Release Date: 11.09.99
Record label: BMG / Arista
Names Aside, the Prince is a King
by: briana houlihan
"Prince" by any other name still sounds as sweet. His latest album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, an Arista recording, is yet another testament to his longevity in the music industry and his incredible talent. Perhaps I am biased because I am a huge fan - but it is impossible to deny the influence "The Artist" has had on the evolution of music genres from rock to rhythm and blues. Only the best has been expected from the genius who made popular the song that became a national anthem this year. Yes the irrevocable "1999," clearly demonstrates that "The Artist" was creatively ahead of his time. Staying power is the name of the game in the music business, and he is a master. Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic manages to appease fans' craving for "The Artist's" infamous sexy sound, but also adds an evolutionary sound to "The Artist's" impressive repertoire. This album truly demonstrates the pure musical passion and depth of "The Artist" and is the most truthful presentation of his talents that I have come across. One of "The Artist's" best qualities is his ability to create music that vibes with current trends, but avoids becoming stale. "The Artist's" music always feels fresh and innovative, even when falling on the highly discerning ears of veteran fans. He will never be accused of selling out because he is far too independent and imaginative.
The radio single "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold", in addition to being a great dance song, combines unique instrumentals only "The Artist" can orchestrate. This song is set apart from the large number of dance and hip-hop hits that were churned out in droves this year with a style characteristic of "The Artist." The radios remix of this track impeccably blends "The Artist's" sensuous vocals with the bad girl brand of sexy only Ruff Ryder rap diva Eve can deliver. The combination is dynamic and sounds as if it was meant to be. "The Artist" has always chosen his collaborations carefully, and this remix does not disappoint. "The Artist" continues to create a sound that is unmistakably his own, and there isn't another musician out who can command the same kind of respect for truly mastering the art of sound and song.
The title track runs the gamut of "The Artist's" seemingly infinite talents. "The Artist's" signature guitar solos and uplifting shrieks continue to inspire and speak to young people trying to have a good time, and he does it as no other musician has or probably ever will. "The Artist" has always demonstrated his spirituality in his music, but his music is no less attracting to those fans who are just out to party and enjoy the feeling of his music. "The Artist" still gets down with the best of him, and his spiritual expression has not lessened the celebration of life and love paramount in his music. The track "Undisputed" blends incredible instrumental mastery with the vocal skills of "The Artist" and Chuck D, and demonstrates that there are new areas of music into which "The Artist" has expanded, and seems also to excel. "The Artist's" bid for independence from his previous record label has served him well. His managerie (SP) of musical abilities and his unchecked creativity shines throughout this album, bringing new sounds that evoke joy and celebration the art form.
"Hot Wit U" is a strong reminder - as if it is needed - that "The Artist" is the premiere sexual songwriter. Love and passion radiate from this track and the soft sensuality of "The Artist's" voice remains the quintessential aphrodisiac. "Tangerine" is an interesting combination of soothing drum and guitar rifts and the softer side of "The Artist's" versatile vocal prowess, which is every bit as formidable as his more edgy vocal style. The track "So Far, So Pleased" is the only disappointment on this album. The feeling of this track is pop, without the flair the supreme "Artist" usually brings to the table. Lyrical content is lacking on this track, and the composition does no justice to "The Artist's" myriad of musical abilities. However, "The Artist" comes back strong on the following track, "The Sun, The Moon, and Stars." This track shows that "The Artist" truly can compete with the best male vocalists from Barry White to Luther Vandross. "The Artist's" somewhat feminine cooing does nothing to diminish his ever present sex appeal, and is rounded out by his husky bass tones - once again a testament to his versatility.
The feel and look of this album is purely "The Artist." His autonomy is evidenced in every aspect, from production to cover design. The writing skills of "The Artist" are also showcased here - as always feelings are expressed without being hokey, and lessons are passed on without preaching. Perhaps no other musician has grown so much and lived so long under public scrutiny as this one. "The Artist" joins the ranks of performers such as Madonna and Tina Turner, who stand the test of time and are not afraid to evolve as musicians and as human beings in the public eye.
This is by no means a frivolous album, but "The Artist" has not lost his ability to simply make you groove in your seat, to make you feel the joy he emits through his music. The track "I Love U, but I Don't Trust U Anymore" is a beautiful song about sentiment, and how it feels to loose trust in someone you care deeply about. Again the writing is poignant, and speaks intelligently of universal emotions. The piano solo is subtle, but very touching. Overall this album is a great example of the diversity and evolution of a musician who has done so much to mold the music industry into what it is today. "The Artist" has not bought into the materialistic and commercial aspect of the music industry, but continues to have a strong influence of the purely creative side of the art form. He continues to stray from mainstream music trends and relies on pure talent to compose his music, which inevitably sets its own trend - one of excellence and expression from a musician who is unafraid to be true to his music first.