Prince – The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse: ‘File under P’?

NPG Music Club - Musicology Store - The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse (2004) (calhounsquare.fandom.com/apoplife.nl)

NPG Music Club – Musicology Store – The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse (2004)

Introduction

NPGMC Logo (princevault.com)

On this day in 2004 Prince offered downloads to his new album Musicology. The very same day he also released two compilation albums, The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse, both of them subtitled Trax from the NPG Music Club, available for download in the MP3 format exclusively to members of the NPG Music Club, an on-line Prince community, active from 2001 to 2006, through which Prince communicated directly with his fans and released his music. At a yearly fee of $100.- (lowered to $25.- starting with the 4th year of its existence) members received monthly (new) music, physical cd’s and access to exclusive concert ticket pre-sales, guaranteeing seats in front of the stage.

In order to keep the story on the released albums on this day somewhat compact, this article focuses on The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse. Musicology will be featured in a separate article planned for April 20th, coinciding with the date that album was released physically.

Reading guideline

This article is divided into 4 parts:

  1. Way of releasing
  2. The Chocolate Invasion
  3. The Slaughterhouse
  4. Conclusie
Prince - The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse - Original album covers (apoplife.nl)

Prince – The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse – Original album covers

Way of releasing

When R.E.M. was still active I once read a Peter Buck interview in Dutch music magazine Muziekkrant Oor. When the subject Prince came up, Buck replied that he still wanted to have everything, but added that it had become a ‘File under P’ action. Meaning: he owned it, but rarely listened. A funny story, but it did describe the situation I found myself in, especially when it came down to the 2004 and onward Prince music and releases.

Prince - NPG Music Club - What Is Musicology (apoplife.nl)

What Is Musicology?

After Prince’s passing I re-listened his entire body of work again and again (and again). Including those albums I had more or less taken for granted at the time of their release. Among them The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse, both offered on-line on March 29th, 2004 in the NPG Music Club.

Both albums were originally part of the planned 7 cd set The Chocolate Invasion (planned for a 2003 release), also containing C-Note, Xpectation, One Nite Alone… and two other discs. The set was never released, officially due to manufacturing problems. Nonetheless, much of the set’s music found its way to listeners on other releases. As reimbursement to the fans (and making good on the NPG Music Club promise of a minimum of 3 to 4 releases annually) both albums were made available in the new Musicology store. Both albums cost $ 9.99 a piece. The albums were offered in the wma (Windows Media Audio) format making use of DRM (Digital Rights Management). An advanced technique, yet today I am unable to play my original (bought and paid for) files.

Most likely, Prince was the producer, arranger and engineer for both albums. Sam Jennings is cited as being the ‘executive producer’ (he made a lot of the artwork for the NPG Music Club).

In 2015 both albums were re-released on Tidal, initially just on the streaming service, later followed by physical downloads in mp3 en flac format. The Tidal releases marked the first time official covers to the albums were available. At the time of the 2004 release booklets and cd inlays were made available to everyone who wanted to burn the songs onto cd, but these were semi-official. They deviate from the Tidal covers.

Prince - The Chocolate Invasion (tidal.com)

Prince – The Chocolate Invasion

The Chocolate Invasion

The Chocolate Invasion is subtitled Trax from the NPG Music Club Volume One. It is Prince’s 29th studio album, and, just like The Slaughterhouse, it is a compilation of NPG Music Club downloads dating back to 2000/2001, some of them in a slightly different or shorter form. The title comes from the song Judas Smile, which features the phrase “The chocolate invasion starts here”.

The songs were recorded between 1999 and 2001 in Prince’s own Paisley Park Studios. Many of the songs were originally planned for the High album, which was announced to be ready on August 8th, 2000 on NPGOnlineLtd.com, only to be put on hold later. The reasoning behind it remains unclear, but maybe Prince becoming a Jehovah’s Witness around that time, had something to do with it. A lot of the High songs are sexually explicit and contain profanity, which Prince was unwilling to use again.

Prince - The Chocolate Invasion - CD (samjennings.com)

Prince – The Chocolate Invasion – CD

Songs

All songs written by Prince.

When Lay My Hands On U

First release date: 18-02-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Initially known as When Eye Lay My Hands On U. Offered for free as a download in promoting the release of the NPG Music Club Edition # 1.

Judas Smile

First release date: 28-08-2001.

Part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 7, erroneously titled as Judas Kiss. This was rectified within a couple of days. Most likely recorded during the The Rainbow Children sessions in 2001.

Supercute

First release date: 14-04-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

The first song of a single, which was sold on April 14th, 2001, for the first time during the Hit N Run Tour. On June 11th, 2001, the songs was part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 5.

Underneath The Cream

First release date: 14-04-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

B-side to the Supercute single released in 2001. Seven months later the song was part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 10, which was available on November 15th, 2001.

