Chris Rock has long been an unabashed Purple patron, championing Prince as The GOAT for years now. But today we’re getting Rock’s personal account of why Purple Rain may be the greatest thing to have ever happened in the music world and at no better time, as he’ll be joined by The Kid on the set of his upcoming hosting gig on SNL. In a recent interview with Billboard, the legendary funny-man astutely broke down the album almost track-by-track, shining some light on his early days as a selector when he’d mix “When Doves Cry” with Run DMC‘s “It’s Like That” (brilliant, if I may say so) at block parties and whether anything has touched that 1-2 punch of audiovisual funk since. With such a finely tuned ear for Mr. Nelson’s seemingly endless catalogue of innovative cuts, it seems Rock (and really all of us) will be in for a treat, as The Purple One will defy standards once more in an 8-minute-long jam on NBC’s flagship late-night program, refusing to cut up his segment into two as virtually all musical guests have in the past. Whatever happens this Saturday, be sure to get your DVR set. Read Chris Rock’s thorough account of why Purple Rain is the greatest album of all time below.
“When Purple Rain came out, I was a DJ with guys on my block, playing block parties. That summer, the big thing was Run-D.M.C. — “Born in the USA”, blah blah blah, the streets were playing “Sucker MCs” and “It’s Like That.” I remember “When Doves Cry” mixed into “It’s Like That” perfectly, and even at a block party, when all we wanted to hear was hip-hop, “When Doves Cry” was so hardcore, such an amazing record. “Take Me With U” is probably my favorite on the album, it’s just a beautiful song. But those drums on “When Doves Cry?” With no bass? And the lyric was not corny at all. It makes all the sense in the world, and it makes no sense. You can’t write a song like that now — music today has no metaphors, it’s all literal. Now they would make you say, “When love dies” or something.”
There’s not a bad record on Purple Rain. Thriller is allegedly the best album of all time, and that has at least two bad songs on it. There’s no “Baby Be Mine” on Purple Rain.
I remember seeing the movie two or three times the first day it came out. It was mind-boggling. Prince was funny. He was really cool — he’s one of the last guys with a real mystique. We were all like, “Where the fuck is Minneapolis? Who are these guys?” I saw the Purple Rain tour from the last row of the arena. It was one of my first concerts. We all wore purple. I forget which girl I went with, but I didn’t get laid. Anyway, I’ve been lucky to sit in the last row and to sit on stage with the guy. He’s the best there is. Thirty years later, there’s nothing remotely close.”