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Thread started 10/17/20 5:11pm

thebanishedone

What made Prince compromise with his art?

During the whole decade of the 80's Prince was redefining musical landscapes

without any fear he was pushing the enveloupe.

But starting with the 1991 Diamonds And Pearls Prince incorporated rap into his sound

and overall dumbed his sound to make it safe.I think we can agree

that Diamonds And Pearls is Prince at his safest ,a far cry from the 1980-1988 daring artist.

Why Prince start with compromises when it comes to his music?

Was it being disillusion with his own vision?

Getting scared from the new sounds coming from the streets that he couldn't relate to?

Financial loss from commercial flops of his projects or something else?

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Reply #1 posted 10/17/20 5:33pm

joyinrepetitio
n

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Prince knew that rap scene was coming on strong in the early 90's, so he tried to embrace it. The mistake I think he made was not collaborating with an established rapper like LL Cool J or somebody. It would have made his efforts more legit.

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Reply #2 posted 10/17/20 7:30pm

wilmer

I guess Prince maybe felt he needed to prove that the commercial success of Purple Rain was not a fluke. After a string of critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing albums, maybe there was even pressure from the label to put out something that re-established him as a commercially successful artist. Maybe, that's why he hired Frank DiLeo who Mike Jack had cut loose. I agree he should have reached out to a bona fide rapper. That Tony M was wack as hell.
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Reply #3 posted 10/17/20 7:43pm

airth

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I understand the point you're try to make, but I don't go along with the premise that rap dumbed down his sound and made it safe. I didn't feel that way when I first heard Gett Off or Sexy Motherfucker. They sounded fresh and exciting to me and everyone else I knew back then.

I didn't like the Diamonds and Pearls album, but it wasn't the rap that particularly bothered me. It was the whole approach to the production. But it worked. He pulled in the money he needed. I was disappointed, but plenty of people loved it.

It kind of pisses me off when people say he should have used established rappers. I don't get it. Why would anyone want him to sound like everything else that was out there? People didn't say he should have made his rock sound like Van Halen or his soul like Marvin Gaye. Prince was Prince.

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Reply #4 posted 10/17/20 7:50pm

LoveGalore

Prince didn't dumb down his sound though. Those albums are still better than most of the shit out at the time. And what he lacked in skill with certain genres like rap, he made up for with his sincerity (IMO).

Prince was a pop artist first. The rock and rnb and funk came second. So him updating his sound to something current is not that crazy.
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Reply #5 posted 10/17/20 8:24pm

OperatingTheta
n

Prince updated his sound, had one of his most bestselling albums and gained a new generation of fans. I frankly don't percieve any compromise of his art at all.

Is Morris Day truly deeper than Tony M or is it merely a matter of taste? The rap style of the early 90s dated quickly, but lyrically much of Tony M's material on the 'Gold Nigga' album for example, is much more socially conscious than anything by The Time. It's just a matter of preferences and production.
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Reply #6 posted 10/17/20 10:41pm

Margot

I don't think he dumbed down his music.

IMO, he was too removed from the streets and was ambivalent about rap but knew it was popular.

The Zeitgeist had changed, as it does, and likely messed with his confidence.

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Reply #7 posted 10/18/20 12:19am

BartVanHemelen

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wilmer said:

maybe there was even pressure from the label to put out something that re-established him as a commercially successful artist.

.

Prince's contract was up for renewal, he wanted the biggest ever (being deeply jealous of the types Madonna and MJ were getting) and thus he focused on delivering a highly commercial album and promoting it via an actual world tour and interviews etc., showing WBR that he could be worth their while. And then he got a huge contract (and HE inflated it in press releases etc.), and then he got pissed when he returned to business as usual and discovered that half-assing it doesn't result in selling five million copies (which TBH was not that great a result considering the investment), and then started blaming WBR for "not doing their job" and then discovered that he had negociated a mediocre deal (which his entourage had told him but which he had ignored) and then the whole "boohoo I'm a slave" bullshit happened.

