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Albums Of The Week: Prince | Welcome 2 America

The late legend's latest achival release delivers a musical state of the union.

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There’s quantity. And then there’s quality. During Prince‘s lifetime, few artists in any musical genre could match his output in either respect. To the surprise of no one, he continues to outperform the competition even five years after his death. The sorely missed musical genius continues his posthumous winning streak with Welcome 2 America, the latest release pulled from his infamous (and apparently bottomless) vault.

Originally recorded and shelved in 2010, it’s one of the Minneapolis legend’s more thoughtful and topical outings. As the title suggests, it’s something of a musical state of the union, with songs about race, sexism, social justice, civil rights and politics in his homeland. Which makes it sound far drier and duller than it is. After all, Prince‘s unfailing sense of melody and groove could turn legislative boilerplate into a funk throwdown. So even if the lyrics don’t get you, the grooves will. And on the off-chance they don’t, well, there’s always next time. Or the one after that.

 


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Welcome 2 America is a powerful creative statement that documents Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice.

On the title track, Prince delivers a searing, spoken-word soliloquy set to music about golden parachutes, the superficial nature of social media, reality TV-fueled celebrity culture, and corporate monopolies in the music industry, ultimately concluding that America is the “Land of the free / home of the slave.”

Shortly after completing the Welcome 2 America album, Prince embarked on a unique tour of the same name that included multiple performances in several U.S. cities, capped off by the historic 21 Nite Stand at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The Welcome 2 America Deluxe Edition includes the complete studio vault album on both CD and black vinyl (accompanied with a hi-res digital download) plus a never-before-released full concert video of Prince’s April 28, 2011 show at The Forum, presented in 1080p HD with stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos audio. All vinyl editions will have music on three sides with a collectible etching on the fourth side.

Welcome 2 America features some of Prince’s only studio collaborations with bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, drummer Chris Coleman, and Grammy-nominated engineer Jason Agel, with additional contributions from New Power Generation singers Shelby J., Liv Warfield and Elisa Fiorillo, and keyboardist Morris Hayes, who Prince also recruited to co-produce several tracks on the album.

The live concert video features Prince performing with his 2011-era lineup of the New Power Generation, including additional keyboardists Renato Neto and Cassandra O’Neal, bassist Ida Nielsen, drummer John Blackwell and dancers Maya and Nandy McClean (The Twinz). Captured midway through his marathon run in Inglewood, this performance documents the spontaneity and incendiary energy of that historic portion of the Welcome 2 America Tour — an audiovisual testament to the proclamation he made at the launch of the tour in October 2010, stating “Bring friends, bring Ur children, and bring foot spray, because… it’s gonna B funky.” The performance features a cameo by Grammy winner Ledisi and covers of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love and Roxy Music’s More Than This alongside Prince favorites including 17 Days, Controversy, 1999, and Purple Rain.”