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we got mail!

Surely we can all agree on this:
Prince is influenced by himself

Dear tripewriter,

Hey yo, I finally got to listen to Musicology and I must disagree with you. I really enjoyed a majority of the songs and I found it to be one of the most listenable CDs I've heard this past year (the only other I like as much is Alicia Keys).

Since I shopped at the "Very Best Buy" (borrowing it from my buddy – and let's face it, is anything better than free?), I can't stop listening to the CD. I like the fact that the little guy has incorporated, and stolen from, earlier music influences. What is so great is that he has been influenced by himself. It reminds me so much of what he has recorded in the past.

I have heard critics bitch that this CD sounds "old," unlike Alicia Keys's, which sounds "old school." I say that there is nothing wrong with sounding old because it has a place in my collection, too. I have been using the analogy that it's the difference between a new throwback jersey and a Trailblazers' jersey worn and autographed by Bill Walton. One is new and pristine and the other is, well, original.

Prince seems to effortlessly transition from a salute to classic soul, to a salute to his own classics, to songs with sociopolitical leanings and all while remaining totally funky. The boy is BAD!! A lot of Musicology reminds me of earlier stuff, but since it's HIS earlier stuff, I didn't mind. Too many people are "borrowing" from others. I admire artists who don't need to look to other songbooks to find new sounds (I will admit that he hasn't totally stuck to his own stuff, as one of the songs kind of reminded me of Hendrix, but hasn't Prince always done that?).

People have been going ape shit over OutKast's recent CD and, to tell the truth, since I bought it last year I've listed to the whole thing maybe twice. This is what I mean about listenability. I'm sure it's good but I find it uneven. I found that the music reminded me of Isaac Hayes; Earth, Wind and Fire; Stevie Wonder and, yes, his Purple Badness, too. Something fresh and new shouldn't remind me of so many different people. It seems as if they made a CD of everything they had listened to since they were teen-agers. Their music isn't new or original. What is new is their audience. Other than being the voice of Cook on "South Park," most of these kids probably never heard of Isaac Hayes or his music. As far as Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder, I'm pretty sure these kids aren't looking to them as reference points in OutKast songs.

But can you believe the "International Lover" is lamenting about being "On the Couch" alone? He's matured, found a new religion (though his music, even at its most sexual, has always been based on his belief of the spiritual), and seemed to find a conscience when it comes to sex. "Oh, come on, baby it's undignified 2 sleep alone." Prince? Begging to get back in his bedroom for some monogamous sex? Unheard of!! I mean, he has begged before, but it was always in an effort to do something freaky ("If I was Your Girlfriend" springs to mind).

It's rare that an artist concerns himself with what's going on in the world (with songs like "Cinnamon Girl" and "Dear Mr. Man"), yet still realizes that it's just as important to be the "Life 'O' the Party."

Stephen Holmes
Vauxhall, N.J.

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