In the past several years,Prince seems to have been concentrating more on the means by which to distribute his music than in actually releasing anything. Many,including myself,have seen this as a source of frustration. To paraphrase my blogging partner Rique? Any and all new Prince releases are seen,within the funk musician/admirer communities ,as being a major event. After all,just about every funky artist these days with a strong instrumental acumen site Prince as a primarily influence. With the majority of Prince’s music absent from YouTube,a Vevo video service showed up last year for him. It included one video to one song that,according to Amazon,features sleeve art picturing Dave Chappelle in his comic impression of Prince holding a place of pancakes. Very appropriate-especially considering the name of the song is “Breakfast Can Wait”.
It all starts off with what sounds like sizzling on a grill (a very funky sound effect,if I may say so myself) and goes into a drum kickoff after which a a fender rhodes starts into what is an intermingled blend of electric piano,phat popping slap bass lines which Prince revved up upon each refrain and a very steady variation of the stop-start drum machine pattern Prince helped pioneer over 30 years ago on the LINN. Lyrically he focuses on a similar metaphor that James Brown once used to describe musical ideas he wanted-“Pass The Peas” and so forth. Only this time,the focus is very much on a…very physical wake up call where Prince tells his lady lover “Grits and gravy,cheese eggs and jam/can nobody cook like you girl”. On the final refrain of the song,the melody slips into the minor chords a bit with Prince vocals having a modern variation of his late 80’s “chipmunked” vocal effect used as part of his Camille persona.
One of the things about this song that hit me right off is how immediately jazzy the groove is. Its very stripped down in classic Prince style. On the other hand,it explores a side of his musical spectrum that he doesn’t showcase all that often. I’ve always felt the jazz idiom and Prince’s persona went very well together as he musically matured. Wynton Marsalis once coined that the original meaning for jazz for him was procreation-a possible result of the sexuality Prince has always projected. However there’s also a profundity to that since Prince’s music is also always recreating itself-stretching one idea into another. And on this album? Prince’s renowned instrumental talents actually take on a similar direction as to the conceptualizations of The Roots’ Questlove-a jazzy live instrumental hip-hop sound based strongly in funk. Since this showcases Prince’s realization that funk is a total bottom line of his entire musical concept? There’s strong signs some of his strongest grooves are still yet ahead of him.