Daily Prince 7/30/20: Ain’t Gonna Miss U When U’re Gone

Before I get started please allow me a moment for a personal milestone.  I started collecting vinyl about ten years ago.  I didn’t document it, so I don’t know exactly how long, but it has to be about ten years.  I saw something online about a very early Record Store Day at one of our local independent record shops here in Green Bay.  Being the tech person that I am, by 2010 I had long since migrated my entire music collection to iTunes and physical media had become a thing of the past for me.  My initial reaction to the post was, “Oh my God, The Exclusive Company is still open?  How is that possible?”  I hadn’t been there in years and just assumed the entire world was buying music online now.  The more I thought about it the idea of getting my hands on some records seemed appealing.  Plus, supporting a local record store that had been there since I was a kid was something I could get behind so I checked it out.  Man, times have changed.  I walked in without a line.  I got a stack of cool records without having to fight a crowd.  They gave away a ton of swag.  There was a laid back, celebratory vibe and they just seemed happy to have someone there.  The last few years I had to arrive for RSD at 4:00 AM to make sure I got the records I wanted.  If it had been that way the first time I went to RSD it probably would’ve turned me off of the entire idea of record collecting.  Instead I enjoyed myself so much that my morning at The Exclusive Company launched an obsession.

By 2015 I had collected a few Prince records but nothing to brag about.  It was the exact records you’d expect: Purple Rain, 1999, and a few of his newer records like Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum.  One day I went in to the other local record store in town, Rock N’ Roll Land, for a routine crate digging stop.  Rock N’ Roll Land is easily the best place in the area for used records, so as usual, I made a beeline for the P section.  I remember that it was about a year before Prince’s death, so finding his vinyl was a completely different game.  You could walk in to a record store and actually find some Prince records, and usually for a very reasonable price.  They had For You, Controversy, Lovesexy, and a pristine copy of Sign ‘O’ the Times someone had just sold them.  I snatched up all four of them for under $40.  I decided then and there that my mission was to get my hands on every Prince record (within reason).  Can I find The Black Album?  Hell no.  Did I find a bootleg?  Hell yes.

For that first year his records were relatively easy to find.  Then April 2016 happened.

Suddenly every Prince section of every record store was empty.  On the flipside of that, the Prince Estate started reissuing a lot of music that had been near impossible to find until then.  I would’ve never been able to afford a record like The Rainbow Children until it was reissued a few months ago.  I know vinyl purists cringe at the thought of a reissue.  Not me.  My record collection is for use, not show.  I spin them regularly.  I own them because I want to listen to them, not leave them in shrink wrap to gain value.  So, turn your nose up if you want, I still believe I’ve accomplished something here.  After a recent Discogs selling spree I was able to purchase some difficult-to-find Prince vinyl.  My final two purchases arrived yesterday from Greece.  Diamonds and Pearls and The Love Symbol.  With those purchases the only two Prince albums that have been pressed on vinyl that I don’t own are The Gold Experience and Come.  Those two records are so expensive I’m going to either have to wait for reissues or somehow stumble across them at a record store or sale and sucker someone who has no idea what they’re worth.  I doubt I’ll ever get them, so I’m considering yesterday a milestone.  The day I completed my Prince LP collection (within reason).  That’s not to say I won’t still be snatching up everything the Prince Estate puts out in the future.  I’m just saying I felt a sense of achievement when I slid those two records in to my Prince shelf for the first time.  If the Prince Estate is reading this (they’re likely not, but who knows, right?) I’d love to see those two records reissued as well as some of the NPG Music Club stuff that was never pressed so I can spin those as well.

