Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prince - Lotusflow3r

With an $11.98 price tag, Prince's Target-exclusive, three-disc set is a steal. I must admit, as someone who had only listened to and purchased singles by Prince and never an entire album, I was curious to see if the experience would live up to the hype. He has, afterall, long been hailed by many fans and critics as a "musical genius."
The first in the trio of discs is the 10-track debut album by Prince's newest protégé, Bria Valente. As the album artwork shows, Valente certainly has the looks one would expect in a Prince protégé, but she seems destined to fade back into obscurity as quickly as most of those women have in the past. Valente has a pleasant singing voice, but Elix3r's smooth, bland R&B tracks slide one into the next without ever catching your attention. The music isn't offensive to the ears, but it's also completely forgettable, unlike the next disc in the set.

Prince's Lotus Flow3r is definitely the strongest album of the three. The guitar-heavy tracks cover a range of styles and subject matter and have kept my interest all the way through the album every time I listen to it. From the deliciously funky grooves of "Boom" and "Dreamer" to the retro flashback of "Crimson and Clover" (spiced up with a touch of "Wild Thing") and the smooth, sweet ballad titled "4Ever," Prince gives us quality track after quality track on this album. My personal favorite, along with "Crimson and Clover," is "Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful." This jam is so unmistakably James Brown-inspired that you can see the late Brown dancing across the stage in your mind throughout the whole track, but Prince is the artist getting the cape thrown across his shoulders when the song ends.

MPLSoUND, the last disc in the set, opens strong with "(There'll Never B) Another Like Me," which has that familiar, confident, sexy Prince swagger, even as the singer's born-again roots show when he tells us he "can't stand nobody cursing at me/when I'm clean."
Prince can't stop being Prince though -- his sexy lyrical come-ons start in Lotus Flow3r, but really kick into gear in MPLSoUND, which has a much more of retro, classic Prince sound and attitude. "Chocolate Box" and "Dance 4 Me" are perfect examples of this, along with "Valentina," the artist's enticing ode/invitation to actress (and mother of a baby girl named Valentina) Salma Hayek. What keeps MPLSoUND from being the strongest album of the three are the ballads, which bring the mood of the album to a grinding halt and very quickly make you want to skip to the next track.

Overall, the three-disc set is definitely worth $11.98 and a trip to Target. Prince fans seem to agree-- Lotus Flow3r/MPLSoUND/Elix3r debuted at #2 on The Billboard 200, and at #1 on both the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Independent Albums charts.

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