408: New Power Generation

Graffiti Bridge (1990)
This two-parter was one of only three newly-written songs on the Graffiti Bridge album and became its third single after the equally fresh Thieves in the Temple and Tevin Campbell’s Round and Round. It comes in two parts with the second half featuring a curtain call of the album’s guests to deliver what would later become a supernova of various spin-off songs, including My Tree, Oobey Doop, True Confessions and the fantastic Loveleft, Loveright. It also generated a Maxi CD’s worth of remixes and the title (taken from Prince’s first words on the Lovesexy album) spawned, amongst other things, several bands, a record label, website, members club and a shop franchise. Despite all this progeny New Power Generation is a song Prince quickly abandoned after Graffiti Bridge, never performing it live. I think he outgrew the tone of voice as “NPG in the motherfuckin’ house” was much more in keeping with his next few albums’ image than the prissy “pardon us for caring, I didn’t know it was against the rules”. He was in his thirties when he wrote it but the lyrics are full of this teen excuse-me-for-existing petulance. A Times They Are A-Changin’ rallying call against the older generation with their “old fashioned music” and “old ideas”. Like his earlier Revolution this is Prince wanting to spearhead a movement, raging against the status quo and fighting for “making love and music” (fifty percent of the holy DMSR). Speaking of music, this self-described “big noise in the 90s” is not as timeless as his big noise in the 80s and includes what sounds very much like the “whoa whoa whoa” refrain from U Can’t Touch This, released earlier that year. Retribution I reckon for MC Hammer’s (admittedly sanctioned) sampling of When Doves Cry for Pray. Or maybe for his spelling of ‘you’? Regardless though of New Power Generation‘s crows feet, it still stands up well today as an energised hadouken of righteous anger aimed at a backward-looking music industry. It ends with an angelic chord and the gentle sound of baptising waters. The NPG has been christened and The Kid is now Daddy Pop.