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This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
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Reply #8 posted 10/18/20 1:16am

ForceofNature

thebanishedone said:

During the whole decade of the 80's Prince was redefining musical landscapes

without any fear he was pushing the enveloupe.

But starting with the 1991 Diamonds And Pearls Prince incorporated rap into his sound

and overall dumbed his sound to make it safe.I think we can agree

that Diamonds And Pearls is Prince at his safest ,a far cry from the 1980-1988 daring artist.

Why Prince start with compromises when it comes to his music?

Was it being disillusion with his own vision?

Getting scared from the new sounds coming from the streets that he couldn't relate to?

Financial loss from commercial flops of his projects or something else?

I never really saw Diamonds and Pearls as dumbed down harmonically, just different and incorporating different sounds. Bringing the New Jack Swing into it all

Prince definitely threw a lot of "contractual obligation" quality songs into the '90s and a lot of times seemingly out of spite rather than "this is all I have to say creatively". But I never got the impression like the was dissilusioned, scared, any of those things. Just in a different musical head space and wanting to try out many of the new sonic toys the new decade had to offer

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Reply #9 posted 10/18/20 1:24am

thebanishedone

airth said:

I understand the point you're try to make, but I don't go along with the premise that rap dumbed down his sound and made it safe. I didn't feel that way when I first heard Gett Off or Sexy Motherfucker. They sounded fresh and exciting to me and everyone else I knew back then.

I didn't like the Diamonds and Pearls album, but it wasn't the rap that particularly bothered me. It was the whole approach to the production. But it worked. He pulled in the money he needed. I was disappointed, but plenty of people loved it.

It kind of pisses me off when people say he should have used established rappers. I don't get it. Why would anyone want him to sound like everything else that was out there? People didn't say he should have made his rock sound like Van Halen or his soul like Marvin Gaye. Prince was Prince.

I'm not saying he simplified things because of hip hop.But he did make a safe album ,manufactured with hits on his mind
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Reply #10 posted 10/18/20 1:47am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

Insecurity
Second guessing himself
Competitiveness and needing to get a hit both for his ego and to pay the paisley park Bill's
Not selling as much as in 84. He kept trying to get back to that.
But also, prince has always been a pop artist. Hes always thinking commercially. Left field indie artistry was never going to be fir him. He wanted to be popular, not underground or obscure. He needed that. All that happened was that in the 90s he stopped caring about art and just wanted to be an entertainer. Still in his own way but he didnt want to expand his music or risk very much anymore. He didnt have that confidence with his sales down.
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Reply #11 posted 10/18/20 2:31am

Strive

joyinrepetition said:

Prince knew that rap scene was coming on strong in the early 90's, so he tried to embrace it. The mistake I think he made was not collaborating with an established rapper like LL Cool J or somebody. It would have made his efforts more legit.


Big Daddy Kane was on a Batdance remix but WB didn't want to release it.

"When you deny people the option to not pick a side, you may not like the side they'll pick."
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Reply #12 posted 10/18/20 3:36am

SantanaMaitrey
a

thebanishedone said:

During the whole decade of the 80's Prince was redefining musical landscapes


without any fear he was pushing the enveloupe.


But starting with the 1991 Diamonds And Pearls Prince incorporated rap into his sound


and overall dumbed his sound to make it safe.I think we can agree


that Diamonds And Pearls is Prince at his safest ,a far cry from the 1980-1988 daring artist.


Why Prince start with compromises when it comes to his music?


Was it being disillusion with his own vision?


Getting scared from the new sounds coming from the streets that he couldn't relate to?


Financial loss from commercial flops of his projects or something else?


He may have sung that money don't matter, but it does. It's one thing to record in your basement studio, but quite another to own a huge studio complex with staff to pay. He needed money! And the best way to earn it, was to go with the hip hop flow. If you can't beat them, join them.
[Edited 10/18/20 3:37am]
O tempora! O mores!
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Reply #13 posted 10/18/20 3:48am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

Nobody bought his attempt to adopt hip hop cool in the 90s

at the same time theres still a lot of music he made then that has little to do with hip hop
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Reply #14 posted 10/18/20 3:57am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

Strive said:



joyinrepetition said:


Prince knew that rap scene was coming on strong in the early 90's, so he tried to embrace it. The mistake I think he made was not collaborating with an established rapper like LL Cool J or somebody. It would have made his efforts more legit.




