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Questlove’s Album-By-Album Guide To Prince’s Warner Bros. Catalog

Questlove’s Album-By-Album Guide To Prince’s Warner Bros. Catalog

Questlove Shares Album-By-Album Reviews Of Prince's Catalogue [Exclusive]
Original illustration by Jaeil Cho for Okayplayer.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

Graffiti Bridge

(then) @@@@1/2 rolling stone really tried to sell us on the “best album since sign of the times” and said in the first 4 songs he covers more territory than most artist do in a career (now) @@@1/2 I’m being nice but its telling that he went DEEP in the vaults to grab highlights. weird how as a bootleg “Joy In Repetition” changed my life….but as an album cut here it’s just….squandered? regardless this ordinary rating is for the fact that the highlights were high. and lowlights were—-normal. i saw where this train was headed and i didn’t like it one bit. next stop: “just as normal as youseville”)

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

Diamonds And Pearls

(Then) @@@1/2, now @@@1/2 —this album and PE’s Apocalypse ’91 came out the same day and for the life of me i was trying to figure out why i was so damn underwhelmed by both albums. literally the 2 acts that defined my musical growth and i felt empty about it. at least with the last two there were traces of his trademarks. here they were all gone. new patches. new sounds. sampling. it was too clean. i mean his writing showed signs of brilliance still (cream, money) but man….all i could see was him tryna get that hammer money.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

Love Symbol Album

(Then) @@@1/2 now @@@1/2 this is where i realized he was stuck in a rut and was gonna stay there. flashes of brilliance and then heaps of head scratching. this is when i started making my custom mixes: example: on “3 Chains Of Gold” i faded the song out right when the best part (the slow middle) was gonna go into this “see i can do “Bohemian Rhapsody” too Mike Myers! lemme get some “Wayne’s World” loot too!” mode. once i conditioned myself to accept that this was his sound, i forced myself to like “Sexy MF”—and i like it on its own terms. i liked “Damn U” and “Sweet Baby” again the songwriting was cool. its just the production was too glossy and so ordinary sounding. i liked dirty demo sounding Prince.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

The Hits/B-Sides

Then @@@@/ now @@@1/2 they dropped the ball in digitizing his awesome Bsides, but worth purchase alone for “Power Fantastic” and the alt “Hello”. mad they didn’t include the extended versions of the 12 inches. (brag time: I have the extended version of “Irresistible Bitch” it shoulda found a home here.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue


then @@@1/2 now @@@ not mad at the upcoming throwaways. which is now telling me maybe prince is at his best when he is not so calculating and is just in work mode: by no means was this a masterpiece or holding a candle to the classic era. but “Dark” was classic. “Pheromone” got a pass for BET’s Madelyne Woods was using it as a theme to her tv show (you know the show where she had the goods) and i liked it as a 20 second sound bite. “Solo” made many a Prince mixtape. because it was less “NPGy” i gave it points (oh! Pharcyde‘s J Swift did a DOPE Dorothy Parker remix to “Letitgo”)—this is where i realized party over oops.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

The Black Album

Technically this got a ’94 contractual release, but even when he destroyed all copies there were bootlegs in our walkman by early ’88. i actually like the cassette hiss version than the “oh this is what it sounds like” version—this is Prince at his most —-abandonment? threw song songs together to press up and play at a party. when you think of it, that’s kinda cool. like “imma create some songs I wanna dance to at my babe’s bday party (Sheila E.). legend is the album was ready to go in a week to stores and on a RARE ecstasy trip regret (thanks Ing Obama) he felt guilty for the first time about the effects of being a rude boy.—-he calls WB prez Mo Ostin and demands they destroy album entirely. Mo says “too late”. Prince throws a fit. Mo complies. it was a bitter defensive album: black fans felt slighted since he became a rock star and were giving him the “are you still down?!?!?!” treatment.

he was like “bitch i made “Adore” for black radio!!!!!!!” but to no avail, the new danger in black music was hip-hop and prince didn’t get it: i play my ass off, write my ass off, I’m more talented, why would you settle for less? answer: Run-DMC looked like your next door neighbors (the same way Nirvana pulled the plug on glam rock) America too wanted the relatable spotlight—not just to worship others—hence reality shows and their “you can be a star too” element. Prince’s one embarrassing moment during the glory period was “Dead On It” sounding like that old man in New Jack City trine ta tell the kids this is poison you listening to.

See Also

it’s a comic mess. the rest of the album was indeed great mindless just messing round funk. when it came out: @@@@@ (the folklore of it made it instant classic and people only heard snippets). when it came out in ’94: @@@1/2 under the bitter circumstances i just felt like he shoulda just let the folklore continue. it was ruined. how does it hold up some 27 years later? @@@@.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

The Gold Experience

Then @@@1/2, now @@@. again it was like 4 songs were cool, the rest were —well? ordinary?. the first single offered promise (“Most Beautiful Girl” released a year early was what the doctor ordered) and then no follow up. “I Hate U” had a spark. loved “dolphin’s” ending. “Billy Jack Bitch” is a song i had to digest like a Pete Rock jawn—just concentrate on the music hard enough to morph it as an instrumental in my head. “Billy” was as close to updating his old formula as he had gotten. like a DMSR for ’95. it was becoming harder for me to like his uptempo stuff in ’95 because it all sounded so “rappidy rap”—right now he could still knock em out the park if it was mid tempo or slow or drumless. (i liked “Shy” too)—Vibe‘s Alan Light kept hyping it up like “return to forum”—-hmmmm i dunno.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

Chaos And Disorder

Then @@@@ now @@@1/2. for some reason this album was endearing to me at its release. of his “giving 0 effs to WB” period i loved this album the most. by this point i had given up hope and just hoped for the best 3 to 4 jawns to add to my Prince mix comps. this was more rock than catch up w hip-hop or whatever the kids are into trends. i genuinely like “Dinner With Delores” & “I Will” & “Had U” on its own terms. maybe there were like 2 more i could add to the list. so now instead of “classic material” i was doing the “lesser of (blah blah) evils.

Read Questlove's Album-By-Album Review Of Prince's Catalogue

The Truth

The Truth is the ONLY album in his post genius arsenal that i love like a genius period album then? @@@@ now? @@@@- this was a drum free album. so no risk of corny dated hip-hop programming and patches that made him sound like everyone else. i genuinely loved ALL the songs on the album. i wish he’d do more like this. raw and stripped down. ok I’m not ashamed: I’m going back on my feelings: @@@@1/2

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