Between LPs, 12″ singles, and 7″ singles I’m nearing 90.  Add records by The Time, Vanity 6, The Family, Sheila E. Madhouse, etc. I’m over 100.  If my brother would ever get me that fucking Apollonia 6 record I’d have one more.  For reasons I can’t explain I’ve also grabbed eight Prince cassettes when I’ve seen them at various record stores.  I’m trying to think of a cool way to set them up for photos so I can show off the collection on this site and IG, but I’m terrified the dog will run in to the room and step on them or something.  Maybe they should just stay on the shelf…

OK, sorry for spending 700+ words bragging about my Prince vinyl.  It felt relevant for some reason.  Back to the purpose of this post.  The further we get in to July the deeper we get in to Prince’s catalog.  It’s a good thing there’s only one day left because today is about as deep as deep cuts get.  Don’t try looking this one up on Spotify, Apple Music, or even Tidal.  “Ain’t Gonna Miss U When U’re Gone” was available exclusively as a download on 3rdeyegirl.com in June of 2013.  I’m not gonna lie, this was a rare Prince song that I’d never heard before until it came up on my Prince Song Randomizer today.  Luckily YouTube came through as it typically does.  So, today I’m in the unique position of analyzing a song I’m hearing for the first time right now.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve had the track on repeat in my headphones the entire time I’ve been typing this, so I’ve heard it about ten times now.  Here’s my take:

It’s cool.

OK, that’s it.  Thanks for stopping by.

Seriously, my immediate impression is that I expected a song from 3rdeyegirl.com to feature 3rdEyeGirl.  It does not.  Prince is credited with all instruments (except horns).  I was kind of disappointed, but I dig the track, so I guess I don’t care.  This song is funky as hell and it’s a shame that more people haven’t heard it.  The drum programming is tight.  Reminiscent of something like “Automatic” from 1999.  The production is sparse, but there are still a lot of sounds if that makes any sense.  Everything has a tight staccato feel so you hear some slap bass, quick synth hits, and steel drums that add to the melody.  I’m going to assume it’s a “steel drum” sound, but regardless, it adds a cool vibe and elevates the song.  Reminds me of early Neptunes/Pharrell Williams production.  There’s some fantastic bass work by Prince hidden on this track, and if you’ve learned anything about me reading these posts it’s that I don’t particularly like it when Prince raps but I love it when he plays bass.

If I’m being critical here I do have two minor issues with this song.  First, back to the rapping for a second.  There’s someone rapping on this track with a voice effect on to make it sound deep.  Since Prince is credited with vocals on the track I can only assume it’s him.  In my opinion this track relies too heavily on the deep voice effect.  Prince’s singing is cool as it is.  No need to insert the deep voice effect.  My other nit pick is that Prince has a vocal phenom in Ledisi on this track and she’s mostly relegated to background duty.  That’s like having a Ferrari and only using it to run to the post office.  Less deep voice guy.  More Ledisi.  She has a fantastic and unique voice.  Take advantage.

It’s been a pleasure checking out a Prince track I haven’t heard before.  I need to find a way to add this to my Prince playlist on Apple Music so I hear it more often.

On a sad note, I just learned of the passing of rapper Malik Abdul Baset, better known as Malik B. from The Roots.  The Roots have been one of my favorite bands for 25 years and Malik B. was a key member of the group in the early years.  While the cause of death is not known, I know that Malik battled with addiction.  I don’t want to speculate that it had anything to do with his death, but I bring it up because I always wonder “what if” whenever I hear him.  In my opinion Black Thought is the greatest MC who ever lived and Malik B. not only rapped alongside him for years, but clearly belonged there and shone equally bright.  Drugs have derailed yet another promising career and possibly life.  Today Black Thought posted, “I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential.”  That’s high praise coming from the GOAT.  Sadly, Malik B. may be remembered for what could’ve been.  Wherever he is now, I hope his demons are behind him and he’s found peace.  Please enjoy some of Malik B’s early work on the track that made me fall in love with The Roots – “Proceed” – as well as an amazing Roots song called “Water” that they wrote as an open letter to him in 2002.  Black Thought’s lyrics are especially poignant today.  Rest in peace, Malik B.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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