Another Friday, another weekly local music column. All set to hit publish, slide on down the dinosaur, and yabba dabba do myself into the weekend.
Would Prince Have Treated Morris Day Like This? Maybe!
Morris Day and the Prince estate are clashing over whether Day may use the name “Morris Day & the Time.” The singer presented his case on social media yesterday, writing “Now that Prince is no longer with us, suddenly the people who control his multi-million-dollar estate want to rewrite history by taking my name away from me.” (Prince created the Time in 1981, and retained the rights to the group name, though he frequently, if unofficially, permitted Day to use it.)
Day’s claim is “not entirely accurate,” the estate responded, which, you’ll note, is not at all the same as saying the claim is “entirely inaccurate.” To support his assertion, Day produced a letter in which lawyers for the estate took issue with his attempt to trademark the name. Billboard has the full blow-by-blow here.
Fan sentiment is firmly on Day’s side, and why wouldn’t it be? Still, an interesting wrinkle in this saga is that Prince did in fact block a reunited Time from recording and performing under that name in 2011, leading them to instead adopt the name “the Original 7ven” for their album Condensate. “The rumblings were out that we were making a record and he reached out to us and sent a cease-and-desist letter,” Day told Jon Bream of the Star Tribune at the time, “he” being you-know-who. Jellybean Johnson made these even more pointed remarks: ”Who has time to be in court fighting about a name you’ve done had for 30 years? He’s a chronic litigator. He has the money to do it; I don’t.”
This history has no real bearing on whatever negotiations may now be ongoing, stalled, or collapsing, since regardless of Prince’s intentions, his IP has passed into corporate hands. But let it be just a little reminder that the post mortem sanctification of Prince strips away so much of what made him a singular figure—his mercurial nature and his need for total control over his affairs. If you can look back over Prince’s career and honestly say you could have predicted what he would have done next, I hope you’re playing the stock market or at least telling fortunes for a living.
Still, let Morris use the damn name.
Will Snoop Dogg Love Yam Haus?
Yam Haus, a Minneapolis band that I or some other Racket staffer has at one point referred to as “hunky,” will be fighting for Minnesotan valor and honor on TV this summer. Their song will be featured on American Song Contest (a show title that sounds like a bad translation from another language) in which one contestant (either a solo songwriter or a group) from every US state and territory (plus D.C.) will compete in what’s being billed as a U.S. version of Eurovision, though I imagine with slightly less camp value. The hosts are Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson. Here is Yam Haus exclaiming all the information in a way that’s far more entertaining than reading that past paragraph was.
While most of the contestants are at similar points in their career as Yam Haus—somewhat established but by no means famous—others are straight-up ringers, including yes-that-Jewel from Alaska, yes-that-Michael-Bolton from Connecticut, and Maryland’s… Sisqó? Yes, the Dru Hill alum and thong aficionado, who we have relentlessly claimed as a Minnesotan since he moved to Maple Grove several years ago, is competing on behalf of his state of origin. Sorry, man, we can’t root for you.
Also of interest: South Dakota’s contestant is Judd Hoos, which if I am not mistaken is how the people of that state spell “Yam Haus.” The show premieres on NBC on March 21.
New(ish) Music Friday: Scrunchies, Eleganza, OKNice
Not going to lie to you, my readers and confidants: The new songs here aren’t exactly brand new. Last week, Scrunchies released “Absolute Maximum,” the second single from their forthcoming album Feral Coast (due on Dirtnap Records on April 1) and it’s one of those boomy tracks you feel in your gut: churning riff, rumbling bass, pounding drums. Also last week, meat-and-taters rockers Esperanza cut loose with “Lonesome and High,” the second single from their upcoming album, Water Valley High due from Dial Back Sound on April 29. Now let’s talk about an album that did come out today: St. Paul rapper OKNice released Have You Tried Being Happy?, with lyrics about dealing with depression, or, more specifically, dealing with other people who don’t understand depression. Here’s a video for “Split/Screen” to give you a taste.