Big Daddy Kane was on a Batdance remix but WB didn't want to release it.




Weird considering they were ok with cat rapping, then Tc Ellis and Tony m
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Reply #15 posted 10/18/20 4:35am

OperatingTheta
n

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

Nobody bought his attempt to adopt hip hop cool in the 90s

at the same time theres still a lot of music he made then that has little to do with hip hop


Except they did and he sold bucket loads. 'Gett Off' is far from an attempt and was massively successful, particularly in Europe, where Prince was at the zenith of his popularity from 91-93.
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Reply #16 posted 10/18/20 4:56am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

A great single but not a hip hop song

Ie not jughead, push, the flow etc.
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Reply #17 posted 10/18/20 7:25am

alandail

strange album to ask that question. Gett Off wan't reinventing himself and pusing the envelope? Strollin, Willing and Able (I love, love the video version of this), Walk Don't Walk, Money don't matter tonight was following trends?

And 2 albums later Come certainly wasn't following trends.

First(only?) time I ever thought he was trying too hard to manufacture a hit was Rave. From the way I heard it at the time, he had an album, then record label asked for changes. Every change I heard about I htought made the album worse.

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Reply #18 posted 10/18/20 7:31am

thebanishedone

alandail said:

strange album to ask that question. Gett Off wan't reinventing himself and pusing the envelope? Strollin, Willing and Able (I love, love the video version of this), Walk Don't Walk, Money don't matter tonight was following trends?



And 2 albums later Come certainly wasn't following trends.



First(only?) time I ever thought he was trying too hard to manufacture a hit was Rave. From the way I heard it at the time, he had an album, then record label asked for changes. Every change I heard about I htought made the album worse.



Diamonds And Pearls album is very standard "normal" album omitted of all the weirdness that usually followed Prince.Gett Off is the most unique sounding song but the rest was standard pop soul soft rock music
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Reply #19 posted 10/18/20 7:50am

RJOrion

the "real" Prince was his first 2 lps...if anything he compromised/sacrificed that sound to become a superstar...then when he got to the mountaintop, he didnt like the view, and spent the rest of his career/life trying to find himself again...WB wanted him to be the overthetop promiscuous gender bending racially ambiguous act he became, and in return they gave him the world...when he realized he was just a pawn in WB's bigger agenda, he realized he was just a slave...it wasnt just about lp releases and creative control over projects like Crystal Ball...the lyrics of "U Know" is telling u how the entertainment industry can enslave you through tactics like blackmail...lyrically and sonically, AOA was the least compromised Prince lp ever... he giving alot of inside info in tbis lp, even if u have to read between some lines at times
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Reply #20 posted 10/18/20 7:52am

OperatingTheta
n

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

A great single but not a hip hop song

Ie not jughead, push, the flow etc.


I think we'd both agree that 'Jughead' is an exception... wink 'Call the Law' was far superior, I think.
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Reply #21 posted 10/18/20 8:02am

FUNKNROLL

Margot said:

I don't think he dumbed down his music.


IMO, he was too removed from the streets and was ambivalent about rap but knew it was popular.


The Zeitgeist had changed, as it does, and likely messed with his confidence.



His sound wasn’t dumbed down and it wasn’t authentic because he was selling “Prince does rap” to an audience that would buy it. Prince famously said if you want to make a hit, the music needs to be almost a kids song to be catchy/memorable. His target market for that album was predominantly late 20s / early 30s white folks that liked the idea of Prince being daring, but (they) had aged appropriately since Prince’s Purple Rain heyday. They weren’t spending time in clubs or out in the streets all night like when they were much younger. They had responsibilities and kids now. The album lacked street edginess because that was a bridge too far for that demographic. Not because Prince lacked firsthand insight into the plight of black folks. This is what we call selling out.

