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Thread started 10/16/19 7:12pm

controversy99

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Cultural gaps, international listeners

I wonder sometimes how cultural differences impact how people experience Prince songs. I'm thinking especially about cultural knowledge gaps, not anything bad, just gaps. Prince often references American cultural phenomena. I would think somebody in another country, particularly with English as a second language and only a slice of American culture on TV, would miss some of these messages.

Here's one:

Song "Deliverance"

Line "Can somebody say Katrina levees?"

Cultural gap, Australian, Peach & Black Podcast

Toejam says the lyric is about the hurricane and "He's obviously talking about some funding that isn't getting through or something."

Toejam is correct that it's about Hurricane Katrina. But as an American, who went to New Orleans to help in the reconstruction, I'm about 99.9% sure that Prince is talking about the levees that failed and unleashed more flood waters and not "levies" meaning taxes. It's a subtle difference, but there is something there. Failed levees are a painful piece of some African American's cultural memories. This goes back to the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River and the blues songs. (Btw, I think Toejam's reviews are generally awesome.)

A few others:

1. "Love Jones is on the tv again" in "On the Couch"
What is Love Jones and what does this song have to do with it?

2. "700 billion but my old neighborhood"

Why the number 700 billion?

3. "Same diet Missy went on" in "The Marrying Kind"
Do you know who Missy is? (I expect most do, but maybe not some.)

4. "Star Wars fly" in "Sign o the Times"
Why does he mention this movie title?

5. "Just to get her hair did" in "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance"
Do you know what he is giving a nod to with that particular grammar?

6. "Standing over there trying to be gangster, copping your favorite lean"
Why lean?

[Edited 10/16/19 19:21pm]

"Love & honesty, peace & harmony"
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Reply #1 posted 10/17/19 1:16am

jazzz

Great topic!

I’m from Holland, so I probably also missed some of Prince’s references to American cultural/political phenomena

But...

Star Wars > US missile defence shield from the 80’s?

Missy > Missy Elliot?
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Reply #2 posted 10/17/19 1:27am

darkroman

Star Wars isn't about the movie.

It's a reference to the fake missile defence system discussed during the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency at the time of the cold war between the USA and Russia.

The idea was to have lazer mounted satellites that would track and shoot down Russian nuclear missiles, during nuclear war...


''But if a night falls and a bomb falls
Will anybody see the dawn?''


Sadly, decades later it was found to be fake news with the intention to bluff the enemy.

cool



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Reply #3 posted 10/17/19 1:37am

toejam

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controversy99 said:

Cultural gap, Australian, Peach & Black Podcast

Toejam says the lyric is about the hurricane and "He's obviously talking about some funding that isn't getting through or something."
.

Toejam is correct that it's about Hurricane Katrina. But as an American, who went to New Orleans to help in the reconstruction, I'm about 99.9% sure that Prince is talking about the levees that failed and unleashed more flood waters and not "levies" meaning taxes. It's a subtle difference, but there is something there. Failed levees are a painful piece of some African American's cultural memories. This goes back to the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River and the blues songs.

.

Ah. There you go. I've learned my one new thing for the day. Thanks.

.

(Btw, I think Toejam's reviews are generally awesome.)

.

Oh, they most certainly are! lol cool
.
(thanks again)

Toejam @ Peach & Black Podcast: http://peachandblack.podbean.com
Toejam's band "Cheap Fakes": http://cheapfakes.com.au, http://www.facebook.com/cheapfakes
Toejam the solo artist: http://www.youtube.com/scottbignell
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Reply #4 posted 10/17/19 1:55am

TheEnglishGent

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controversy99 said:

I wonder sometimes how cultural differences impact how people experience Prince songs. I'm thinking especially about cultural knowledge gaps, not anything bad, just gaps. Prince often references American cultural phenomena. I would think somebody in another country, particularly with English as a second language and only a slice of American culture on TV, would miss some of these messages.

Here's one:

Song "Deliverance"

Line "Can somebody say Katrina levees?"

Cultural gap, Australian, Peach & Black Podcast

Toejam says the lyric is about the hurricane and "He's obviously talking about some funding that isn't getting through or something."

Toejam is correct that it's about Hurricane Katrina. But as an American, who went to New Orleans to help in the reconstruction, I'm about 99.9% sure that Prince is talking about the levees that failed and unleashed more flood waters and not "levies" meaning taxes. It's a subtle difference, but there is something there. Failed levees are a painful piece of some African American's cultural memories. This goes back to the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River and the blues songs. (Btw, I think Toejam's reviews are generally awesome.)

