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Prince - Welcome 2 America (Album Review)

Thursday, 05 August 2021 Written by Rebecca Llewellyn

Some buildings are more than bricks and mortar. Prince’s Paisley Park complex is one of them. Located 20 miles or so outside Minneapolis, it’s where Prince recorded the majority of his albums and, day after day, poured music out of himself tirelessly.

Alongside the LPs that emerged from the studio were countless demos and b-sides, quirky experiments, and hours of projects spanning myriad genres. These seemingly lost musings had been locked away by the late funk legend himself, hidden inside Paisley Park’s vault. Until now. 

‘Welcome 2 America’ becomes the first full album of unreleased Prince tracks to be shared posthumously. Originally intended to land somewhere between 2010 and 2011, the record was shelved, leaving a tour of the same name to carry on without its intended ballast.

Yet this album, destined for release more than a decade ago, has become more resonant upon its actual arrival. ‘Welcome 2 America’ grapples with a tech-obsessed society, sneers at our celebrity-crazed culture and stands strong against racial oppression. Sound familiar?

The opening title track purrs in true Prince style, as spoken segments latch onto our minds: “Mass media, information overload, welcome to America.” Never one to shy away from controversy, he plays around with his dislike of the internet era and aspects of modernity that have quickly become everyday American norms. We are “distracted by the features of the iPhone.”

But ‘Welcome 2 America’ cuts through this, feeling timeless, by encapsulating everything that we love about Prince. Meaningful, and sometimes tongue in cheek, lyrics prowl out in head-spinning fashion. Music twists and turns, from funk to R&B, with shred solos from Prince’s prized guitar for good measure.

Serious notions underpin ‘Welcome 2 America’ but Prince ensured the album was peppered with joyful gems to provide gorgeous, uplifting empowerment. The sexiness of When She Comes, and the spark of fun in Hot Summer remind us how he had always been able to combine two sides of his personality so well. 

We can only wait with bated breath to discover what else may be released from Prince’s vault, in months or even years to come. A true inspiration, creative genius, and one hell of a showman, the legacy of Prince will surely live on forever.


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