The Black Album was officially released in 1994, but really came out in 1988 and was famously shelved for the much more positive and upbeat Lovesexy.
Lovesexy was written and recorded in 2 weeks due to Prince not wanting the world to see what was deep in his mind at the time – which was dark, nasty, sexy, funk. It’s probably not how he wanted to be perceived during the peak of his fame in the mid/late 80’s and was supposedly officially released by WB to expedite the release from his 7 album WB contract. This is all conjecture of course. Another theory is that there was too much trafficking in the bootleg, and WB wanted to cash in. Lastly, with the release of the dark/moody Come, they decided to also release The Black Album anyway, as the evil, violent content was no longer considered so shocking, with most people actually realising that the content was more of a social commentary at the time against the violence of rap music and a reaction (angry one) to the fact that people didn’t think he was funky anymore. Whatever, it seemed that Prince and WB were ok with releasing this in 1994, and NOT OK with releasing it 1988.
Back to the album. The two “rap” critiques are actually brilliant and inventive songs. “Dead On It”, says that rappers are tone deaf, and contains one of Prince’s funkiest guitar riffs ever, and a nasal pitched singing style – as well as super funny lyrics. Even more vicious is “Bob George”, a legendary song where Prince slows down his voice to sound like a gangster rapper, who ends up shooting everyone. Once again, very very funny and possibly taken out of context at the time. What we really see here is how wicked Prince’s sense of humour could be and how much he detested rap (which, by this time in 1994 – he had clearly changed his mind with a lot of rap appearing on his 90’s records).
The reaction to “you aint funky” anymore.. was a big one, with lots of Funk all over the place. From the brilliant “Cindy C” (thanks to Sheila E’s super tight drumming) to “Le Grind”, a song about blowjobs. The masterpiece, in terms of brining it home in the land of funk is “2 Nigs United for West Compton”, never a tighter, funkier bass line is to be heard again. And once again, there is a brilliant funny intro.
“When 2 are in Love” puts a dampener on proceedings, and was considered safe enough and boring enough for it to actually legitimately be released on “Lovesexy” in 1988.
The Album ends with “Rock Hard in a funky place”, one of the “older” Camille songs, and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album. Still it’s as rude as the rest, and (for my ears) a farily rushed throw away type of song.
Classic Album, One of the most famous bootlegs ever – part of Prince’s legacy forever.
4 out of 5
- Side 1
- “Le Grind” – 6:44
- “Cindy C.” – 6:15
- “Dead on It” – 4:37
- “When 2 R in Love” – 3:59 †
- Side 2
- “Bob George” – 5:36
- “Superfunkycalifragisexy” – 5:55
- “2 Nigs United 4 West Compton” – 7:01
- “Rockhard in a Funky Place” – 4:31