I’m trying to keep today’s post brief. I’m going to have a socially responsible drink with some friends at a little backyard gathering tonight. Today’s song “My Name Is Prince” was recorded in 1991 and released as the second single from 1992’s Love Symbol album by Prince and the New Power Generation.
I’m going to start with this: I loved this track in high school. I can’t say I listened to a lot of Prince in the early-90’s, but I had this track on a bunch of mixtapes. Literally old school cassette mixtapes. I had the “My Name Is Prince” cassette single. I played in an intramural basketball league in our high school (shout out to BAA) and we’d make mixtapes for warmups. I was more serious about making a great pre-game mixtape than I was about being good at basketball. “My Name is Prince” was heard often at 6:00 AM on Wednesday mornings in the Pulaski High School gym during the 1992-1993 school year.
I’ve criticized this era of Prince music frequently over the past few months. I’ve mentioned Prince’s struggle incorporating hip hop in to his repertoire ad nauseam. “My Name Is Prince” sounds dated now, but the vocals and intensity still come through. This song gets me fired up. The beat is boilerplate early-90’s hip hop. I don’t believe Tony M. was a particularly good rapper, especially when compared to the other options available in 1992. Old school rappers like Rakim and Public Enemy were still in their primes. East coast crews like Native Tongues (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Jungle Brothers) were pushing creative boundaries. Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Ice Cube had taken over the airwaves from the west coast. New Power Generation’s rappers were basic by comparison. However, Prince’s vocals and electric guitar set this song apart.
The real beauty of “My Name Is Prince” is the lyrics. Prince doesn’t really sing this song, but I wouldn’t call it rapping either. It sounds something like screaming, but it’s not. It’s a sound I would argue only Prince could pull off. For a song that’s clearly a banger, there’s a surprising amount of biblical references. The beauty comes in the final verse of the song. It happens to be one of my favorite verses in Prince lore. Here are the lyrics:
My name is Prince I don’t want to be king
Cause I’ve seen the top and it’s just a dream
Big cars and women and fancy clothes
Will save your face but it won’t save your soul
I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way
Would our Lord be happy if He came today?
I ain’t sayin’ I’m better, no better than you
But if you want to play with me, you better learn the rules
My name is Prince
Dope. I don’t have the same belief in The Dawn that Prince did, but I still dig the message. Prince could combine funk, hip hop, and God, and still make a banger. This song still fires me up as much as it did before my crappy intramural basketball games in 1993.