266: Undisputed

Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999) / Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic (2001)
A lot of noise has been generated about Prince’s forays into hip-hop and how he was deemed to have lost his way once he started chasing trends instead of setting them. Undisputed is his defiant response and answers accusations that he’s out of touch with the killer line “My dear, I AM the touch”. To underscore this he dusts off his signature Linn drum, unseen since the late 80s, heralding a prodigal return that prompts the line “once again, back is the incredible”, leading to the author of said line being invited to deliver a guest verse. (Fun fact: I used to live with someone who believed the preceding couplet on Bring the Noise was “bass, how low can you go / death row water buffalo” and now I can’t hear otherwise.) This collaboration followed years of mutual backslapping between Prince and Chuck D and the appearance of the Public Enemy frontman is met with a burst of chicken grease guitar that truly gilds the cherry on the pudding. Not so for the Moneyopolis mix, which has the chicken grease in high supply but is like walking in on an argument that doesn’t concern you. On this remix Prince rages at an unknown perceived betrayal and you can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t for your ears. There’s suggestions that D’Angelo is the intended recipient due to comments he had in his Voodoo album’s liner notes. These notes, written by Saul Williams but uncredited, called into question Prince’s quality control and described half of his output as shit because he lacks new inspiration and has to serve as his own. If true then what better retort than his critic smackdown that already mentions D’Angelo. Of course there may be nothing in it and the remix could just be an attempt to replicate Bring the Noise’s unbridled testosterone, but unfortunately either way it descends into petulance. You’re much better sticking with the original where, whether his inspiration is Public Enemy or himself in the past, you can’t dispute that whoever decides to throw in a classical harpsichord solo for kicks is certainly not chasing trends or painting by numbers.