hip hop music

February 27, 2004

Prince on Leno: One Obsessive Fan's Review

I'm hard to please when it comes to Prince appearances but tonight's Jay Leno performance wasn't half bad. Goes to show the man is much better when he can stretch out on one song instead of rushing through a medley. Rhonda was really working it on bass, and that "Do the Tighten-Up" coda was on point. The Jam Master Jay shoutout is appreciated, though it was arguably within the context of an anti-hiphop manifesto.

But I still wish Prince would deliver some real, nasty, gritty, Movie Star/Housequake/Rebirth of the Flesh caliber funk in his live performances, instead of this funk-lite he keeps kicking. One problem is his latest drummer John Blackwell.. who is a big step up from his predecessor Kirk Johnson but always softens up the groove with that soft-hitting, showy, overly intricate Tower of Power-style drumming. Al Jackson and Ziggy Modeliste could probably hit the hi-hat 64 times in one bar, or twirl the drumstick around and catch it in their teeth if they wanted to, but they never felt the need to prove it cuz they knew that a funky drummer's job is just to find the groove, hit it hard and stay in the pocket.

Another thing is, though I hate to admit this, Prince has really never known what to do with horns. If you look over his career, there's only been one stretch where he successfully integrated horns into his show, and that was when he had Eric Leeds around to hook it up for him. Nowadays Prince's horn deficiency always rears its ugly head in concert, where (despite the frequent presence of Maceo Parker) the brass makes most funk numbers sound all bland and vegas-y, like they did for "Baby I'm a Star" at the Grammys.

The horns were better than usual tonight though, now that I watch it again. Can't really complain about this one actually, except for one thing: The first line of his new song goes "Heard about the party, just east of Harlem?" Uhh dude, there's nothing east of Harlem except a river. Have you ever even been to Harlem?? Doug E. Fresh is cringing right now.

Posted by jsmooth995 at February 27, 2004 4:47 AM

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