Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. This is the Prince album we wanted Musicology to be.
  2. It could be argued that music this masterful waives all claim to the sound of surprise--until you pay attention.
  3. But while "3121" might suggest that, at 47, Prince isn't looking to change the face of music anymore, he's clearly still more than capable of delivering classic Prince albums.
  4. Maybe he's no longer breaking new ground, but his eccentricities are now an attribute, not a curse, which goes a long way in making his trademark blend of funk, pop, soul, and rock sound nearly as dazzling as it did at his popular and creative peak in the '80s.
  5. Rolling Stone
    As on Musicology, the beats get pretty wicked here... But while 3121 is no funkier than Musicology, it does emphasize speedier tempos and, two nods to Zapp aside, more conventional sonics. [6 Apr 2006, p.60]
  6. Like many of his records, it's more of a collection of songs than a 'play from beginning to end' affair.
  7. Uncut
    A deeply enjoyable pop-funk record. [May 2006, p.114]
  8. Ultimately, this is the best album The Artist Formerly Known As Squiggle could possibly have hoped to make in 2006.
  9. Add 3121 to the mounting pile of evidence: Prince is the black Beck.
  10. Uneven? No question. Entertaining? Is the rain purple?
  11. 75
    Prince’s main weakness is the urge to display his own mind-boggling talent.
  12. A testament to the singer's versatility and musicianship.
  13. The New York Times
    A friendly, happy, concise album. [20 Mar 2006]
  14. Blender
    The minimalist tracks rate among his best. [May 2006, p.109]
  15. The best thing about 3121 is the opportunity it affords its maverick creator to school the children by recontextualizing historically resonant pop riffs and icons.
  16. Oh well, a third of a terrific Prince album is better than no terrific Prince album at all.
  17. Prince is at his best when his music is unmistakably his. Half of the tracks on 3121 could not have been made by anyone else, but the slushy R&B ballads are not amongst them.
  18. Even at its best, and it gets pretty damn good, such as on the stark "Black Sweat" and the rock single, "Fury," the record still sounds like it's stuck somewhere in the past.
  19. But there's more to 3121 than the prickle of nostalgia: amid the title track's murky, unsettling groove and the grinding techno noise of Love, Prince sounds thrillingly alive, a veteran throwing down a cocky, confident challenge to any young pretenders.
  20. 3121 does a bit better than [Musicology], coming up with a handful of infectious songs-- it's his best since the symbol record, although certainly there remains a massive chasm between it and his masterpieces.
  21. There's nothing on 3121 that Prince hasn't done better before.
  22. While the hooks don't reach out and grab you the way you long for them to, and though the lyrics aren't as smart as we've come to expect from a composer who once claimed to literally write songs in his sleep, 3121 is a wholly listenable and consistent(ly funky) addition to the catalog of one of music's pop pioneers.
  23. Mojo
    It's difficult to judge on one listen. [May 2006, p.104]
  24. Q Magazine
    There are songs here that are terrific.... But 3121 wouldn't be a Prince album if it wasn't also full of filler. [May 2006, p.119]
  25. Instead of wrenching free of every single confinement that’s ever been placed around his tiny waist, like he’s pretty much always done, Prince is settling into 3121, accepting the decades of his career as what he should be content in emulating.
  26. Entertainment Weekly
    A messier, more elf-indulgent affair than its predecessor. [24 Mar 2006, p.68]
  27. Despite a few promising creative bursts ("Love," "Black Sweat"), it's another case of dashed expectations, as the disc dissolves into a bloodless puddle of smooth-jazz grooves and lyrics that wither at the hands of the singer's recent religious ideals.
  28. By the time the disc ends with the James Brown-inspired tight funk workout “Get on the Boat”, complete with guest saxophone solo by Maceo Parker, you’d be excused for having so muddled a perspective as to not remember the few truly standout tracks.
  29. 3121 may be funkier, edgier, and dancier than Musicology, but it still doesn’t push the envelope on a level that would constitute a true return to form.
  30. One expects more from Prince than this "futuristic fantasy."
  31. New Musical Express (NME)
    [It] doesn't really sound like Prince at all. [25 Mar 2006, p.35]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 71
  2. Negative: 7 out of 71
  1. Sep 20, 2017
    My introduction to Princeland. The best thing when it comes to music that happend to me ever. I thought that this album was an odd benchmarkMy introduction to Princeland. The best thing when it comes to music that happend to me ever. I thought that this album was an odd benchmark for his world, but boy my thoughts vanished when i heard the rest of his work. This is so well crafted and inspiring, the sweetest piece of work you could expect from Prince in one place. Full Review »
  2. MikeL
    Aug 20, 2007
    It took awhile to grow on me, but this is arguably Prince's best album since "The Truth" (released in 1996 with "Crystal Ball" and It took awhile to grow on me, but this is arguably Prince's best album since "The Truth" (released in 1996 with "Crystal Ball" and unfortunately OOP). Pretty solid stuff, 8 of 12 tracks are keepers. 4 just plain suck, and they're mainly the slow ones. Of the ballads, only "Satisfied" is worth returning to - it's classic, slow-burning Prince. Full Review »
  3. MCJC
    Jul 21, 2006
    great album. no touching 'Black Sweat'.