Prince | Welcome 2 America, the Nostalgic Experience
Cheryl ‘Suitelady’ Dunlap
Be prepared for a flashback and flash forward experience, when you listen to the new album by Prince, titled “Welcome 2 America.” Prince was always ahead of his time, and this album sounds eerily like his legacy echoing backward. Almost to say “I told you so!”
I’ve often wondered if Prince was alive, what would his pandemic album would sound like. The title track Welcome 2 America is the song that musically created what I’m calling my Flashback/Flashforward Prince Place! Stay with me! The flashback is a reference to Prince’s Sign O’ The Times album (or 1999 album). The flashforward is my presumptive assumptions about the Welcome 2 America Album. Die-hard Prince fans always read beyond the surface of his song’s lyrics, and album covers.
From the very first note of Tal Wilkenfeld’s opening bass line, it was evident that this album was going to be a different experience. The title track, “Welcome 2 America” is a jazz track with lush background vocals, gently placed in a music bed for Prince’s flash forward poetic narrative commentary. The Flashback is the 1987 opening song and title track “Sign O’ The Times”, (my favorite Prince album). On this song Prince delivers similar opening commentary. “Welcome 2 America” (title track) is absolutely befitting as a Flash forward Prince Place, because he is no longer with us. In this song he questions if today’s music will stand the test of time, speaks to the harmful impact of mass media, cell phones/social media, and a myriad of 2021 social ills. Could it be that Prince, before his untimely passing, completed the follow up to Sign O The Times? Be still my heart! An album that many fans consider an unsung and timeless masterpiece.
I find it very strategic and timely that the Sign O’ Times reissued remastered album dropped in September of 2020. I’m just saying!
By the second song, “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master): I was sure that this album was a direct extension of the 1987 release, Sign O’ Times, an album that served as Prince’s musical commentary on the country’s state affairs and the deeper intricacies of romantic relationships. Welcome 2 America is the ultimate grown man’s music, that reflects an evolved Prince, who’s grown in his relationships, socially, politically and spiritually. “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master” highlights his struggle with the music industry and obtaining ownership of his masters. One of my favorites! “Born 2 Die” puts me in the mindset of the Curtis Mayfield era of music. Definitely another stand-out track. “1000 Light Years from Here (revamped version from HitNRun album)” is one of those songs with a hook that stays with you; it has a very strong gospel feel, yet is blended with the soulful pop that is Prince’s signature. It is the inspirational song on the album. Here are some an examples of additional song comparisons that exist in the Flashback/ Flashforward Prince Place I have created between Welcome 2 America and Sign O’ The Times:
“Hot Summer” (Welcome 2 America) and “Play in the Sunshine” (Sign O’ The Times);” Same Page, Different Book” (Welcome 2 America and ThirdEyeGirl ) and “The Cross” (Sign O’ The Times). Ultimately, Sign O’ The Times had fewer socially-themed songs and was heavy on the love songs. Welcome 2 America is heavy on social commentary and themes of unity and spirituality.
I know you are wondering, a Prince album without a love song? No, there is ONE love song. It totally surprised me, I did not hear or anticipate a love song. However, it would not be Prince if there was not a love song! “When She Comes”, is a tasteful double entendre for Prince. After Prince found God, he stopped performing the racy risqué’ songs. However, “When She Comes”, (revamped version from the HitNRun Album) is reminiscent of a few Princes classic slow jams.
Imagine the bluesy “Slow Love”, and the romantic” Adore” (Sign O’ The Times Album ) sprinkled with some “International Lover” (1999 Album ). A love song about monogamous intimacy. He found her, the one and she knows who she is. I also hear messages about the timing of love, the surrender of love and the freedom within love. The kind of song that opens the pathway of the intimacy within Slow Dance, aka a Slow Drag. I distinctly hear the mic drop on this one?
Overall, each song on this album is wrapped in tracks and lyrics that stand alone and as well as collectively. The album is nostalgic yet uncannily foreseeing. Also, this album reflects the musical styles popular in the 1970’s. Welcome 2 America has already found a place as one of my all-time favorite Prince albums. I would love your feedback on my Flashback/Flash forward Prince Place.
Bravo to all of the contributors! Well, Done!
By the way, Prince discovered Liv Warfield on YouTube, performing at the first Soul Suite Live show:
Cheryl ‘Suitelady’ Dunlap