Elaina Deva Proffitt-Free Lance Writer
a diverse sound giving the listener a variety of moods...
John Payne brought what he promised to his fans in his newly released album, “The Journey: Life, Love, Politics and Music” Vol. 2, and when you kick back and turn up the volume, he makes you a believer in his talent and depth as a Song Writer, Musician, Arranger, Producer and multi instrumentalist and Engineer. This CD can only be described as a "HIT"
When asked how he was so good at such an early age, John states, “This funk comes straight from the source, since I was taught by the Masters.” and when you listen to The Journey CD and you read his background, you know he speaks the truth. Payne, at an early age in life has jammed with just about everyone he ever wanted to meet including; Prince and the NPG at Paisely Park Studios, recorded and performed with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, played guitar with the great Larry Graham and Graham Central Station. Payne also has toured playing his funky Base with Merl Saunders-Funky Friends and jammed with the legendary bassist Chuck Rainey at NAMM. Payne and his business partners own Enyap Music Inc. a production company and multi room state of the art recording studio in Walnut Creek California.
His new album is a diverse sound giving the listener a variety of moods and tantalizing the senses. Known for his hot Funk, sexy voice and base guitar, he hits us with it on the first couple of songs to get us in the groove but, Payne also shows us a softer side on this album. His hidden voice tracks always tell another part of the story, of the song and who and what he is singing about. “The Journey: Life, Love, Politics and music” Vol. 2 will get you up off the couch and dance or inspire you to turn the lights down low and grab that special someone next to you.
Prince heads and/or fans of the Minneapolis Funk - listen up...
The Journey - John Payne
This album first came to my attention one night while I was "surfing the Internet." Specifically I was looking at "The Lesson" forum on okayplayer.com when I came across a post about some independent musician called John Payne. I instantly found John's album on iTunes, purchased it, added his profile page to my friends list on myspace & spreaded the word to my other cyber 'friends.' They added him too, but the thing that totally blew my mind was the fact that John ended up reading some of the album reviews that I was posting on my blog over at myspace ....
Intro- The Journey: Tracks like this usually bore me, and they make me wanna press the skip button as a result....but this one is just a tad different. Only cause it features some nice acoustic guitars combined with a few slapped & popped basslines ala Larry Graham, Bootsy, and every other '70s funkateer who does that in their music....so I'll just let this one play, just so we can gradually move into the next track.
Have a Good Time (The Party Song): Speaking of Bootsy, this track begins with John imitating the legendary Space Bass funkster. Lyrically it's just about celebrating & having a good time, which is exactly what the title of the song & the chorus says. The way he says "it's a celebration" reminds me of Dave Chappelle....he must be a huge fan. Hold up a second....he just said "I'm John Payne bitch!!!" and sang a few lines from Rick James' "Bustin' Out on the Funk." That was pretty cool. Actually the way he imitated Rick was dead on!! It also made me laugh when he said "I'm John Payne bitch." He even has a myspace page that bares the same name. Of course I had to add it to my friends list - the title alone made me crack up! Definitely a solid cut!!!
JUSSAFREAK (featuring George Clinton): When I first saw George Clinton's name written beside this track's title, I must admit I did have a few reservations. Back in his heyday he was the King of the Funk, and I guess to a certain extent he still is, but his voice is also all kinds of shot these days, which totally turns me away. This track is an exception though, cause he hasn't sounded this cool in years! Well, not to my ears anyway. The beat on this track sounds kinda 'crunk' to me....sorta like Little John or one of those rappers like that....dunno if that was intentional though. But it's funky at the same time... especially when he tells his woman she's an "irresistable bitch," samples "Gett Off" & sings a few lines from "Black Sweat." After I heard this song, I sent John a PM on myspace & said, "I think Prince is gonna come after you man!!" He was like, "yeah that's what I want." Well, there ya go then. John Payne obviously loves another one of Prince's side projects - The Time, cuz at another point in this song, he announces that he's gonna do a "sexy solo." Very Morris Day of him. The way this song ends reminds me of Prince a lot too...dunno if that's sampled from somewhere I'm unaware of or if it's totally original.
The Light (Chemisstry): I think D'Angelo is gonna come after this dude as well, cuz he stole a line from "Me & Those Dreamin' Eyes Of Mine." Or at least, he took some of those lyrics, rearranged 'em & threw 'em into this cut. Then again D hasn't put out a record in a whopping seven years, so...y'know, I don't think that that's very likely anyway. Other than that, this is a pretty cool track....I guess you could say that it's funk based but there's also a hip hop beat goin' on along with the slapped bassline. Dunno who he's singin' about but it's all about some woman that he really cares for....could it be his woman? Nah maybe not - probably not even that deep. He also tells this woman that all the fellas wanna be her friend on myspace...but that was obviously a joke cuz he's laughin' at that comment.
Release Me: Those of you who are devout Prince heads and/or fans of the Minneapolis Funk - listen up...cuz you will love this song with a passion....let me say it once again - WITH A PASSION!! This, my friends, is a great laid back slice of funky r'n'b featuring plenty of Linn drums & slapped basslines.....just the way I like it. Reminds me a lot of "What Do U Want Me 2 Do" off the "Musicology" album & also "Props N Pounds" which is a song Prince put out a few years ago on a compilation called "The Slaughterhouse," which was only ever available on his website. It really doesn't get any better than this folks. It really doesn't.
Don't Talk Back: Okay....let's slow it down a little more then....sounds kinda like John wrote this one after a bit of a quarrell with his lady....either that or it could just be made up. Only the songwriter knows what they're thinkin' right? I like the guitar solo on this track....very well done. Reminds me of a Prince ballad too.
