What an incredible transformation Prince went through over the course of 20 years. In the early-1980’s he had “Head,” a song about him getting head from a virgin in her wedding dress on her way to be wed. There was “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” when Prince needed a “mouth like yours” to forget the girl that just walked out of his door. There was “Darling Nikki” when Prince signed his name on the dotted line, the lights went out, and Nikki started to grind. The list is long. Every one of them funky, nasty, and brilliant.
Who would’ve guessed that 2004 would see a 46-year-old Prince singing “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?” a super chill song about avoiding the advances of a groupie and wanting to avoid her advances? “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?” is the seventh track from Prince’s underrated 2004 album Musicology. After a few years out of the spotlight – much of which was spent touring the world with an amazing band and focusing on instrumental music – Prince returned in a big way. He had a #3 album in Musicology, won two Grammy awards, and had the top grossing tour of the year taking in more than $87 million. He did it all his way, focusing on the things he did during his time out of the spotlight: funky music played by a live band.
“What Do U Want Me 2 Do” features Prince on all instruments and vocals except for the brief Italian spoken word part at the end of the track. It’s a beautiful, mellow track that features a favorite Prince aspect that I bring to light at every opportunity: Prince bass skills. The track might be chill, but Prince somehow manages to work in a funky ass bass line like only he can. It takes this song from a potential snoozer to a standout on Musicology. I dig the drum programming, mixing in some of the old school 80’s sound to contrast with the jazzy vibe throughout the rest of the song.
Then there are the lyrics I referenced above. “I see you picked me out like you want something, but shame on you, baby, can’t you see this ring?” Wait, what? Is this Prince? “I got a woman, you got a man, so we got to do what’s right.” Damn. Grown up, religious Prince ain’t having any of this groupie/adultery nonsense. To be honest, I’m all for it. I’m more of a music man than a lyrics man anyway, so if the song is cool, I’m in. Yeah, I find the old shit entertaining, but I dig a song like “What Do U Want Me 2 Do” as well. It’s not as funny, but really, wouldn’t be kind of disgusting if 46-year-old Prince was making a Dirty Mind sequel? He was married at the time to Manuela Testolini. His music grew up with him here, and while it’s not nearly as shocking, it’s still dope.
Musicology was the era that brought me all the way back in on Prince. I got to see him on tour that summer, the only time I got to see the man live. It was fun to have Prince back and relevant instead of releasing mysterious internet-only music. I dig that stuff, too, but seeing Prince back on the charts and touring in giant outdoor venues felt right. I have a special spot for Musicology in my heart so I might overrate everything on it. Whatever. I dig this album and this track. I don’t care if he wasn’t nasty anymore. Good work, Prince.