HOW LATE DO U HAVE 2BB4UR ABSENT?
Is a new George Clinton double disc really necessary? Like the Beach Boys, with their sunny innocence and orchestral vocal harmonies, Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic crew have minted a sonic signature--delectably vulgar funk dished with cartoonish hedonism--so thoroughly that fans neither want nor expect anything else. And unlike the Beach Boys, Clinton's P-Funk All Stars are still best capable of delivering those goods in concert.
But if "How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?," Clinton's first studio release in nine years, isn't vital, it's valuable, and not just because it's two CDs for the price of one. The added length enables Clinton to spend 15 minutes on something he can't do live--let Raquel Brussolo expound on the tragicomic existence of an exotic dancer on "I Can Dance," which gradually turns the refrain "Girl's got her future behind her" from a joke into a grim observation.
Another bonus is that Clinton's status as a funk demigod has lured an intriguing assortment of guest stars, chief among them Prince, whose lean, angular guitar riffs mesh well with Clinton's punny vocals on "Paradigm" (as in "brother, can you paradigm?").
Aside from Clinton, the featured star of the P-Funk ensemble is vocalist Belita Woods, who shines on a soul ballad, "More Than Words Can Say," reminiscent of the heyday of Otis Redding on the Stax label. Die-hard fans will pine for more "Maggot Brain"-style guitar rave-ups from Eddie Hazel. But there are a fistful of classic-sounding, funk-whomping anthems, including the opening ("Bounce 2 This") and closing ("Booty") tracks. Clinton may not be breaking any new ground here, but he's vigorously shaking it.
-- Britt Robson
THE MINSTREL SHOW
The buzz on this Durham, N.C., rap trio is that they're hip-hop's latest saviors, so proclaimed by "true school" aficionados who abhor the bullets and bling of today's rap lyrics and hunger for the complex collages of sound that were long ago replaced by a color-by-numbers production style.