A few others:

1. "Love Jones is on the tv again" in "On the Couch"
What is Love Jones and what does this song have to do with it?

2. "700 billion but my old neighborhood"

Why the number 700 billion?

3. "Same diet Missy went on" in "The Marrying Kind"
Do you know who Missy is? (I expect most do, but maybe not some.)

4. "Star Wars fly" in "Sign o the Times"
Why does he mention this movie title?

5. "Just to get her hair did" in "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance"
Do you know what he is giving a nod to with that particular grammar?

6. "Standing over there trying to be gangster, copping your favorite lean"
Why lean?

[Edited 10/16/19 19:21pm]

Sometimes you need to look at the lyrics around what you're quoting.

Fat cats on Wall Street
They got a bailout
While somebody else got to wait
Seven hundred billion but my old neighborhood
Ain't nothing changed but the date

It refers to the bailout of the banks in 2008 after the financial crisis. The governemnt gave money to the banks to help them prevent collapsehttps://en.wikipedia.org/...ct_of_2008 . But the neighbourhood Prince grew up in is still poor and has received no funding from the government.



Love Jones is just a movie, it's on the TV while he's laying on the couch. https://www.imdb.com/titl...f_=nv_sr_1


Cop a lean : https://www.urbandictiona...20a%20lean

[Edited 10/17/19 1:56am]

RIP sad
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Reply #5 posted 10/17/19 4:47am

lust

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Other cultural differences.

Prince’s popularity in a more liberal Europe with his mid to late 80s albums that not only put off American listeners with the genre bending experimentation but the affect of the Lovesexy album cover in a more prudish America vs places like the Netherlands and Germany where people are always getting their kit off.

Queen suffered from this cultural difference when they released the “I want to break free” video.

That Prince could thrive in both markets, appealing to different groups with different sound and imagery is of course just another testament to his genius.
If the milk turns out to be sour, I aint the kinda pussy to drink it!
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Reply #6 posted 10/17/19 6:53am

TwiliteKid

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controversy99 said:

A few others:

1. "Love Jones is on the tv again" in "On the Couch"
What is Love Jones and what does this song have to do with it?


Love Jones is a movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/...nes_(film)

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Reply #7 posted 10/17/19 6:59am

Empress

I have one - Before the day I carried you through the Bridle Path door. This comes from Call My Name and it references the street and house him and Manuela lived in together in Toronto. The street is extremely upscale.

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Reply #8 posted 10/17/19 7:24am

PeggyO

Great topic: I am an American and some of Prince's lyrics are alien but really interesting to me as well. He was very fluent in "street" language which is not always known to the average mainstream American. Then you add double entrendre, innuendo, metaphor and it can be a real treasure hunt.

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Reply #9 posted 10/17/19 9:12am

laytonian

Empress said:

I have one - Before the day I carried you through the Bridle Path door. This comes from Call My Name and it references the street and house him and Manuela lived in together in Toronto. The street is extremely upscale.


....and many (not just internationals) interpret it as "Bridal Path".

Welcome to "the org", laytonian… come bathe with me.
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Reply #10 posted 10/17/19 9:18am

jdcxc

laytonian said:



Empress said:


I have one - Before the day I carried you through the Bridle Path door. This comes from Call My Name and it references the street and house him and Manuela lived in together in Toronto. The street is extremely upscale.




....and many (not just internationals) interpret it as "Bridal Path".



It had a double meaning for his new bride.
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Reply #11 posted 10/17/19 9:35am

Empress

laytonian said:

Empress said:

I have one - Before the day I carried you through the Bridle Path door. This comes from Call My Name and it references the street and house him and Manuela lived in together in Toronto. The street is extremely upscale.


....and many (not just internationals) interpret it as "Bridal Path".

Right! thumbs up!

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Reply #12 posted 10/17/19 8:42pm

controversy99

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toejam said:

controversy99 said:

Cultural gap, Australian, Peach & Black Podcast

Toejam says the lyric is about the hurricane and "He's obviously talking about some funding that isn't getting through or something."
.

Toejam is correct that it's about Hurricane Katrina. But as an American, who went to New Orleans to help in the reconstruction, I'm about 99.9% sure that Prince is talking about the levees that failed and unleashed more flood waters and not "levies" meaning taxes. It's a subtle difference, but there is something there. Failed levees are a painful piece of some African American's cultural memories. This goes back to the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River and the blues songs.

.