Perhaps it’s more fair to compare D&P with the love symbol album. Of those two, which one was more “street”? Both were sell outs but I say the love symbol album.
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Reply #22 posted 10/18/20 8:03am

kingricefan

Is compromise just a different way of saying 'sell out'? I don't know about you guys but I would rather have the delight in buying a new Prince album at the 'wrecka sto' than to see him end up playing a guitar panhandling on the streets of Minneapolis. So what if he compromised. Many artists have done the same thing. IIRC Dolly Parton got a lot of flack for singing 9 to 5 and 'crossing over/selling out' back in the day. The Stones were villified for doing Miss You. The group Kiss was lambasted for releasing Beth which became one of their biggest hits. Taylor Swift was frowned upon when she released her first non-country album. Garth Brooks created an alter ego and released a rock album. Pat Boone released a rock album to revive his career but that bombed. Linda Rondstat released a punk rock album. Artists need to change with the times and stretch their musical abilities or they are left behind and forgotten. Where are all of the 'glam rock' groups today? Artists need to pay bills just like the rest of us do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

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Reply #23 posted 10/18/20 9:21am

Graycap23

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Prince evolved.

Next question.

FOOLS multiply when WISE Men & Women are silent.
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Reply #24 posted 10/18/20 9:44am

rednblue

RJOrion said:

the "real" Prince was his first 2 lps...if anything he compromised/sacrificed that sound to become a superstar...then when he got to the mountaintop, he didnt like the view, and spent the rest of his career/life trying to find himself again...WB wanted him to be the overthetop promiscuous gender bending racially ambiguous act he became, and in return they gave him the world...when he realized he was just a pawn in WB's bigger agenda, he realized he was just a slave...it wasnt just about lp releases and creative control over projects like Crystal Ball...the lyrics of "U Know" is telling u how the entertainment industry can enslave you through tactics like blackmail...lyrically and sonically, AOA was the least compromised Prince lp ever... he giving alot of inside info in tbis lp, even if u have to read between some lines at times


Totally agree that even though Lenny and Mo may have been a little out of the mold, the record business was a toxic place for artists. Just like other parts of the entertainment industry, it surely would have LOVED to see a Purple Rain II. You note "WB wanted him to be the overthetop promiscuous gender bending racially ambiguous act he became." If this is what people found in Purple Rain, then surely a record company would want more, more, more of those (and all other) parts of the Purple Rain stuff.

But what about earlier? Though I'm way more ignorant of the community where Prince grew up than I should be, I've tried to learn a little, and I get that "gender bending racially ambiguous act" was NOT associated with what was going on in that community.

As an aside, when I first heard and saw Prince, my mind didn't go anywhere "racially ambiguous." Not at all. That said, I wasn't reading anything music-related at the time, so I was only going by music, album covers, radio, etc. Nothing would have brought that concept to mind in any serious (as in maybe part of a gaining power for larger reach/distribution strategy) form before I did start reading a while later, and that was post-Dirty Mind.

The lyrics of Controversy struck me, rightly or wrongly, as having obvious answers. As in, Prince was black, was attracted to women, and was a believer (in God). Maybe it was wrong to have assumed theses things based on music and visuals, but that's what I did.

Anyway, about Dirty Mind...if that was a gender bending album cover, wasn't that Prince's initiative, and not at all initially a concept of Warners? Never thought what's sometimes called "gender bending" stuff had anything to do with what Warners was pushing. I thought it was Prince's initiative and push. Is that not correct?

Not trying to suggest what Prince's purpose was with any of that stuff.

With the first two albums, I thought that, despite the jaw-dropping autonomy he demanded and received, Prince said that a decent amount of his real self was pushed aside to "a different way." Is that also untrue?

I have the impression that after the Prince album, Warners wasn't expecting or hoping for a Dirty Mind, and that the prospect of Dirty Mind had Warners a little concerned/nervous.

I have the same impression about the time when Warners was introduced to Around the World in a Day.

In both cases, it seemed like Warners was hoping for something closer to what came before (Prince, Purple Rain) than what Prince brought next (Dirty Mind, ATWIAD).

