“We Can Funk” is the seventh track on 1990’s Graffiti Bridge soundtrack and it features funk luminaries Prince (obviously) and George Clinton. However, to get to the origin of this song you have to go all the way back to New Year’s Eve, 1983.
Prince was busy writing and recording music for Purple Rain. During a jam session he came up with a groove he liked and it became “We Can Fuck.” The title was considered too risque so they used alternate titles for it on the studio tapes like “The Dawn” and “Moral Majority.” Regardless of the title, the song did not make the Purple Rain album and like so much of his work it ended up in the vault. In 1986 Prince dusted the track off again, cleaned up some of the lyrics, and offered it to a band called Three O’Clock along with a few other songs. Three O’Clock took a different song and “We Can Fuck” remained in the vault. Not long after that Micki Free recorded vocals for the track, but that version was also never released.
Finally in 1989 Prince added some vocals by George Clinton, re-recorded the track and “We Can Fuck” became “We Can Funk.” You would think a song called “We Can Funk” by Prince and George Clinton would be the funkiest song you’ve ever heard in your life. There’s no doubt it’s funky, but for Prince and George Clinton I’d give it about a 6 out of 10 on the funk scale. The lyrics are absurd. For instance:
I’m testing positive for the funk
I’ll gladly pee in anybody’s cup
And when your cup overflow
I’m testing positive and I’ll pee some more
Fantastic. Nothing says funk like overflowing cups of urine?
I know the movie Graffiti Bridge is ridiculously bad and the soundtrack is a bit uneven, but there’s some great music. “We Can Funk” is included in that. Like I said earlier, it’s not as funky as you might expect, but it’s still a cool track. So cool Prince not only re-tooled it multiple times throughout the 1980’s to get it right, but it was brought back again in 2011 by Prince protegee Andy Allo, this time under the title “Oui Can Luv.” This version features an acoustic guitar and Allo’s raspy voice turning it in to a love song. Quite a transformation in 28 years going from the nasty “We Can Fuck” to Andy Allo’s acoustic “Oui Can Luv.”
“We Can Funk” is definitely a cool, slept on song in Prince’s catalog no matter which version you prefer.