By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Inspired by the birth of Prince Be's son, Dearest Christian is an internal overhaul, a spiritual rampage through the attic, the basement and all the closets. Musically, it's a lush and freewheeling montage that sounds like nothing else out right now. Be's love of '60s pop-rock (he's long had a jones for both the Beatles and the Beach Boys) is all over the disc, but so is the bright soul bounce of Billy Preston ("Art Deco Halos") and the kind of epic soul production that Isaac Hayes and Barry White once cornered: sweeping strings and heartbreaking melodies, with piano and acoustic guitars high up in the mix. Hand claps and finger snaps run throughout. Tracks alternate in tone, flipping from the bedroom ardor of Maxwell (with far deeper lyrics) to the chilled loneliness of . . . Prince Be.
Lyrically, the album runs the gamut from gut-wrenching confessional to prayer to goofy idealism in the face of madness. Throughout are the doubts Be has about inflicting this world upon his child ("I had no right bringing you here/knowing what I know, feeling the way I feel"), and the upshot is an unexpected one: You get the impression Prince Be will be a great dad precisely because he's smart enough to know that conception is child abuse, and he's already taking steps to make amends. The disc's final track, "Untitled," is a suite composed of three different passages, inspired by the emotional pummeling Prince Be suffered at the hands of his mother when he was a boy. In it, the angry words of his wife/girlfriend begin to mirror those once shouted by his mother, until the two women blur in his mind: "And she'd say to me/I hate you so much, why can't you go away? I wish you never were/And she'd say to me/I hate you so much, you're nothing to me . . ."
Ironically, having all but abandoned rapping on Dearest Christian, Prince Be delivers one of the year's best raps in "Yang: As Private I's." If there's one snatch of lyrics that sums up the album, Prince Be and the millennial angst of more than one modern-day Negro, this is it:
I'm tryin' real hard not to be exactly the way I am the next time I come here all I'm bringing to this atmosphere is the will not to do it again Understand, I got neon King Kong standin' on my back can't stop to turn around broke my sacroiliac tryin' to keep sealed where this brother's really at to tell the new millennium "Yo, what da dilly black" You look cute in your stars and stripes she said are you coming out tonight Hell no, that's why whoever loves me will have to be my killer 'cause here I'm just a slave tryin' to be the nigga.