Too criticial? 3121 says different.

I’m really not liking the way I’m posting today.

Someone started a thread on whether Rainbow Children/Musicology/3121 was the best of the three. I’ve been standing behind Musicology all the way… but I’ve been so hard on Prince. I must have said “studio plastic” 10x today.

I don’t understand what went wrong. I had an instant connection wtih 3121 and I’m throwing that away because Musicology sounds more raw. Maybe I prefer Prince being more raw… I’m not really sure what I want. Don’t get me wrong, I love 99% of the two albums. But 3121 pales in comparison to the other albums I own.

I loved 3121 at first listen cuz I was familiar with 1/2 of the tracks. I’ve heard them live a couple of times, so I guess I was expecting something along those lines.

One of the things I really hate doing regarding Prince is being critical of his albums and songs. I don’t like saying that “I hate [fill in song title]”… because it meant all of the work he did on that particular track was for nothing becuz I can’t get into it. Luckily, he has a lot of listeners and they’ll like some of the same songs I can’t listen to. He’s been in the business for a long time, so he knows what he’s doing. I just hate criticizing his decisions and critiquing him, saying that he could have done this there.

Ultimately, it was his decision to make his albums the way they are, right? I respect his decisions because he makes albums like I’ve never heard before. I feel like I should just shut my mouth and let the man do his thing… this is one day when I hope that he isn’t looking over the posts I’ve written. I haven’t really pulled for him or showed much loyalty without being super criticial. But as a friend, I should have the right to be honest with him, right? 

Ok… so here I am changing my mind again. Here it goes. I just listened thru 3121. I couldn’t help it, though. I was heading back to my dorm and I couldn’t exactly change CD’s. I figured I’d put my player in random and listen to a few tracks from the album… turns out that I really didn’t hit random and it was playing the album from track 1 on. I found something really interesting, though. This album is deeper than I gave it credit 4 earlier today. Again, my apologies, Prince. [whenever I say something bad of him, I always feel the need to beg for his forgiveness when I realize my mistakes]

3121 has an interesting thing going on. It came off as an album of experimenting. With the first track, it starts out pretty routine. A track about a “party” to invite you into the magic the album holds within it. I can just picture Prince messing around in the studio with that song, adding all kinds of different sounds and different versions of his own voice. It kinda shows how far he’s come… and I totally dig the guitar solo at the end.

Lolita, one of the track I dubbed “studio plastic”, came off differently to me. When I was listening to Prince’s voice, he actually sounded his age and I imagine him as he appears now at 48. I know, I’m being a hypocrite, I don’t believe in age when it comes to this guy, but the track shows it more than others. The dialogue and the tone of his voice pretty much points how old he is, especially compared to “Lolita”. Who knows if this is just Prince storytelling or if it was something that really happened to him? It’s a fun track, hearing him joke about this girl as he’s so much more mature and sophisticated than her. That same sophistication lasts to the next track, which remains my favorite due to the personal connection we have. I kept wondering which verses I’d sing to him and vice versa, it could very well work to either of our advantages. I call it a seductive track because Prince smooths me with his voice and tempts me to fall in love with him, which I do nearly every time.

Then he changes things up a notch. Black Sweat gives me the vibe that he’s experimenting with the sounds of today’s music and getting back in touch with the person he used to be (like in his mid-20’s from the 1999-Parade era)… I get a vibe from him that says he’s dropped 20 years from his current age. Black Sweat is a dance track. Incense & Candles is seductive, but tonite, I wasn’t going for it. I got the vibe that his mental age dropped back to his mid-20’s, especially with what he does with his voice and the rap he does… dude, that’s weak, haha (sorry I just wasn’t in the mood tonite). Love is where he goes all out, experimenting with all kinds of different sounds, from laser beams to record scratches… brings me back to 3121 earlier, with what he does. The words talk of a different matter, of course, but that same “younger Prince” vibe still remains. I still am crazy about the track, thu.

Then it’s back to full maturity and sophistication with Satisfied. I’m still not crazy about it, but I listen to it cuz it’s a great transitional song. Prince goes right back to the mature vibe I got from Lolita & Te Amo Corazon. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but still, it chills me out for the rest of the album. Fury holds an interesting theory for me. Could it possibly be connected to Lolita in any way? The two of them sound a little alike with the vibe I get. They’re both narratives, but Fury is just one verse after another with slightly diff. guitar solos each time… u gotta admit Prince, the track is a little weak.

The Word starts a two-parter “spiritual” journey, I guess you could say. Prince addresses his listener, trying to send them a message. Who’s to know what “The Word” really is… is it something spiritual or is it “sex”, plain and simple? Maybe a combination of the two? Him saying “c’mon let’s get saved,” and talking about “safeguarding against the forked tongue and the trechery of the wicked one” tell me its something spiritual/religious. It’s an intruging track and one of his best here. Beautiful, Loved & Blessed is a feel-good track that’s also good to chill with. I think that Prince is talking about himself, but my heart says that he wants me to feel the same about myself… TMBGITW was in my head b4 I started listening to the 3121 album, so obviously I’d make that connection. For feel-good value, it’s a good track, but kinda disappears among the others.

The Dance is a masterpiece where Prince is doing EVERYTHING. Experimenting any way he can, but this time with “real” instruments, piano, flute, strings, you name it. Not to mention the different versions he adds of his voice. It’s a long narrative, but it showcases his personality in so many ways. I can only wonder if, like Lolita, it talks of something that happened to him personally or its just him storytelling? I get the feeling that it has to be autobiographical in some way…

Get on the Boat closes out the album pretty good, but it’s kinda hard to pay attention to with all of the other stuff going on in the album. Prince sure picked a bunch of brilliant musicians to back him up, I doubt even he could do it all himself (yeah, I know, it’s crazy, but there are some things that even Prince can’t do). He certainly couldn’t have pulled it off as well. Sheila E’s percussion was awesome and the horns on behalf of Maceo… just make it all sound great. It’s a different take on 3121, it’s about joining the party, but with real instruments.

It’s interesting how the tracks connect to one another the way they do. His strongest points in the album are the sequencing of the tracks and determining the perfect length for each of them. Some were formulaic (Te Amo Corazon, Fury, The Word), but others were more spontaneous (Lolita, Love, The Dance)… each had their strong points. But it was cool how I find different sides of Prince in each of the different tracks. When it comes down to it, though, I enjoy the tracks more when he sounds like his age with that same level of sophistication I knew him for b4 my journey even began.

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