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 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!