Sex Me Sex Me Not

First release date: 11-06-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Also known as Sexmesexmenot. Released for the first time on June 11th, 2001, as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 5.

Vavoom

First release date: 15-11-2001.

Part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 10.

High

First release date: 15-12-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 11 as an audio file. The video to the song was part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 1.

The Dance

First release date: 29-03-2004.

This song was released on the day the The Chocolate Invasion album was released for the first time. Two years later, Prince would re-record and release it on the 3121 album. The Dance was part of the first incarnation of the The Chocolate Invasion release. When the album was released through Tidal, The Dance was replaced by My Medallion.

Gamillah

First release date: 14-04-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

B-side to the The Daisy Chain single (The Daisy Chain, the song, is part of The Slaughterhouse, see below), which was released for the first time on April 14th, 2001, during the Hit N Run Tour. The New Power Generation were listed as the performing artist. When the song was part of the December 15th, 2001, NPG Music Club Edition # 11 the song was accredited to Prince.

U Make My Sun Shine

First release date: 21-12-2000 (was part of the High album configuration).

Was offered on-line on December 21st, 2001, as a single download on NPGOnlineLtd.com, containing When Will We B Paid? (a Staple Singers cover) as its B-side. The song was a cooperation between Prince and (neo-soul singer) Angie Stone. The single was released on cd on April 10th, 2001.

Change upon Tidal release

When Prince had signed a deal with Jay-Z’s music platform Tidal the songs on the album were reshuffled. The track sequence for the Tidal release (as it had been previously assembled as early as 2003) was:

  • When Lay My Hands On U
  • Judas Smile
  • Supercute
  • Underneath The Cream
  • My Medallion
  • Vavoom
  • High
  • Sexmesexmenot
  • Gamillah
  • U Make My Sun Shine

Apart from the alternative song order, The Dance was replaced by My Medallion.

My Medallion

First release date: 18-02-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Available on February 18th, 2001, as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 1. The song strongly resembles the Eric Burdon And War song Spill The Wine. It was officially released in 2015 as part of the 2015 The Chocolate Invasion release on Tidal, replacing The Dance on the original release. 

Prince - The Chocolate Invasion - Back cover (samjennings.com)

Prince – The Chocolate Invasion – Back cover

Review

Despite the subtitle Trax from the NPG Music Club Volume One, the album is rather consistent. Probably due to the fact that the majority of the songs were planned to be released on the High album, that at one time was slated for release.

Contrary to my initial reaction in 2004, I must admit the album contains a couple of truly magnificent songs. It immediately starts off with the superb When Lay My Hands On U. An absolute gem, and a highlight within his body of work. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed it in concert a couple of times. It contains a nice phrase that mentions Carlos Santana, of which Prince has always claimed he was a far bigger influence on his guitar playing than Jimi Hendrix:

I will touch thee in the softest manner
Like “Europa” in the hands of Santana

© 2004 Prince

Judas Smile is a very nice funk song, Underneath The Cream is a very nice ballad, which has a kind of The Rainbow Children vibe to me, containing sexually charged lyrics:

Thinkin’ bout your thighs
Wishin’ I was somewhere in between
In one single motion
Deep inside your ocean
I just wanna be

© 2004 Prince

Vavoom is a great rock song, containing (once again) sexually charged lyrics:

Let’s do like we did when I first met you
If it’s cool – this time I’ll come inside (come inside)

© 2004 Prince

The title song to the High project show Prince, talking and singing assuredly on his own status with the music world. The song itself doesn’t quite live up to the bravura, yet I like it a lot:

We got the music get U high again
Got the beat make U act like a hooligan
Got the rhyme make U tell a friend
Prince gon’ get U high

© 2004 Prince

The Dance is a nice song, that was (vastly) improved upon when re-recording it for the 3121 album. Gamillah is a trivial instrumental. The album is closed off by U Make My Sun Shine, a duet with neo-soul singer Angie Stone. Stone is an artist I hold in high esteem. I thought the cooperation with Prince was good, very good to be exact, even though I hear a lot of people that think it’s rather dull. I can’t see that at all. A great send-off to an album I rate far higher nowadays than back in 2004.

My Medallion, the replacement to The Dance on the Tidal release of The Chocolate Invasion, is a dime a dozen funk song, nothing special. Prince can do (much) better.

Want to read the recapitulation? See Conclusion.