Ah. There you go. I've learned my one new thing for the day. Thanks.

.

(Btw, I think Toejam's reviews are generally awesome.)

.

Oh, they most certainly are! lol cool
.
(thanks again)

You're welcome!

One of things I like about your show is y'all sometimes mention that your understanding of a song might be a little different from what an American audience might understand or what a black audience might. One recent one, not a lyric but another cultural insight, was MC / Rob Esse trying to explain how Prince wanted the audience to clap on the 2 and 4, but MC said 1 and 3, and Captain was like, huh? I think you got that backward. biggrin

"Love & honesty, peace & harmony"
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Reply #13 posted 10/17/19 9:17pm

controversy99

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TheEnglishGent said:

Sometimes you need to look at the lyrics around what you're quoting.


Fat cats on Wall Street
They got a bailout
While somebody else got to wait
Seven hundred billion but my old neighborhood
Ain't nothing changed but the date

It refers to the bailout of the banks in 2008 after the financial crisis. The governemnt gave money to the banks to help them prevent collapsehttps://en.wikipedia.org/...ct_of_2008 . But the neighbourhood Prince grew up in is still poor and has received no funding from the government.



Love Jones is just a movie, it's on the TV while he's laying on the couch. https://www.imdb.com/titl...f_=nv_sr_1


Cop a lean : https://www.urbandictiona...20a%20lean

[Edited 10/17/19 1:56am]

Thanks for all the responses folks!

I probably should've beeen a little clearer in my original post. I picked quotes where I already know the meaning, and I'm wondering if folks of other cultutal backgrounds understand them. Instead I see some of you explaining them back to me, which is fine but not exactly what I looking for. lol

A better way to ask it might be, does anybody out there not know the meaning to some of those quotes?

"Love & honesty, peace & harmony"
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Reply #14 posted 10/17/19 9:34pm

lavendardrumma
chine

I think just about all of those are within the cultural awareness of people outside the states, to the extent that it even matters. A lot of lyrics are so cryptic anyway, or we made up our own for so many years.

I thougth this really was going to be about how certain eras of Prince seem to have more appeal outside the US.

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Reply #15 posted 10/18/19 3:24am

TheEnglishGent

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controversy99 said:

TheEnglishGent said:

Sometimes you need to look at the lyrics around what you're quoting.


Fat cats on Wall Street
They got a bailout
While somebody else got to wait
Seven hundred billion but my old neighborhood
Ain't nothing changed but the date

It refers to the bailout of the banks in 2008 after the financial crisis. The governemnt gave money to the banks to help them prevent collapsehttps://en.wikipedia.org/...ct_of_2008 . But the neighbourhood Prince grew up in is still poor and has received no funding from the government.



Love Jones is just a movie, it's on the TV while he's laying on the couch. https://www.imdb.com/titl...f_=nv_sr_1


Cop a lean : https://www.urbandictiona...20a%20lean

[Edited 10/17/19 1:56am]

Thanks for all the responses folks!

I probably should've beeen a little clearer in my original post. I picked quotes where I already know the meaning, and I'm wondering if folks of other cultutal backgrounds understand them. Instead I see some of you explaining them back to me, which is fine but not exactly what I looking for. lol

A better way to ask it might be, does anybody out there not know the meaning to some of those quotes?

I was just explaining for anyone who didn't know wink

RIP sad
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Reply #16 posted 10/18/19 1:55pm

LoveGalore

laytonian said:

Empress said:

I have one - Before the day I carried you through the Bridle Path door. This comes from Call My Name and it references the street and house him and Manuela lived in together in Toronto. The street is extremely upscale.


....and many (not just internationals) interpret it as "Bridal Path".

lol... Yeah and feel free to explain exactly what a "bridal path" is. (Spoiler: It's not a thing.)

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Reply #17 posted 10/19/19 8:04am

Hamad

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I'm neither from Europe or the US, his music is super obscure & underrated in my country (Qatar) but I feel that alot of the references/symbols he used in his music were from the purple realm as opposed to everyday life stuff lol I'll say this though, I learned alot of musical cues from him. Had it not been for his music, I probably would never have heard of Gustav Mahler #.3 or even Joni Mitchell, and I only used two examples, there are many others.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QLH82
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Reply #18 posted 10/19/19 9:32am

PeggyO

Hamad said:

I'm neither from Europe or the US, his music is super obscure & underrated in my country (Qatar) but I feel that alot of the references/symbols he used in his music were from the purple realm as opposed to everyday life stuff lol I'll say this though, I learned alot of musical cues from him. Had it not been for his music, I probably would never have heard of Gustav Mahler #.3 or even Joni Mitchell, and I only used two examples, there are many others.

