The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson has delivered a treasure trove of material from the late singer's mythically enormous vault since he passed almost five years ago. From super deluxe and extravagant boxsets of the seminal 1999 and Sign O' The Times albums to incredible unearthed and pieced together albums of unreleased finished songs, demos, studio outtakes, unreleased - you name it, we got it.
But now, the estate has announced a first for over-eager consumers of the Purple One's private archives - a full, unreleased album - Welcome 2 America. The first being that it's completely finished as Prince intended it to be heard (had he wanted it heard), straight off the shelf within the vault where he left it and directly to our ears.
We'll never know why Prince abruptly changed his mind about releasing the album. It was recorded over a decade ago around 2010 with a version of the New Power Generation lineup from that circa at his Paisley Park Studios, after which he embarked on his Welcome 2 America tour in 2011, which then culminated into a hugely successful and now historic 21 Nite Stand at Inglewood, California's the Forum. Songs from the shelved record were performed during these shows, but the album never eventuated. Weirdly, another completely different album entitled 20Ten emerged around that time and 2.5 million copies of it were distributed via The Daily Mirror and The Daily Record, a small gesture within Prince's attack of the record industry and an innovative loophole to land him atop the charts without selling a single record.
The socially-conscious title track has been released and it's a loping, intergalactic funk jam with spoken-word lyrics that feature lyrics shining a critical spotlight on the US and its culture where he characterises it as the "Land of the free / home of the slave.
Famously resistant to internet culture, the song harks back to the early '90s when Prince cast himself as the enslaved to his record label, articulately scrawling 'SLAVE' on the side of his face for any public appearances. Here, we frames the US
typically arch and withering examination of a US characterised as the “Land of the free / home of the slave” – harking back to the early 1990s when Prince cast himself as enslaved to his record label Warner.
The album is reported to house 11 Prince originals and a cover of Soul Asylum’s 'Stand Up and B Strong' and comes with a plethora of extras for the enthusiasts.
After recording the album with his 2011-era New Power Generation lineup at his Paisley Park Studios, Prince embarked on his Welcome 2 America tour in 2011, which culminated in his historic 21 Nite Stand at Inglewood, California’s the Forum. Never-before-released concert video from the April 28th, 2011 gig from that residency features on the deluxe edition of the Welcome 2 America.
Famously resistant to internet culture, Prince frames the US as being “where everything and nothing that Google says is hip” and subject to digital surveillance, its citizens “distracted by the features of the iPhone … Hook up later at the iPad / or we can meet at my place.”
And who was digging at back then when he says “Go to school to become a celebrity, but don’t be late / Because everybody and their mama got a sex tape.” He concludes that the country’s global power is waning: “You can either learn Chinese / or get down on your knees.” OUCH!
He told prospective ticket holders of the Welcome 2 America tour to “Bring friends, bring Ur children, and bring foot spray, because … it’s gonna B funky.” He also warned: “The world is fraught with misin4mation. George Orwell’s vision of the future is here.”
As for the package/s themselves - a standard 2LP version will be available, but the gold comes with a deluxe version which will feature the double record with an etched design on the fourth side), a previously unreleased concert film of a 2011 Prince gig at The Forum in Inglewood, California, a 23-song set that includes cover versions of Bob Dylan’s 'Make You Feel My Love', Janet Jackson’s 'What Have You Done For Me Lately', and, closing the show, Roxy Music’s 'More Than This'. It will also feature a 32-page book, photographic art print, poster and replica items from the era: a sticker, setlist, ticket, VIP invitation and backstage passes.
The release will excite fans eager for the release of further archive material, drawn from Prince’s vault, that required drilling into after his death in 2016 – reportedly only he had the code to access it.
PRINCE | WELCOME 2 AMERICA | OUT JULY 30