Could it be that the master notorious for controlling every part of the mix and playing every instrument, the genius musician who, in a 30+ year career, has only been heard on a song he didn’t produce completely himself three, maybe four times now has a creative partner?
It’s a really interesting article – an anything that gives some insight into the method behind the man is relative gold-dust. However…
One of the things I love about Prince is his auteur approach – despite being criticised by Quincy Jones for it – the fact that he writes the lyrics, conceives all the parts, plays everything, and produces the record (short of engineering the mix) is mind-blowingly impressive, especially considering his output, and a big influence on me as a veritable one-man-band. Even when being influenced by Wendy & Lisa during the Revolution years, farming out orchestral arrangements to Clare Fischer and crediting Alan Leeds, Atlanta Bliss and Michael B Nelson for additional horns (apparently he’d usually pitch them parts on keyboards), all the extra musicians acted as a conduit for Prince’s pre-existing creative ideas.
But now, after a few years of records with tracks that seem a bit like ‘writing on auto-pilot’, it seems like he’s either taking a break from 38 years of artistic outpouring and jumping on ideas laid out for him in a production-line fashion (this has been the other way round in the past, most notably with songs like Strange Relationship and infamously with Kiss), or he’s run out of ideas – which would be a tragedy, but perhaps for most other people not unreasonable. It’s been mentioned in the past as saying the contents of ‘The Vault’ are for him to retire on.
Prince has a history of ‘mentoring’ various artists from Vanity 6 to Sheila E to Sheena Easton to Carmen Electra to Lianne La Havas (for better or worse) and perhaps taking young Joshua under his wing is another example of this. There’s also another possibility that taking on a new creative partner who’s more in touch with contemporary trends in music is an attempt to reach a new audience, as seemed to be prevalent with absorbing Doug E. Fresh and Tony M. into the NPG to give the sound a Hip-Hop flavour in the ’90s.
Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to grab my own copy of HITNRUN: PHASE ONE yet, but from what I’ve heard of it, and the Art Official Age record from last year, whilst some of the tracks do have some stank on them they don’t really sound as vibrant and (pretention alert!) expansive as some of His Royal Badness’ previous output even in the last 10 years – though they do seems to have a new energy to them, which could be attributed to Welton. From reading the nature of the collaorative approach in the article, this seems to make sense.
The Jury’s out – I’ll have to listen to more work from the duo to make my mind up.