Wax Poetics Issue 50 • Prince b/w Frank Ocean
Behind the Purple Ropes
Having gained heavyweight status as James Brown’s tour manager, Alan Leeds was brought on midway through Prince’s 1999 tour as a freelance replacement. But after finding his niche within the sometimes peculiar Prince entourage, Alan and his now wife Gwen moved to Minneapolis to work for the artist full time. Little did they know, they were about to witness some of the greatest years in the history of popular music as Prince and the Revolution busted out with the groundbreaking album and film Purple Rain.
After focusing on a songwriting career, Frank Ocean switched his sights to singing for the masses. His free download album, Nostalgia, Ultra, became an instant Internet sensation for its personal, thoughtful take on modern R&B. Now Frank finds himself in a unique position of calling the shots and taking his time on his forthcoming major-label debut.
Witness to the Funk
From Sly and the Family Stone to his own band Graham Central Station, master funk bassist and singer Larry Graham single-handedly revolutionized the instrument while influencing many musical genres and countless musicians. A chance invitation to jam with disciple Prince has led to the formation of a deep spiritual bond that goes beyond music and into their relentless pursuit of the Truth.
Morris Day is an icon of the Minneapolis-drenched sound of ’80s R&B. Beginning his career as a talented drummer but winding up as the front man for the Time, Day was an important piece in the Prince puzzle and worked hard to create a bigger-than-life persona that still resonates to this day. Eventually rising from the shadow of the Purple One, Day was able to establish himself as a shining star in his own right.
Guitarist Jesse Johnson was an instrumental part of the Time, crafting some of their most well-known songs before departing on a solo career. While continuing to collaborate with idols like Sly Stone or jam with protégés like D’Angelo, Johnson charts new territory while staking a claim to the Minneapolis funk-rock sound that Prince and his affiliates created.
Prince and reed man Eric Leeds teamed up to create two albums under the moniker Madhouse. Perhaps looking to exorcise jazz demons inherited from his father, Prince masterminded a lighthearted and funky sound that anticipated the “acid jazz” genre that would break years later.
33 Reasons Why Prince Is Hip-Hop
Questlove is a drummer, a tweeter, a political provocateur, a music encyclopedia, a founding member of hip-hop royalty the Roots, the bandleader of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and a Prince fanatic. Take a journey through his mind as he argues thirty-three reasons why Prince is “hip-hop.”
Chaz Bundick began his journey as Toro y Moi creating shoegazing bedroom electro. But by getting back to basics and playing his instruments live, he has opened a doorway into lush and melodic R&B grooves, transcending any previously ascribed tags.
Blood Orange is the newest moniker of prolific producer and multi-instrumentalist Devonté Hynes. After making a mark with the garage band Test Icicles and his folk alter ego Lightspeed Champion, Hynes has finally hit his groove, crafting a hallucinatory, yet highly personal, glimpse of the future of R&B.
MC and producer DJ Quik emerged in the late-1980s as a versatile and prolifc hip-hop force from Compton, California. Having shaped the sound of West Coast rap with his rubber-band-funk-laced beats, Quik picks from a broad spectrum of music that has informed his scientific approach to music.
La Cosa Nostra
Members of Prince’s mid-’80s spin-off project, the Family, have reunited under the guise of fDeluxe.
André Cymone and Prince bonded over music in high school and quickly formed the band Grand Central. From André’s parents’ basement, André and Prince competitively engaged in all-night jam sessions that would plant the seeds for the funk/ rock/pop style that would soon be recognized as “the Minneapolis sound.”
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