Prince
The Black Album
(Warner Bros. 45793)

The story of The Black Album is more interesting than the music, which is pretty much Prince after-hours funk jammin' with some middle-school rappin' thrown in and the requisite ballad ("When 2 R in Love," which was also on Lovesexy). If anything, it prefigures what he'd be doing with the New Power Generation throughout the 90s. So don't buy into the "Prince decided not to release it because it was so dark!!!!" stuff.

Some say he actually scrapped it after an MDMA experience – certainly that would explain the headlong dive into joy that was Lovesexy. It's just as likely, though, that he canceled the release simply because it's not a very good album.

"Bob George" is the big one here, one of his "funny voice" narratives a la "Cloreen Bacon Skin" off Crystal Ball. The rest is pretty much "let's have a slammin' party, y'all!" "Cindy C." is more ridiculous now than then, as Cindy Crawford's stock has plummeted worse than an online mint company in 1999. Maybe I'll do an updated version about that girl from The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which will date equally poorly, but even more quickly.

Prince spends loads of time trying to make fun of rappers on this record, but history has been much kinder to the people he was trying to mock than to The Black Album. Truly, it's an album whose existence alone is its primary appeal.

By the time it finally got released in 1994, the world had moved on, and so had Prince, leaving The Black Album a curiosity that no one really ever pulls out to throw on the ol' hi-fi. "Man, I have to hear 'Le Grind'!!!!!!!" You know?

Review by Heidi Headgiver