Might be because I got a load off my mind today. Could be because I haven’t been thinking about the album or Prince much at all today.
Whatever the case may be, tonight was a really good night for this album. I’ve been thinking “each time I listen to Le Grind, I like it less and less.” When I was listening to it tonight, I can’t quite explain what happened, but I hit it off with that track like I never had. Not that I didn’t like it originally, it just didn’t stand out quite as much. Going first is never easy, but this time, it worked.
I opened my mind and all of a sudden, possibilities came flooding in and explanations that were out of my reach started coming in.
Le Grind is a throwback to the good old dance party known as “Dance Music Sex Romance”… I didn’t pay as much attention to the lyrics as before (they’re still dirty as anything he’s done) and took it as a party song. “Le” is a French identifier that could be masculine or feminine and he was going for more of a Eurotrip edge. He mentions “Big Ben”… noveau is French for “new,” and ce soir le chantez is French for “tonight, let’s sing.” And no, I didn’t look these up or have them written under the lyrics I have saved on a Word doc. I did take three years of French and although I don’t remember how to say a lot of the stuff, I do know what noveau, chantez & soir mean… if I knew more French, I would have known exactly what Prince’s helping hand was rapping during “Girls & Boys”.
I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice it before. This is basically a “funkier” version of “Dance Music Sex Romance”… not as long and I find it a little more enjoyable, I guess (I do rejoin DMSR much more when I listen to it BEFORE going thru the album because I feel it disrupts). Anyway, I was paying more attention to the musical progression. I originally thought that the music was repetitive and boring. There is actually some variation in that. Despite the lyrics, this track was just an innocent attempt to create a new trend of dance (Prince=innocent?? I know, I’m not so sure about that either). Innocent meaning nothing suspicious about it for it to make sense to shelve the album. We just haven’t gotten to the “worst” of it. It’s like sleuthing out a mystery. Don’t have anything to support the album’s fate…. yet.
Cindy C. was just plain enjoyable, always is. The female vocals add a little more flavor to the song, which makes it more fun to sing. Heh, whatever “innocent” image I might have thought Prince had with “Le Grind” gets thrown away with the progression of this song. It starts out tame. Prince is wooing Cindy C and is asking politely for her to come his way. Then he starts coming up with the reasons why she should. Then before you know it, he steps over the line and gets rejected. I might be going a little deep on this one, but it seems a little close to home for Prince. He gets with his girl and before he knows it, he ends up losing her because of something he did. Makes me think that Susannah had dumped him recently and Cindy C is his rebound and in the end, he’s like “why doesn’t anybody want to play with me?”
These first two songs are derivatives of funk and really should set the tone for the whole album. Why not have an album full of fun dance music like this? Truth is that there’s only so much you can sing about when you’re partying all night like this. And knowing Prince, sticking to one genre gets very boring, so he has to branch out. This album started out as tracks like these, but then more things came to his attention. It’s a collective effort of him firing back at people that have rubbed him the wrong way. These happen to be against the people who think he’s left the Black audience behind.
Makes very little sense to say this, but I’m liking Dead on it more with each listen. It’s a hip-hop song and I actually enjoy it… but to a certain degree. When he gets to the very end, he loses me with the lyrics. “What’s he talking about?” or “What’s he trying to prove with these nonsense lyrics?” comes to mind… and this is after the line about licking knees. I checked through the lyrics and he’s dissing hip-hop the best he possibly can and he snuck in a reference to them not being actual musicians. While listening, I recall someone saying in the “Purple Reign” interview that hip-hop wasn’t made up of real musicians or singers and Prince felt it was CHEATING. I think I like the track because I’m 100% behind the idea Prince is trying to get across= Hip-Hop Sucks!
I was enjoying the funk so much that I don’t think I wanted this next track to come. I wanted to keep going through the funk and seeing how he was going to get it across (even though I already know full well how he does). When 2 R in Love, I think I’ve said just about everything I can say about this song. I don’t know if its the music or his vocals, but there’s a hidden sadness about it that I can’t quite identify. I remember hearing and again came to the conclusion that he was going through a troubled time in his life and perhaps he didn’t want to release an album because he didn’t want to look back on it as something he wrote in a time of sadness, frustration and at times, anger. He did write the Dirty Mind album during a hard time, but it was nowhere near as this anger or bitter. (And yes, I’m aware that Prince doesn’t look back much, but maybe that plays into the mold of “he didn’t want people to see this as the last thing he wrote” hypothesis).
Since I enjoyed the previous song so much, the next one suffers. Bob George comes off as very harsh and at times, scary. I don’t think that there is any other track where Prince is THIS angry. Whether it’s that guitar or the distorted ‘gangster’ vocals, it was rubbing me the wrong way, but I was still enjoying it. I listened really close and it’s the kind of song where you can imagine the storyline as it plays out. Seems that the girl cheated on him, their homelife was unsatisfying, he ends up killing her and goes on a rampage to find this “Bob” character. When I say scary, look at it this way. If the gangster is supposed to be Prince, it makes him appear the exact opposite of what everyone believes him to be… most importantly misogynic. I’m not going to pay attention to the ramifications of that because its fantasy.
I think this track [and possibly one/two other(s)] is the reason why Prince eventually decided to pull the album. At first, this was just an attempt to get back at Bob Cavallo and Nelson George. But what came out of it was a scary character. Prince was on the outside after writing this, looking in, and he didn’t like what he saw. His anger had created an evil, very scary character that he himself feared.
Superfunkycalifragisexy is another candidate for why he pulled the album, but it’s not quite as bad as the previous. It started out a little crazy (need I go further than the scream of insanity that it starts out with). His vocals start out a little frantic but as it goes on, he starts to relax into his own element…. ahem… “sex is in the air,” judging from the screams. There’s nothing really innocent about this track, but it clearly says “hey, we’re back to the original objective, to release an album of funky dance music.” This takes “Le Grind’ to the nth power and he pulls out all the stops. I could be wrong, but this might be the last song where he does his characteristic “oowwwwaaahhhh” scream. And that’s something I know to be his thing and I miss it when its gone.
West Compton is just an lengthy funky instrumental piece that doesn’t really play into anything. It continues the funkiness of the previous track, but I don’t get very much out of it. The place its named after is supposedly very chaotic and full of crime & gang violence and this is what that chaos sounds like… organized chaos. Nothing particular “evil” about it.
I’m pretty much all wigged out by the time we get to that Funky Place, so I don’t really know what to think of it. Camille is completely different from all the other material so I can’t really compare it with the other songs. The music is funky with the horns and such. But vocally, I’m getting a completely different vibe. I guess because now I know that it was in a class of its own with material using the same vocals. Unlike the other tracks, the electric guitar plays a bigger role and that’s Prince’s best instrument.
Other than that, I can’t really say much else at this point. My mind is exhausted from a long day and clearing up some last minute loose-ends. Now that I’ve settled into school, I’m feeling a lot better than I was last week at this time. With my mind at ease, I can think more clearly and get to my conclusions more easily. Actually, my mind’s exhausted right now, so I’m going to end this blog here.
But I think that I have made some real progress with this album and it’s just as good as it was when I heard it the first time. But the “evil” presence in the album had to have been Spooky Electric, the gangster in “Bob George”… and Prince didn’t like what he saw and didn’t want it released. The drug theory is still on the table and probably will always be unless Prince gives me confirmation, which I won’t get. So I’m free to wonder. One way or another, it doesn’t really make a difference to me.