186: U Know

Art Official Age (2014)
U Know kicks off a run of superb but similar-sounding, futuristic RnB on Art Official Age that’s easy to overlook following the oxygen-hogging opening quartet. It brings your blood pressure down after the eurodance, sci-fi plot twists, emotional breakdowns and whatever The Gold Standard is. A chance to reboot after your mental bandwidth gets choked. On its day U Know can be my favourite song from this seductive middle-section but loses points by lifting the beat and moans from Mila J’s Blinded – a sample so unusually large for Prince that it almost tips the song into being a cover. In the dancehall world, it would be labelled a version. Ignoring the ethical questions this raises (the first Mila heard of U Know was when she discovered it on Soundcloud) Prince adds enough top-spin to send it into the heavens. The verses hammer out a staccato flow of robotic legalese, which could be the iTunes terms and conditions for all I can make out, but explode into a chromatic firework display of light and neo-soul adoration in the chorus. I have detailed thoughts on how this song fits into the album narrative, which I won’t bore you with here, but I do believe all this relationship legal-wrangling and hitting on attached women is part of Mr Nelson’s old life before being woken in the future. Before he stopped believing in possessions. Before he learnt there are no such words as me or mine. Although Mila J may tell you he always believed that.