Music Review / Prince - HitnRun (Phase One)
Let’s be honest straight off the bat: this album was rather a surprise for many people. Even for us uber Prince followers at SRCZ it took a visit to our local record store to discover it had been released. Small wonder when it was released exclusively by Jay Z’s new music streaming service Tidal early in September. Industry obsessive aside, you probably weren’t in on this exclusive from the outset. And that's a pity in some ways.
But in said vagaries of release there is joy. (Joy in repetition, one might say.) Seemingly throwing aside his reunion with Warner Bros that saw the superlative Plectrum Electrum and Art Official Age through to release in 2014, this is an NPG Records release at heart. From the gloriously eclectic production from RnB producer Joshua Welton to the glut of previously released on digital format and/or re-versioned tracks it’s a joy to listen to even if it is the equivalent of one of the side projects of the Eighties done for the beautiful hell of it.
That said, there is nothing on HitnRun to be ashamed of and it is far from a filler despite not being an obvious replacement for any of the classic albums so many rightfully rave about to this day. Rather, this record says ‘I’m an artist and I can do shit. Go listen’ Released via an artist lead project such as Tidal it can only be so and that’s a fine thing. But is it any good, you might ask. The simple answer is funk, yeah! The unrelenting electro party funk vibe is a key element here and it keeps the flow admirably. Throw in a few guests such as Judith Hill, Rita Ora and more to the groove and you can seriously see one of those famously full stages in your mind’s eye.
Key tracks include the wonderful archive song 1000 X’s & O’s (originally a Rosie Gaines track), RnB stomper Ain’t About To Stop featuring Rita Ora and the noodling about groove that is Mr Nelson. There’s even an amped up rework of This Could Be Us, improving it only slightly but making it work more intrinsically in the mix to great effect. As a whole though the album works perfectly as an extended groove of the like that Prince can seemingly throw out with a perfectly natural ease. The Purple Rain might not fall absolutely but HitnRun is nothing for anyone, including the Purple Yoda himself, to be ashamed of.