With AOA, would love to read more about what you hear between the lines. Even I (with my lack of cultural, etc. sophistication) thought I heard some "stuff between the lines." It was stuff that IMO was mostly ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations, but if Prince still had me and others wondering at his mystery, I'd venture to guess he'd have been pleased. Do love AOA. To me, it's a wondrous mix of touching, fun, dirty, ethereal, otherworldly, etc. Not to mention the word play that's there from the start with that title. Guessing you're a fan for entirely different characteristics, but glad I've got good taste, whatever the reasons. : )

[Edited 10/18/20 16:42pm]

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Reply #25 posted 10/18/20 9:54am

Nuernberg72

Prince never did a rap album. D&P isn't my favorite album, but it's never a rap album. For me, gett off is one of his best singles. His rap in Sexy Mf is extremely cool! why many say prince tried to make rap music is bullshit for me. it was just a few songs. and in the end, prince simply needed money too!
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Reply #26 posted 10/18/20 10:07am

SantanaMaitrey
a

OperatingThetan said:

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

Nobody bought his attempt to adopt hip hop cool in the 90s

at the same time theres still a lot of music he made then that has little to do with hip hop


Except they did and he sold bucket loads. 'Gett Off' is far from an attempt and was massively successful, particularly in Europe, where Prince was at the zenith of his popularity from 91-93.

I would say that was from 1986-1990. Prince was the coolest of the cool, a big hype at the time of Sign O' the Times and Lovesexy. And that hype was already dying down when he did the Nude Tour, although he could still sell tickets. Diamonds & Pearls was a hit, but fans and critics weren't raving about him like they used to. There was a sense of: he is still good, but not as original as it used to be.
[Edited 10/18/20 10:10am]
[Edited 10/18/20 10:12am]
O tempora! O mores!
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Reply #27 posted 10/18/20 10:21am

OperatingTheta
n

SantanaMaitreya said:

OperatingThetan said:



Except they did and he sold bucket loads. 'Gett Off' is far from an attempt and was massively successful, particularly in Europe, where Prince was at the zenith of his popularity from 91-93.

I would say that was from 1986-1990. Prince was the coolest of the cool, a big hype at the time of Sign O' the Times and Lovesexy. And that hype was already dying down when he did the Nude Tour, although he could still sell tickets. Diamonds & Pearls was a hit, but fans and critics weren't raving about him like they used to. There was a sense of: he is still good, but not as original as it used to be.
[Edited 10/18/20 10:10am]
[Edited 10/18/20 10:12am]


I appreciate your point critically, but in the UK for example, Prince's biggest selling single gig in terms of numbers and size of venue was when he sold out Wembley Stadium in 1993. His only UK number one single was 'TMBGITW' in 1994.
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Reply #28 posted 10/18/20 10:24am

herb4

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Same thing as every other artist really. Money, plain and simple.

It's always a fine line between artistic integrity and economic reality. Most artists who've never "sold out" have never truly been asked to in my experience.

Batman was the first time I got a real whiff of it from Prince and then, D&P, while maybe not a "sell out" was obviously aimed at commercial success.

All artists are forced to compromise their vision at some point.

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Reply #29 posted 10/18/20 11:23am

SantanaMaitrey
a

OperatingThetan said:

SantanaMaitreya said:


I would say that was from 1986-1990. Prince was the coolest of the cool, a big hype at the time of Sign O' the Times and Lovesexy. And that hype was already dying down when he did the Nude Tour, although he could still sell tickets. Diamonds & Pearls was a hit, but fans and critics weren't raving about him like they used to. There was a sense of: he is still good, but not as original as it used to be.
[Edited 10/18/20 10:10am]
[Edited 10/18/20 10:12am]


I appreciate your point critically, but in the UK for example, Prince's biggest selling single gig in terms of numbers and size of venue was when he sold out Wembley Stadium in 1993. His only UK number one single was 'TMBGITW' in 1994.

Yes, but how many times did he sell out Wembley Arena in 1988 & 1990? Too many to count. Let's just say that the hype was at its biggest in the late 80s and he still had success in the early 90s.
O tempora! O mores!
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