Hold Up (Wait a Minute) Featuring Latoya London: John's voice does not appear on this track at all....but I'd imagine he's all over it musically. If I had liner notes it would be easier. Anyways I'm most definitely not complaining because it's an excellent cut, and Latoya has a great voice...no, NOT Latoya Jackson foolz!! LOL. I dunno who Latoya London is, but if she has a solo album in the works I hope she puts it out one day, it could make for great listening.
NEW Beautiful (Love Brand New): I'm a little confused here, is that actually Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band on co-lead vocals, or is it just John doing his best "Uncle Charlie" as they affectionately dub him? If it is then he's certainly fooled me. Whoever that is is even quoting some of Charlie's lyrics, "girl u knock me out," "you're my favourite girl." What's goin on here huh? Anyways....other than that the beat's sorta Timberland inspired. Personally I can just take it for what it is. It's good stuff.
Still Down With Me: This is a nice midtempo track. I don't think the subject matter is really that difficult to decipher. He's just telling his girlfriend to stay by his side....or rather stay "down" with him. I don't think there's much else to add to that is there? We'll move on then....NOT impying that that was bad song in case you may be wondering if that's what I was doing.
Girl from MPLS (Sugar, Water, Purple): For the unenlightened, the title of this track comes from a Dave Chappelle skit from his live DVD "For What It's Worth." Whenever I hear him doing that piece & I hear him say the word "Purple," I always think of Prince without fail. So imagine my reaction when I saw THIS track's title listed on iTunes. I instantly thought to myself: "Yep!! I'm definitely grabbin this album!" And that's exactly what I did. It's really just a short instrumental piece, but that's cool with me cuz once again it's obviously heavily influenced by the whole Minneapolis Funk sound. I'm gonna steal a quote from Victor Wooten here, John is "juss thumpin on da bass!!!!" And I LOVE it!!! Actually no - take that "instrumental" comment back...he's muttering some lyrics here, but it's real hard to understand him. Hey! What happened there?? Isn't there supposed to be more than that? Why did he fade that out??? Oh well.
Still Feel You (featuring Giovanni Cassini): Maybe I need to go & get my hearing checked or sumthin'...cuz unless I'm listening to this album with my headphones on I can't hear Giovanni at all. Whenever I CAN hear her, I'm just glad that somebody finally decided to throw a skit with an Italian chick on their album & have her speakin' sum Italiano!! Anyways lyrically I'm guessin that this track's just about some woman that he's trying to chase, but she already has somebody in her life, and John's just saying that he understands that....but by the same token he doesn't give a eff...or sumthin. It's a decent song though.
Son Going Down: Another ballad... this one isn't really doin that much 4 me, as opposed to.......
Thinkin': Basically, this song is just a break up song. Or at least a couple who's on the verge of breaking up. He's just singing about how he's missing his girlfriend & thinking about her.....that's the main point that needs to be raised here. The only difference between this particular song & any other 'traditional' break up song, is that John made this one fonky! Wit' an "O." John, can you please hook me up with another MP3 of this song? This one has a few glitches in it at the beginning. I've had this problem before, but Apple did nuthin' about it.
Lil' Rocker Girl (Can't Let You Go): When I first heard this song I was like, "Ummm....okay. I guess this not a bad track...." I wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics, but now that I'm listening to it for this review, I noticed that he's singing about some chick with a Paris Hilton smile who he knows isn't very good for "a black boy" like him...his words not mine. Worse still, he starts singin' that fricken song from that movie with Nicolas Cage & Meg Ryan....what was that wackass song called again? The one by the Goo Goo Dolls. Anyways John himself even informed me that this was supposed to be a tongue in cheek thang. Still, I could do without it! Anyways - Let's get back to da fonk!!!
Runs In the Family (JP Featuring Graham/ Payne Express): Let's see here...on this album, there are lyrics blatantly stolen from such artists as Prince, Charlie Wilson, D'Angelo - and in the case of this particular track - the bassline from Larry Graham's "Earthquake" is used....with or without permission? I dunno. Lyrically it's all about how his brothers & his father are in his backing band and actually - in all seriousness I really don't mind him stealin' the bassline from Larry's "Earthquake," or any other thing that he's used with or without permission...it's tight stuff regardless. Actually he even sounds kinda like Sly Stone on this track....which is also just fine with me. I guess that was the intention as well.
Outro: Basically the same as the intro....only difference is that it's the closing of the album this time around, instead of the opening. Actually, no take that back - there's an extra track on the album!!
Cumaround (Martin Luther): This track reminds me a little bit of that Prince song "Come On" off the "New Power Soul" album. The synthesizer reminds me of that particular song & so does John's overall funky attitude, which he displays throughout the song. That 'attitide' is combined with a few cuss words as well, which Mr Nelson probably wouldn't approve of these days, but that doesn't really bother me cuz it's a funky ass cut. There's a talbox on this track too, which I only JUST noticed as I was writing this description. What exactly does Martin Luther mean by "[you're] out there playin with them white boys. Don't nobody wanna hear that shit"???? I just so happen to BE a white boy!!... buddy. I am so very offended by your remarks!! Nah just kiddin' say what you will. Can't wait for Martin's third disc..if there ever will be one.
Verdict: The full title of this album is: "The Journey: Life, Love, Politics & Music Volume 2." Where da hell is Volume One then?? Apparently it's gonna be re-released with bonus tracks, but until then it's only this one that's available. As a whole, I think that this is quite a good album for a second effort & if I had to recommend it to anybody I would say Prince fans, funk fans & R&B/Soul lovers would love this album. U can make up your own mind though, this is just where I personally stand on each & every track. End of.....yet ANOTHER album review.