I would agree about the 'purple realm' you mentioned.

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Reply #19 posted 10/19/19 9:44am

Mindbells9

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TwiliteKid said:



controversy99 said:



A few others:


1. "Love Jones is on the tv again" in "On the Couch"
What is Love Jones and what does this song have to do with it?





Love Jones is a movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/...nes_(film)



Also, there is a scene in the movie where the woman makes her boyfriend sleep on the couch so that they can't have sex, and the sexual tension was unbearable for them both.
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Reply #20 posted 10/19/19 9:56am

OnlyNDaUsa

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In Kiss he says "act your age not your shoe size..." that may get misses elsewhere as in the US a 12 is a BIG shoe...but in some countries the same size is a 44....




No one is coming for your abortion: they just want common-sense abortion regulations: background checks, waiting periods, lifetime limits, take a class, and a small tax.
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Reply #21 posted 10/19/19 10:00am

OnlyNDaUsa

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darkroman said:

Star Wars isn't about the movie.

It's a reference to the fake missile defence system discussed during the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency at the time of the cold war between the USA and Russia.

The idea was to have lazer mounted satellites that would track and shoot down Russian nuclear missiles, during nuclear war...


''But if a night falls and a bomb falls
Will anybody see the dawn?''


Sadly, decades later it was found to be fake news with the intention to bluff the enemy.

cool



I do not believe it was found to be fake so much as it was too ambitious... but I assure you the US (and Russia) are very much interested in such a system. And we have examples of ground based systems that do that same kind of thing.

and let's say it was all just a bluff? so what? Seems like a good idea to me. Sadaam made us thing he had WMDs in the late 90s to keep Iran off its back...

but this is NOT P&R so I am going to head out.

No one is coming for your abortion: they just want common-sense abortion regulations: background checks, waiting periods, lifetime limits, take a class, and a small tax.
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Reply #22 posted 10/19/19 4:26pm

SquirrelMeat

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I'm sure there would have been many non-US or american football fans who didn't quite understand the fantastic line in Acknowledge me...

'And even if we're dealin' with that time of the month, It's fourth and goal and I ain't about to punt'.

In fact, here in England, it could have two completely different meanings, one being the opposite of what Prince meant.

.
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Reply #23 posted 10/21/19 7:52pm

controversy99

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SquirrelMeat said:

I'm sure there would have been many non-US or american football fans who didn't quite understand the fantastic line in Acknowledge me...

'And even if we're dealin' with that time of the month, It's fourth and goal and I ain't about to punt'.

In fact, here in England, it could have two completely different meanings, one being the opposite of what Prince meant.


That is a great line. A friend of mine is a big Prince fan, but hates sports references in conversation and probably in songs. I should ask him what he thinks of that verse.

"Love & honesty, peace & harmony"
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Reply #24 posted 10/24/19 10:45pm

lust

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Hamad said:

I'm neither from Europe or the US, his music is super obscure & underrated in my country (Qatar) but I feel that alot of the references/symbols he used in his music were from the purple realm as opposed to everyday life stuff lol I'll say this though, I learned alot of musical cues from him. Had it not been for his music, I probably would never have heard of Gustav Mahler #.3 or even Joni Mitchell, and I only used two examples, there are many others.



Qatar? Wow. Yes, I wouldn’t imagine he has a big fan base there. I’m fascinated about how you discovered him?
If the milk turns out to be sour, I aint the kinda pussy to drink it!
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Reply #25 posted 10/25/19 6:30am

Hamad

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lust said:

Hamad said:

I'm neither from Europe or the US, his music is super obscure & underrated in my country (Qatar) but I feel that alot of the references/symbols he used in his music were from the purple realm as opposed to everyday life stuff lol I'll say this though, I learned alot of musical cues from him. Had it not been for his music, I probably would never have heard of Gustav Mahler #.3 or even Joni Mitchell, and I only used two examples, there are many others.



Qatar? Wow. Yes, I wouldn’t imagine he has a big fan base there. I’m fascinated about how you discovered him?


