320: I Rock, Therefore I Am

Chaos and Disorder (2006)
Prince’s first ‘rock’ album contains two dance tracks that, depending on your tastes, either disrupt the flow or inject a shot of fresh energy. It’s definitely the latter for me and what I love most about the first interloper, I Rock, Therefore I Am, is it’s a brazen attempt to purposefully piss off the purists. How else do you explain that the one song mentioning ‘rock’ in its title turns out to be a rapping, toasting, pop-funk behemoth with the guitars buried way down low in the mix. And how can you ever really know if you’re actually listening to rock or if a fiendish, purple demon is tricking you? Welcome to Mendacity. I can understand the haters to a point though. There are certainly off-putting elements that I can fixate on and enlarge until they sink the whole track – namely Scrap D’s crass rap and the “rock, rock, rock” chants – and I concede that Steppa Rank’s shouted slogans of “to the maximum” and “legendary” are of a 90s vintage that hasn’t aged too well. But as an unashamed pop anthem in a murky album of snark it certainly has chutzpah. Never mind that the lyrics actually contains some of the album’s most pointed digs, with his record label, the bootleg industry and, unless I’m mistaken, the educational system all coming under fire. Yet Prince makes these grumbles sound like a triumphant war-cry of self-determinism, taking the “you gotta be all you can be” baton from Zannalee and amping it up to the maximum. Legendary. All the time. It rocks, therefore it’s rock!

  • Marc Lemay

    I thought I was a super-fan, knowing his music in and out (I alone with my own ears noticed the “Is this a dream?” buried repeated vocal riff in Get Off, which is unearthed near the end), but time and again you’ve thrown light on songs that had completely passed me by, on minute sounds in well-known songs (the “fart” noise in Elephants & Flowers!), or songs like this one that I had previously kept in a hater’s memory hole. Your take on “I Rock, Therefore I Am” is right in line with that adage that even the least of a genius’s output is of greater interest than most of the product of lesser mortals. You gotta publish all this in book form, or at least put out a tip jar. This is gold.

    • 500 Prince Songs

      Too kind. Although i fear the super-fan market is too niche to warrant this in book-form. A deep dive on the top 50 tracks may be an idea though.

      And studying these tracks in detail give mixed blessings. For every “wow cool, he mentions 22 in the 22nd second” (Money Don’t Matter 2 Night) there’s things like the aforementioned fart noises which you can never again unhear 🙁

  • Scott Thompsett

    Agree with Marc’s comments – these writeups are refreshing…though, i thoroughly disagree with the assessment on this track. All the discordant elements in this song “the rapping, the chant, the holier than thou preachiness.” – make his a steaming pile of turdiness. One of the few tracks i wish he had never created. Descartes is rolling over in his grave……

    • 500 Prince Songs

      Heheh. You’re gonna hate my write-up on The Sun, The Moon and the Stars too I wager.

      • Scott Thompsett

        I love that song! I’ve noticed you have a much greater degree of fondness for chaos and disorder, and the NPG albums than I do.

        I am still rattled by the low grade for Girl. Does this mean it does not bode well for she’s always in my hair?

        • 500 Prince Songs

          What can I say? I was at a very impressionable age in the 90s.

          ‘She’s Always In My Hair’ is currently in the top 30 though.

          • ben zappa

            Where’s the writeup on ‘She’s always in my hair’ though. I love that song.

          • 500 Prince Songs

            Check back in about 18 months. We should be in the top 30 by then.