418: Daddy Pop

Diamonds and Pearls (1991)
The era of this album introduced to us a new macho-acting prince, armed with gun microphone, hip-hop and an attitude that would cause Rosie Gaines to later describe him as “kind of a male chauvinist at that point”. She was the only female musician in his new backing band, the NPG, and decided to leave his employ after the Diamonds and Pearls tour, feeling alienated by the gender imbalance and bullied by his trio of male dancers The Game Boyz. You can hear this testosterone shift throughout Daddy Pop with silverback lyrics and groans of “oh daddy, you’re the best” but old habits die hard and his homo-erotic choreography during live shows, and in particular this song’s performance on Arsenio Hall, showed he still knew how to mess with gender expectations. Underneath the Daddy machismo lies the Pop. A vivacious, keyboard-driven appeal to the mainstream, built upon a sped-up loop of Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady (a song he later covered with Beverley Knight on his Indigo Nights release) and featuring Prince throwing his voice around the octaves like he was possessed by the lost souls of the entire Family Stone. My favourite fact about this recording is that a section from a live performance of Partyman is edited in at the end. A similar throne-polishing song, albeit under the guise of the Joker, reminding us that although the male entourage is new, the self-aggrandising lyrics aren’t. Baby, he’s a star and you sure might know it now.