The 2021 passing of Minneapolis musical artist Regal the Rare may not
have made Rolling Stone or Pitchfork’s news columns, but nonetheless is
a tremendous loss to the modern music world. Under the aforementioned
nom de plume, Regal Anton-Chavez Francis Bragg’s slender body of music
reflects a fierce creativity and engagement with life that has the
potential to long outlive his all-too-brief twenty-nine years alive.
Stepson to multi-instrumentalist Jellybean Johnson, drummer for
Minneapolis legends The Time and an accomplished solo artist, Regal the
Rare’s posthumous single “Blue Goo” features Jellybean as a guest
alongside other talents such as Dalé and Ty Prophecy. It’s a stirring
and thoroughly entertaining reminder of Regal’s mammoth gifts that won’t
inspire sadness, but rather gratitude that the music remains.
“Blue Goo” boasts an infectious vibe from the first. The warm yet
relentless pulse at the song’s center invites listeners into Regal’s
musical world and he augments it with shimmering electronic
embellishments. It never clutters the arrangement, however. Handclaps
throughout the opening verse add tasteful percussion and the thumping
bass physically engages listeners. Much of the arrangement works through
a process of accumulation and abounds with transitions.
The chorus will likely be a favorite portion of the song for many. It
supplies a heady payoff from the momentum Regal and his cohorts build
during the verses. There are a handful of inventive shifts and turns
embedded throughout the cut.
It's a song in a near-constant state of metamorphosis. Jellybean
Johnson’s incendiary guitar contributions during the middle of the song
and close to its conclusion are shrewd additions to the performance.
Dalé and Ty Prophecy’s contributions to the track never overshadow each
other or anyone else’s work but, instead, add to the song’s communal
excellence. This is collective modern pop near the zenith of its
Regal’s voice has a pleasing and welcoming tenor. Its light tone fits
the arrangement quite nicely and likewise contrasts with others in an
effective way. It’s a testament to his lack of ego or hunger for the
spotlight that he shares the song’s spotlight with other performers; for
Regal, the song’s the thing, rather than any chances for personal glory.
It never runs on too long. His instincts for superior songcraft serve
him well throughout this single. There isn’t any fat weighing down the
recording and the production achieves and maintains a well-calibrated
balance between its disparate components. Despite its pop pedigree, it’s
far from disposable. Regal the Rare succeeds in creating an enduring
example of what pop music can still accomplish in the right hands.
“Rare” is a good adjective for describing Regal Anton-Chavez Francis
Bragg and his talent. He doesn’t come across as some perfunctory pop
merchant looking to cash in but, instead, as a budding auteur who is
just beginning to leave an enduring mark on the musical landscape. Fate
cut his mission short as it so often does with the great ones, but “Blue
Goo” loses none of its attendant punch as a result of his demise.