"Relaxing" really isn't the proper word, but it'll do to describe the latest release by the former Prince Rogers Nelson. What puts "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" somewhere in the neighborhood of relaxing is the fact that it's a Prince record -- in 1999 -- that demands as much intelligence, open-mindedness and playfulness from its audience as anything he might have done 20 years ago. But the music itself is not soothing. Though never unruly, the album pushes and shoves its way through the funk, from stripped-down drum machines to Prince's pungently funky, post-Hendrix guitar growling. As for overall expectations, Prince has once again failed to lower his.
Anachronistic as it may seem, Prince remains a musical auteur, an artist, preacher, pimp, producer, hype man and romantic who doesn't care about clichés like keeping it real, doing it for the community or trying to please fools who only take what's on offer.