461: Mr Happy

Emancipation (1996)
Trampling all over Roger Hargreaves’ copyright with a lascivious smile, Mr Happy is Prince’s playboy pseudonym long before he wanted you to call him Mr Goodnight. Funk synths bump chests behind a falsetto Prince going alpha male and Scrap D (the rapper who appears on Da, Da, Da and Chaos and Disorder’I Rock, Therefore I am) delivers an on brand but dated rap about VCRs and pagers. The rapping is probably the reason why Mr Happy is a regular high-ranker on lists of tracks fans would remove from the overblown Emancipation album. Editing down the mid-90s’ opus is a popular and divisive pastime amongst those who feel the 3CD set would benefit from being shorn of a disc or two but consensus is rarely reached on what the slimmer tracklist would be. Despite the hate (even the track’s engineer called it a waste of time) Mr Happy has plenty of character to survive my personal double-disc reworking and is a song that could only have been made by Prince, unlike for example the same CD’s cosmetically pleasing but ultimately sapless Get Yo Groove On. I think it falls between two stools – too hip-hop for the rockers and too inauthentic for the hip-hop crowd. The solipsistic samples don’t help it appeal to the latter who are used to deeper crate digging – the rote “microphone check” sample is from a remix of his own NPG’s The Good Life and buried deep in the mix there’s an Ice Cube sample, included solely because it name-checks Prince. But as a pop song it’s a fun chest puff that doesn’t take itself too seriously. After the fade out there’s a short soundscape where Prince’s sound library gets consumed by guitar feedback and although this was probably added to ensure the CD was an exact 60 minutes rather than having anything to do with this particular track, it’s the closest Prince gets to emulating A Day in the Life and is an interesting interlude.