By the time Prince released “Ol’ Skool Company” I had been a legit Prince fanatic for a few years, but was still a bit confused by his means of releasing music. It was now 2009 and he had gone through several different websites for downloading his music. He unveiled his new website, lotusflow3r.com on March 24, 2009, and at the time I thought it was the only way to get his new albums. He launched the website on that date to coincide with the THREE albums he was releasing that day: The Prince albums Lotusflow3r and MPLSound and another album called Elixir by protegee Bria Valente. I went to the site to purchase the new albums and the option that I remember finding was a 1-year membership to the site, a t-shirt, and the three albums for $77.00. That seemed steep for three downloads, but I really wanted to hear the music. Plus, the shirt was cool and the website was the only place online that you could see his old music videos and any other content that he’d put out. I paid it.
Then I went to Target the following Tuesday and found out that I could’ve gotten his two CD’s for $20, avoided the forgettable third non-Prince album, and saved $57. I missed the fact that the CDs were going to be available exclusively at Target starting a week after the lotusflow3r.com site dropped. Oops. At least I still have the shirt. For those of you scratching your head at the Target exclusive, Target is based in the Twin Cities. He was keeping it local.
I’d like to pause for a second and give a shout out to the Twin Cities. I have a lot of family in that area and have been lucky enough to visit many times in my life. I’ve always loved it there. Great people. Beautiful city. Home to one of the greatest record stores on the planet: Electric Fetus. I adore Prince from a distance. I can’t imagine the amount of pride people in the area must take knowing that Prince – one of the greatest popular musicians of all-time and the epitome of cool – chose to stay there and remain a part of their community rather than leave for one of the coasts and/or warmer weather. Prince’s quote, “I will always live in Minneapolis. It’s so cold it keeps the bad people out,” is beautiful. As someone who’s spent my entire life in Wisconsin, I’ve borrowed that line of thinking more than once. There’s a part of me that longs to live in Minneapolis, but it’s probably insane that one of the driving forces behind it would be my desire to be closer to the epicenter of Prince culture.
Like most of his late-career work, Prince’s pair of 2009 albums didn’t reach his peak form, but still had some enjoyable highs. MPLSound was a return to the keyboard and Linn drum funk of his early career. A consistently enjoyable 48 minutes of mostly mid-tempo funk. “Ol’ Skool Company” has a theme that Prince revisited a few times later in his career. I think of him as “get off my lawn” Prince. There’s a lot of bitterness that things aren’t like they used to be on that track. At one point late in the track he reminisces about the days of real drumming and starts listing his old drummers…yet somehow leaves Bobby Z out!?! He also does some ranting about Wall Street bailouts and babies being born out of wedlock. The entire song is done with a Camille-esque effect on his vocals making his voice a higher pitch, which was also a curious move considering the lyrical content. When I think of Camille I think of fun shit like “Housequake.” This song is a real mixed bag.
Musically it’s also a lot of good with a little bit of bad. The Linn drum sound is back in full force and I am always in favor of that. The keyboard melody is what throws me off on this track. It sounds like it’s trying to parody an 80’s rap song. The guitar is funky as hell and more than makes up for it, though. The song has a nice slow groove if you can get past the melody.
I’ll use this term again: mixed bag. That’s what “Ol’ Skool Company” is. I don’t seek it out, but I don’t skip it either. A perfect candidate for an average 2.5 out of 5 rating.