First of all, don’t tell Prince about this. He doesn’t like the word “fan”, something about “fan” existing in the word “fanatic”. In honor of my favorite musician, I decided to make a list of albums every Prince fan should own. Of course, some fans may own every album, which is commendable. Still, I chose to highlight the ones people definitely must have.
10. Purple Rain (1984)
This is a no brainer, even people who aren’t hardcore Prince fans own this soundtrack to the same-named movie. Starting out with the hard-rocking “Let’s Go Crazy”, the album offers a tasty mix of pop and soul. The album also contains one of his most covered songs, “When Doves Cry”.
And who can forget the raunchy “Darling Nikki”? Back in 1984 at summer camp, I played this song on someone’s cassette player. After hearing the Nikki-started-to-grind verse, the jaws of my cabin mates dropped as their eyes widened. Compared to recent rap lyrics, that verse is tame.
Like many great soundtrack albums, the music holds it own without people even thinking about the film.
9. For You (1978)
This is Prince’s first album. At age 19, he wrote, composed and produced the whole damned thing. He even played all the instruments. All at the age of 19. That alone is why For You is a must have.
On this bad boy, two songs stand out. One is “Crazy You”, a ballad sung in his signature falsetto voice as he strums an acoustic guitar. Second would be “Soft and Wet”, a funky, synthesizer number co-written with Chris Moon.
8. The Black Album (1994)
Actually, it was supposed to be released in 1987. Thinking the album evil, Prince shelved it. Yet, a fan should still own it, mostly because of the song “Bob George”, an evil guilty pleasure. Usually known to alter his voice to a higher pitch, Prince lowers it on this song. In this voice he makes fun of himself. “Prince?! Ain’t that bitch! That skinny muthafucka with the high voice?!” Actually, this song is a blueprint for future rap lyrics involving cussin’ out and smackin’ women, reason why it’s a guilty pleasure.
The music on “Bob George” blends rock and funk to the extremes. As Prince jams the guitar rock-style, the rest of the arrangement centers on some nasty funk.
7. Come (1994)
Before he turned into the symbol, this was the last album he used the name Prince. Personally, I believe this is one of his most under-appreciated albums. It takes more than one listen to get used to it. Yet, after awhile, the songs “Space” and “Letitgo” stays with you for a long time. The only thing groundbreaking is “Loose”, a thumping techno jam. Most of the music is Prince’s typical mixture of pop and soul. Still, a fan must own it.
6. 3121 (2006)
The album many of my friends said he became Prince again. Before this album, he had already dropped the symbol and went back to calling himself Prince. My friends were actually referring to the music, especially the song “Black Sweat”. On this song, he uses his signature falsetto with the lines, “I don’t want to take my clothes off…but I do.” Also, he promises his love interest she’ll be screaming like a white lady at the count of three.
Some songs do sound like past songs. “Lolita” sounds like “Raspberry Beret.” Also, “Fury” almost sounds like “1999”. Yet, the album deserves a spot in a Prince fan’s music collection.
5. Musicology (2004)
Before 3121, this was considered his comeback album, the one that made him a household name again. More soul than pop, it reached number five in the US, a charting Prince hadn’t seen in years.
Other gems, besides the thumpin’ title song, includes “Cinnamon Girl” and “Dear Mr. Man”. Both are political songs. “Cinnamon Girl” attacks the anti-Muslim hate aimed at Arab-Americans. In the vain of Bob Marley’s “Crazy Baldheads”, “Dear Mr. Man” shoves the world’s problems in the face of the ruling class.
My personal favorite is “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?” The percussion takes one back to the Purple Rain and 1999 days. Yet, it doesn’t sound dated.
4. The Gold Experience (1995)
Recently, at one of my deejay gigs, I got a request for the song “P Control”, a song I still hear being played at parties. Some women just can’t get enough that song. I can still hear them now, “Pussy controooool!!!”
This is the first album Prince released under his symbol name. Fed up with Warner Bros. withholding the album, he decided to release it under the unpronounceable symbol everyone knows him for.
“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” is the song all the fellas secretly wish they can write for their loved ones. Secretly because “real” mean don’t say sappy things like, “It’s plain to see you’re the reason God made a girl.” Hell no, “real” men don’t talk like that. Yet, this is what men wish to express to their loved ones, they’re the most beautiful girl in the world.
I remember “I Hate You” in an ironic way. The song deals with being in love with a cheater, and hating the cheater for it. Yet, because of the love ballad groove, people slow danced to it…including yours truly. A masterpiece in the same vein of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, it sounds beautiful on the surface. Yet, when you listen to the lyrics, the song ain’t what you think it is. Lyrics about stalking an ex-lover and lyrics about a cheating woman ain’t necessarily baby-making music. Yet, both songs serenade you anyway.
3. Sign O’ The Times (1987)
Who in the house know about the Quake? This double-album does not contain one song a Prince fan wouldn’t like. It’s that damned good.
After the low sales of Around The World in a Day and Parade, Sign O’ The Times brought Prince back to the forefront. This super mofo contains the rockin’ “U Got The Look” duet with the sexy Sheena Easton. (Back in the day, I wanted a taste of Sheena’s “Sugar Walls”.) Also, the album contains a “Hot Thing” that’s barely 21. Plus, I must not forget the unforgettable songs “Housequake“, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” and “It”. One time, I actually was doing “It” as this album played. To top it off, I definitely should add “Adore”. Who can forget a song that goes, “Until the end of time/I’ll be there for you”?
2. 1999 (1982)
After releasing four albums, the mainstream finally discovered Prince with this album. Not only was the song “Little Red Corvette” being played on pop radio stations, it was also being played on rock stations. When it came to black folks loving rock music, Prince was the guy to look up to. Also, the album marks the beginning of mainstream media calling Prince a rock star.
In some ways, the song “1999” became prophetic. In the actual 1999 year, like the song predicted, many folks believed the world was coming to an end.
I got one complaint with this album. Is it one of his best works? Hell yes. Some critics consider it better than the more popular Purple Rain. It’s even more raunchier than Purple Rain. On Purple Rain, the only thing you hear is about some woman masturbating with a magazine. On 1999, you hear Prince saying he wants to fuck the taste out of some woman’s mouth. Even “Little Red Corvette” is sexually-oriented. The song isn’t really about a car. It’s about intercourse with an extremely experienced female. So what is my complaint? Many of the songs are too damned long. They just go on and on and on, making the listener wish they would end already.
Despite the long songs, everyone should own this album. Not just Prince fans. Everyone who loves music must own 1999.
1. Dirty Mind (1980)
This album defines Prince the way we’ve known him for years. It’s the first time we see him mixing funk and rock, mainly punk and new wave rock on this album.
Also, Dirty Mind debuts the sexually-oriented lyrics the world has known him for. On this album, the lyrics takes one to a porn movie. First, the title song talks about a woman making him horny. Every time he’s around her, he gets a “Dirty Mind”. When we get to the third song, Prince wants to “Do It All Night”. Song number five, he goes “Uptown” and gets laid by a woman who asks is he gay. On “Head”, he gains oral sex from a woman who’s on her way to be wed. Then on the song “Sister“, like a scene from the Taboo porn series, he’s a teen-ager being seduced by his 32 year old sister. Yet, again, the song could be a protest against sexual abuse. After all the sex, Prince goes into political mode attacking the military with the song “Party Up”.
Yes, the album includes two heartache songs “When You Were Mine” and “Gotta Broken Heart Again”. Still, the album is mostly a funky porno soundtrack. Of all Prince albums, one must definitely own Dirty Mind.