Thank you smile Well back in the late 90s, there weren’t many fun things to do here for a kid but to check out the record stores, which we had a lot of. It started with finding Chaka’s “Come 2 My House” on the used CD section, I loved the production but I was fascinated about the symbol guy singing background behind Chaka (like the song “Drama”) and a few months later “Rave” was released (the same ‘Rave’ album most folks here joke about lol). My initial interest was strictly superficial, I thought he was the most gorgeous & interesting looking man upon seeing the album cover, but I also remembered him from the celebrity magazine (come to think of it, the whole “Slave” thing garnered a lot of local attention here back in the day). After listening to the album, I noticed it was different than anything out there at the time (I bought D’Angelo’s Voodoo within the same time frame). I instantly loved the album, I could identify with his humor & quirkiness, I also could tell early on that he was a “geek” but most of all, even though it wasn’t his best output it sounded extremely different than anything released at the time. So I went back and bought “The Hits/B-Sides” and from there I bought whatever’s available in the market (his boots were sold over there too). Lurked the old org not long afterwards lol
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QLH82
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Reply #26 posted 10/25/19 7:48am

Chas

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I'm not sure all these were explained...

1. "Love Jones is on the tv again" in "On the Couch"
What is Love Jones and what does this song have to do with it?

As someone said, Love Jones is a movie.

2. "700 billion but my old neighborhood"

Why the number 700 billion?

No idea

3. "Same diet Missy went on" in "The Marrying Kind"
Do you know who Missy is? (I expect most do, but maybe not some.)

Missy Elliot used to be a bigger lady.

4. "Star Wars fly" in "Sign o the Times"
Why does he mention this movie title?

Star Wars was also a missile defense system proposed in the 80s.

5. "Just to get her hair did" in "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance"
Do you know what he is giving a nod to with that particular grammar?

"Get yo hair did" is just slang.

6. "Standing over there trying to be gangster, copping your favorite lean"
Why lean?

Gangstas just like to lean. Usually when they drivin.

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Reply #27 posted 10/25/19 10:16am

lust

avatar

Hamad said:

lust said:



Qatar? Wow. Yes, I wouldn’t imagine he has a big fan base there. I’m fascinated about how you discovered him?


Thank you smile Well back in the late 90s, there weren’t many fun things to do here for a kid but to check out the record stores, which we had a lot of. It started with finding Chaka’s “Come 2 My House” on the used CD section, I loved the production but I was fascinated about the symbol guy singing background behind Chaka (like the song “Drama”) and a few months later “Rave” was released (the same ‘Rave’ album most folks here joke about lol). My initial interest was strictly superficial, I thought he was the most gorgeous & interesting looking man upon seeing the album cover, but I also remembered him from the celebrity magazine (come to think of it, the whole “Slave” thing garnered a lot of local attention here back in the day). After listening to the album, I noticed it was different than anything out there at the time (I bought D’Angelo’s Voodoo within the same time frame). I instantly loved the album, I could identify with his humor & quirkiness, I also could tell early on that he was a “geek” but most of all, even though it wasn’t his best output it sounded extremely different than anything released at the time. So I went back and bought “The Hits/B-Sides” and from there I bought whatever’s available in the market (his boots were sold over there too). Lurked the old org not long afterwards lol


That’s fantastic. To find Prince via Chaka’s Come 2 My House is probably fairly unique.

Man o war on Rave was similar sounding to D’angelo for sure.
If the milk turns out to be sour, I aint the kinda pussy to drink it!
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Reply #28 posted 10/29/19 4:03pm

Astasheiks

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Hamad said:

lust said:
Qatar? Wow. Yes, I wouldn’t imagine he has a big fan base there. I’m fascinated about how you discovered him?
Thank you smile Well back in the late 90s, there weren’t many fun things to do here for a kid but to check out the record stores, which we had a lot of. It started with finding Chaka’s “Come 2 My House” on the used CD section, I loved the production but I was fascinated about the symbol guy singing background behind Chaka (like the song “Drama”) and a few months later “Rave” was released (the same ‘Rave’ album most folks here joke about lol). My initial interest was strictly superficial, I thought he was the most gorgeous & interesting looking man upon seeing the album cover, but I also remembered him from the celebrity magazine (come to think of it, the whole “Slave” thing garnered a lot of local attention here back in the day). After listening to the album, I noticed it was different than anything out there at the time (I bought D’Angelo’s Voodoo within the same time frame). I instantly loved the album, I could identify with his humor & quirkiness, I also could tell early on that he was a “geek” but most of all, even though it wasn’t his best output it sounded extremely different than anything released at the time. So I went back and bought “The Hits/B-Sides” and from there I bought whatever’s available in the market (his boots were sold over there too). Lurked the old org not long afterwards lol

That's cool jamming P Music in Qatar... biggrin cool

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