It’s been six years since audiences experienced the rating-breaking three-part mini-series, The New Edition Story. I still remember my excitement walking into an advance screening of Part 1 on a cold January night. One of my favorite scenes occurs in this part when a young Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins are supporting a pre-teen Bobby Brown in a talent show. The local Boston-based group, The Untouchables, is performing a cover of Philly soul group Blue Magic’s “Spell” before Bobby takes the stage. After hearing another cover version of the song in Michael Bivin’s documentary, The Hustle of 617 Biv, I decided to feature it for Slow Jam Saturday.
Second Listen Sunday: Prince, N-E-W-S
Prince had validated his legacy as that DUDE numerous times by the time his instrumental album N-E-W-S hit the NPG club on May 26th, 2003, before arriving in stores on July 29th, 2003. N-E-W-S was Prince’s twenty-seventh studio album and his second instrumental album. N-E-W-S was an acronym for North, East, West, and South. Never one to pigeonhole himself, N-E-W-S finds Prince dabbling heavily into jazz fusion.
Containing only four tracks that run fourteen minutes each, N-E-W-S is a very eccentric offering. I remember purchasing the album at the age of twenty-two, but I didn’t fully grasp the instrumentation. I would revisit the album again three years later, during my first deployment in the United States Air Force, as a coping mechanism. At the age of 41 and with everything going on with the Tyre Nichols video, I decided to play the album again to bring positive energy into my life.
Since there’s no actual singing on the record, the best way to describe this album is mood music. I’ve heard that the intent behind N-E-W-S was a jam session, and that’s the vibe I got. With “North,” I got a vibe of funk. “East” gave off cinematic vibes. “West” starts a bit as a ballad before going back into the funk, and the closing number, “South,” puts me in the mindset of wanting to 2 Step.
N-E-W-S isn’t for all tastes, but You will enjoy this project from Prince the musician and his band a lot more if you avoid expectations and simply take in the joy of hearing them play.
Final Grade: B
N-E-W-S is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
R&B fans were elated this past summer when R&B legend Raphael Saadiq announced he had reunited with Tony! Toni! Toné! for a fall tour. The tour kicked off this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, with twenty-five planned stops. I plan on attending the Oxon Hill, MD, stop this coming Monday.
The year was 1981, and a music legend in the making, Prince was slowly crafting his musical royalty legacy. Before releasing his fourth album, Controversy, Prince introduced the band The Time to the world with their self-titled debut album.