One bit of errata: I mistakenly said "Do Me Baby" features on Dirty Mind, when it obviously comes from that album's followup Controversy. If you spot other mistakes, let me know.
Here's a description of last week's show:
Though their respective rises to commercial and artistic prominence ran basically synchronous courses through the 80s (in terms of continual MTV and radio dominance), the dual phenomena of Prince and hip-hop have always had a somewhat testy relationship. True, the artist formerly known as The Artist has paid odd tributes to the genre in his own inimitable way, starting with his hiring of a rapper (Tony M.) to fill out his early-90s NPG collective and later asserting during one of his myriad “comebacks” that “If it ain’t Chuck D or Jam Master Jay, know what?/They’re losing” in the lyrics for the 2004 golden age celebration “Musicology.” Prince obviously knew and appreciated the contributions of hip-hop, even as his tastes tended to veer sharply toward the old-school; his own attempts at rapping demonstrate an affection for an earlier, less linguistically-sophisticated (say, circa 1982) era of the genre, during its chrysalis.
Luckily, we have a long way to go before your host is forced to go with “Prince’s Greatest Raps” as a theme, so don’t be fooled by the inaugural choice of “My Name Is Prince” (it still fits with the theme–”My Name,” one of the Purple One’s early rap numbers, itself features a sample of “I Wanna Be Your Lover”). Instead, this week’s show will focus on notable cuts which prominently (for the most part) feature samples of Prince songs. Prince wasn’t a natural part of hip-hop’s DNA from the start, the way Sly, James Brown and Parliament would have been–his beatmaking prowess was a later addition to hip-hop’s lexicon, and while there isn’t an amazing amount of prominent stuff out there, there’s still a great, unappreciated backlog of diverse hip-hop which deserves to be listened to and commented upon.
Apart from issues of timing, part of the reason that Prince samples aren’t as prominent or ubiquitous as they once were has to do with outdated sampling copyright laws, as well as Prince’s own grim history of hoarding intellectual property. Though, it’s clear that the Internet has allowed and encouraged impromptu remixes of Prince jams now more than ever (see several Girl Talk songs), by the same token the notion of a great, Prince sample-centered song seems less necessary in a pop-rap landscape where Prince tributes (think The-Dream’s last album) are a lot more common and easier to write. Most of the songs below are sort of throwbacks, in this sense, and feature all types of wonderful samples, from synths to screams to sheets of guitar noise–your host hopes some of this will be recognizable. In the listing below you will find links to the invaluable web database Whosampled, which is a great tool for cross-referencing hip-hop research. Think I missed a crucial song? Email me here.