but alas the band is really awesome.
This is not Prince’s greatest work in the past years, but more than great in comparison to much of the music of today. It is dope for what it lacks in comparison to other trash albums lately. This solidifies Prince as a musical force to be acknowledged even amongst the many students of music that he influenced that are active in the music game nowadays. This album presents a refreshing and vibrant perspective, but if you’re not a Prince fan this album won’t make you a believer. Well it may wake you from your slumber, but it won’t send you to into the dance electric where you will find peace in The Afterworld. The music is good, really good, but not a testament of the musical eminence that is Prince Nelson.
Cop the albums. Listen to the albums. Pick a favorite. Tell your friends.
Rock on Purple People! Dance the dance electric!