2 Days In The Rave

Gene Geter

Ten years ago, the maxi-single to Prince’s soundtrack hit, “Batdance,” chanted the words, “Rave un2 the joy fantastic.” As The Artist plops on the large sofa, I mention this to him within his hotel suite at The New York Palace. “Someone’s been doing their homework,” he smiles. Dressed in his signature color, purple intertwined with black strips, alligator like yellow boots and a large circle earring in his right ear, The Artist looks ready for another surprise performance in a club downtown (for example, Tramps).

He says that “Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic,” the title track, was first recorded in 1988 at a time when he was going through good and bad experiences (such as Lovesexy album instead of The Black Album). The Artist’s definition of his new album means “praise” and “gift of knowledge.” As the 1982 album 1999, was the voice of a generation, Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic is the new voice.

 Wondering how Prince produced his new album, if Prince is dead mentally or no longer recording, The Artist explains it is a mindset, it’s the production of Prince or “the ideology of Prince.” How would Prince sing or play this part? Prince would not use a drum machine, he can play drums! “I hope to do an album of Jimi Hendrix’s stuff [with the ideology of Hendrix],” says The Artist. “It [the album] might be produced by him.” Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic (due in stores November 2nd) will also feature classic and hard to find instruments Prince once used on his debut album, For You.

He plays for me a snippet of the first single, “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” as well as its B-side, a remix named “Adam & Eve” (which features Ruff Ryders First Lady rapper, Eve). The beat is hard and the music is infectiously swelling to the ears. He looks at me to see if I like it. The single is a commercial hit but he says he does not pick up an instrument to make a hit. Around this point, a joke surfaces in which I tell The Artist, “you have a platinum hit here!” He gets a brief laugh from it. It’s all about the music, he explains. The Artist says he does not base his music on the standards of someone else.

He also made jokes about other writers who misquoted him and felt he was vulnerable about his career (such as New York Times’ September 12th interview). The Artist brings up how the writer says Carlos Santana is his idol. “I don’t like the word idol,” he reveals. “It means you’re placing someone over God.” Though he doesn’t have anything against Santana, he just appreciates his work. He humorously illustrates to me (twice) in the form of a karate kick how he feels about some writers misinterpreting him.

At his web site, www.love4oneanother.com, he has the power to list corrections to misquoted articles so he says, “some [writers] forget about the Internet. I can respond.” The Artist gets a bad representation of how he feels about things because he’s mentally deep and most people can’t open their mind to him completely. The Artist is anything but vulnerable. He’s confident, cocky, talkative and wild. He laughs freely and quickly moves his body in which you think you might get hit.

He adds that too many songs on the radio are negative such as TLC’s “No Scrubs” (his favorite group as he said at this year’s MTV Video Awards) and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.” He questions the song, “Don’t you want to pay your own bills?” The Artist is impressed with the vocal talent of Destiny’s Child member, Beyonce. “I would like to work with her,” he notes. “Some of the things she says is almost Arabic.” The Artist would also like to work with Sade if arranged, but record company’s courtesy becomes an issue and a money topic. Why does an artist have to be courtesy of blah blah records?

 He says, “If I work in the studio with Patti LaBelle, I shouldn’t have to get anyone’s permission or give them money. Did you know I can go to jail for not having a record company’s courtesy?” He laughs, “If I go to jail, I’m killing somebody!” His favorite track, “Baby Knows,” (which features singing and harmonica playing by Sheryl Crow) is about his “hangout friend” in New York who has nice, long legs. He wouldn’t say her name, but I think it’s MTV’s Ananda Lewis. The Artist says he loves the vibe of New York because he receives a respectful praise from people. He says it’s different in California. “I haven’t been in Los Angeles in a year because of the time I’ve been spending here,” he explains.

The deal between The Artist and Arista Records is similar to the defunct EMI Records deal with the three-CD set, Emancipation. “I didn’t know much about Clive Davis [president of Arista Records],” he reveals. His friend and business partner, L. Londell McMillan arranged a meeting. He knew they would get along because they both expressed the same feelings about the music industry and the ownership of the master recordings. Davis has a lot of respect for The Artist, coining him “a poet and a renaissance man.” There’s a feeling in the air from The Artist’s publicist and Arista that Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic is their precious little baby.

The next day, Arista Records introduces Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic at a special private listening party for the international media. In the auditorium of the Equitable Building, Clive Davis talks about the new album (which contains 16 songs and two hidden ones). Davis, after playing “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold,” says “this is a hit all around the world.” The audience (and guests Eric B., Ananda Lewis, who The Artist tries to get on stage to dance and Praz) applauds the sweet ballad. The new tunes pleases the crowd (along with Davis moving to many himself) such as the mind-blowing “Undisputed,” featuring Public Enemy’s Chuck D and the Foxy Brown-ish “Hot With U,” featuring Eve. “Pretty Man,” (with the sax of Maceo Parker) has the combined elements of The Time and James Brown.

Also, the album features collaborations with No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani (on “So Far, So Pleased") and Ani DiFranco on “I Love You But I Don’t Trust You Anymore.” The Artist plays with reggae on “The Sun, The Moon And The Stars” and emotionally explodes on “Man Of War.” Three songs, “Tangerine,” “Silly Game" and “Strange But True,” were not played but enviously mentioned. “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” comes on again. The real surprise, The Artist walks out and stands beside Davis. He receives a standing ovation, dressed in a red, Arabic-like getup. The Artist looks embarrassed.

Davis grabs his hand and lifts it up as if he won a contest or something. He takes the microphone and thanks everyone for coming in the hurricane-like weather (the last few days has been very windy and rainy because of Hurricane Floyd). He opens with a classic (now a Jordan Knight ballad), “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man.” Later, he moves into “The Ride,” some James Brown covers and endlessly grooves with his band (switching guitars and performing many solos). He gets some help from Deborah Cox, ?uestlove (from The Roots) and Angie Stone. He plays for an hour then thanks everyone for coming and walks off stage rear into darkness.