I’d totally forgotten about this guy. Before rock came into the picture for me and even after, the Minneapolis pop sound popularized by Prince, largely, but other acts such as Morris Day and the Time or Shelia E. rated as high with me as any rock band. It was a raw and sensuous aural experience full of playful musicality and full of attitude. It wasn’t rock, but it was just as good and came with the snap of excellent pop that leave you feeling slightly ashamed for liking it. It was a scene driven by talent, first and foremost, rather than artifice.
OneGunn is carrying on that tradition with his music. Marvin Gunn, the man behind the moniker, earned a well-deserved place in music history books for several things. First, he distinguished himself as one of the special players in a generation brimming with them with his Minneapolis 1980s unit Mazarati and catching the ear of no less than Minneaspolis legend Prince. Gunn, the original vocalist for “Kiss”, later collaborated with Prince on his version that catapulted up the charts to a #1 spot and remains one of Prince’s most iconic and popular songs today. He earned Gunn a Grammy and so much more.
He logged countless miles on the road, on album releases in that era, and success continued paying off handsome dividends for OneGunn. Adopting the moniker MC Skat Kat, he appeared as co-lead vocalist on her #1 hit single “Opposites Attract”. It opened doors for a duo he formed at the time called The Wild Pair who eventually landed a deal with Capitol Records. He moved west in 2006 and has since expanded his creative efforts branching off into scores for a TV pilot and independent film contributions.
His latest single “Why” comes on the heels of recent releases such as 2016’s album Over & Under the Wire, among others, and shows him working with the creativity and energy of a man half his age. The Minneapolis sound of his youth is still vibrant, far from played out, and you can hear it in the countless subtleties he employs as a singer along the way. These aren’t empty affectations. Instead, his vocal phrasing helps steer the song into places it might have otherwise never traveled.
He conjures up a host of emotions that will vary from one listener to the next. It is clear, beyond any doubt, that his overriding mandate is entertaining the audience. The customary mix of keyboards, drums, bass, and its seamless glide from beginning to end gains added luster from his singing, but it has standalone value. OneGunn is far too complete a performer and songwriter to shirk his obligations in a single area of presentation.
He always avoids anything smacking of self-indulgence or excess. “Why” doesn’t belabor its presence for listeners and the good sense to wrap things up in a timely fashion is another hallmark of his talents listeners enjoy. There’s no wasted motion. OneGunn’s “Why” wants to get us involved and doesn’t beat around the bush drawing us into his world.