On April 21st, 2016 one of the music industry’s most prolific artist was called home, his name is Prince a one of a kind master of music, with a style that cannot be compared to anyone else. This man has worked with every artist from icons like Mavis Staples to his very own acts like Vanity 6. Not only did he collab with some of the best, he was also known and respected for his musicianship writing, producing hell he did every damn thing when it came to his art. With a career spanning over 40 years, Prince has produced almost an album a year albeit as a solo act, with backing bands The Revolution and New Power Generation or under an entirely new identity altogether. A catalog like his is pretty large even for the most devout fan but there are quite a few records of his that are worth having in your personal collection. Now these five aren’t necessarily the best by the artist, however, these are some of his most commercially and critically successful.But with a work ethic like his we are sure to have at least a few decades of new music in the coming years.
This 1991 double platinum gem was the first by the purple one I ever got my hands on, I remember being 12 walking in an old Sam Goody at my local mall looking for old school CD’s to make mixes for a family reunion back in ’02. I remember grabbing some Michael, Rick, Donna and I was on the hunt for some Prince music, I only saw the Batman soundtrack and was immediately disappointed with the lack of options for him, until the clerk pulls out “Diamonds and Pearls”, I was familiar with the title track (my all time favorite by the way) but didn’t know what album it had been on at the time. This was also the first time I had heard of his band The New Power Generation (also their album debut). I wasn’t prepared for the provocative nature of the lyrical content featured on the album but then again I was a 12 year old boy and anything related to sex always sparked my interest. The album is a nonstop dance record, my favorite is the opening cut “Thunder” , that instantly had me hooked for more, but some of the later cuts on the album stand out such as the groovy “Push” and the tango-infused “Willing and Able”. Not only is the energy high on this record nonstop but the content flows just as fluid.
Like many artists, a self-titled project can either be a breakthrough or a bust, but for Prince his 1979 sophomore effort somewhat falls in the middle. While it wasn’t a monster success across the world and didn’t immediately generate glowing reviews like his later work, still it is the host to some of the singer’s most iconic songs in particularly “I Feel For You” which ended up being a signature song for another iconic soul singer by the name of Chaka Khan. The album is responsible for one of his first big hits with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” which peaked at #13 on the Hot R&B Singles, and still get’s constant rotations on the old school stations this day.
“Two thousand 00, party over oops! Out of time.” Considered the breakthrough album of his career this was his most successful album yet, selling 4 million copies in the States and knocking out hits like the seductive “Little Red Corvette” and the upbeat title track, this album represents the Prince we know and loved throughout the 80’s in fact this is the album that paved the way for the use of synths in Black music and even inspired the late Rick James to ‘borrow’ his sound for his next releases in the 80s. Despite being released a month before the greatest selling album of all time, 1999 still held up as a timeless classic even when the singer went on to bigger and better things.
Speaking of Bigger and better, way before Kanye’s “Runaway” and Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”, there was “Purple Rain” his first with the Revolution and one of the first musical movies produced by a black recording artist. While we can talk about the film for days, I would like to focus solely on the album itself, spawning chart-toppers like “Let’s Go Crazy” and arguably his signature song “When Doves Cry” this album consisted of his most commercially successful music to date. Hit records aside songs like the provocative “Darling Nikki” about a girl getting it on with herself and later the Artist in a hotel lobby or the power ballad “Purple Rain” that’ll make anyone cry no matter how tough think you are. This album steers from his previous Funk music to a more Glam-rock style like that of many acts in the 80’s but what everyone lacked in quality Prince made up for it with his quick and witty dance numbers transitioning into smooth soul stirring ballads. On top of being where I got my namesake (I’ve been going by Purple since I was 17), this album went platinum 13-times over, snatched an Academy Award for best Original Score and Two Grammy’s One for Best Score and Best Rock Album.
Out of all of his later work “3121” is a must-have for any music lover, released only a decade ago this body of work still holds tough despite being released in a year when everyone was “leaning with it” and “rocking with it”. Lead by the sexy dance number “Black Sweat” the album ended up becoming the first of his 31 album at the time to debut at number 1, he did have albums that reached the top spot but this was the first to come #1 out of the gate, selling 183,436 copies it’s first week. While out of many of his albums this seems to be the more tame in terms of sound and that’s what makes it great, it’s very reminiscent of his self-titled album being short, sweet and to the point. Prince went on to release eight mre studio albums up until this year, but it’s something very classic about this one in particular.
Didn’t see your favorite on here? Let us know what’s your favorite body of work by Prince in the comments below!