Prince - Supercute & U Make My Sun Shine - Singles (genius.com/discogs.com/apoplife.nl)

Prince – Supercute & U Make My Sun Shine – Singles

Musicians

All vocals and instruments by Prince, assisted by:

  • Mr. Hayes – keyboards on Underneath The Cream
  • Najee – flute on Gamillah
  • Angie Stone – vocals on U Make My Sun Shine
  • Milenia – background vocals on U Make My Sun Shine
  • DVS en Kip Blackshire – background vocals on High
Prince - The Slaughterhouse (tidal.com)

Prince – The Slaughterhouse

The Slaughterhouse

The Slaughterhouse is subtitled Trax from the NPG Music Club Volume Two. It is Prince’s 30th studio album, and, just like The Chocolate Invasion, it is a compilation of NPG Music Club downloads dating back to 2000/2001, some of them in a slightly different or shorter form. The title comes from the song Silicon: the first line is “Welcome 2 the slaughterhouse”.

Many of the songs were recorded in Prince’s own Paisley Park Studios between 1997 and 2001. Some of the songs were originally intended for release on the already mentioned High album. Three songs were slated for release on the planned Peace album, which was mentioned in March 2000 when NPGOnlineLtd.com was launched. The album was accredited to The New Power Generation, but was ultimately shelved, just like the High album.

Prince - The Slaughterhouse - CD (samjennings.com)

Prince – The Slaughterhouse – CD

Songs

All songs written by Prince.

Silicon

First release date: 15-12-2001.

Released for the first time as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 11. A video had been released nine months earlier as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 2.

S&M Groove

First release date: 07-07-2001.

A 34 second sample of the song, titled Sado-Masochistic Groove, was streamed in June 1997 on Love4OneAnother.com. On July 7th, 2001, the entire song was released in the NPG Music Club Edition # 6. It was probably recorded during the sessions for the Newpower Soul album, an album accredited to the New Power Generation, but (as Prince was called at the time) was solely responsible for.

Y Should Do That When Can Do This?

First release date: 11-06-2001.

A 1:32 snippet was shared on NPGOnlineLtd.com on June 1st, 2000, after which it was released in its entirety as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 5 in mp3 format. The song probably stems from the recording sessions for the 1999 Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic album.

Golden Parachute

First release date: 28-08-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Originally shared as a bonus to the NPG Music Club Edition # 7. Recordings were done around May 2000.

Hypnoparadise

First release date: 07-07-2001.

Originally released as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 6. Probably recorded around 1998/1999.

Props N’ Pounds

First release date: 15-05-2001.

Initially released as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 4. The same day another version was released in the NPG Ahdio Show # 4. The song contains spoken text samples by MTV vj Kurt Loder lauding Prince.

Northside

First release date: 22-04-2001.

Part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 3. Whether or not this song was part of the Peace album configuration is not 100% certain.

Peace

First release date: 18-02-2001 (was part of the Peace album configuration).

Initially released as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 1. The first snippet of the song was released in March 2000 through NPGOnlineLtd.com. The song was physically available as a single at shows of Prince’s Hit N Run Tour. It was sold on April 14th, 2001 for the first time. The single cover announces the upcoming album Peace, to which this song was supposed to be the title track.

2045: Radical Man

First release date: 26-09-2000 (was part of the Peace album configuration).

Was first released as part of the soundtrack to the Spike Lee movie Bamboozled. A small part of the song was released in March 2000 through NPGOnlineLtd.com. The song was used as the B-side to the Peace single.

The Daisy Chain

First release date: 22-03-2001 (was part of the High album configuration).

Initially released as a video as part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 2. This song was also released as a physical single, first available on April 14th, 2001 and during the Celebration week at Paisley Park Studios in June 2001. The week following its release it was part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 3.

Additional

S&M Groove and Hypnoparadise were initially accredited to . The last 4 songs were initially accredited to The New Power Generation.

Prince - The Slaughterhouse - Back cover (samjennings.com)

Prince – The Slaughterhouse – Back cover

Review

The subtitle Trax from the NPG Music Club Volume Two fits this album better as far as sphere and ‘feel’ than on The Chocolate Invasion. This album is more geared towards funk and religion.

The first song is the embodiment of that. Silicon is great musically, but lyrically less so, as the lyrics are highly religious and dogmatic. The next song, titled S&M Groove, is a great song that harks back at the 1998 Newpower Soul album. Y Should Do That When Can Do This? is a rap song with a great rhythm. Golden Parachute and Hyponoparadsie (which reminds me of Emancipation‘s Sleep Around) both are a bit dull.

Props N’ Pounds (just like High) is a song in which Prince seems to boast about his own skills:

“Here was somebody that’s obviously playing rock and roll who is also a funk artist, who covered a lot of categories into which artists have been separated for so long and brought them 2gether effortlessly.”

” … I mean he’s just one of the greatest live performers there is. But all this other stuff, the attitude, going on around it, I mean U can be a great musician and not have the right kind of approach. And Prince has the right approach 2. …I think the gift of simplicity is like a keynote of art. I mean, he doesn’t, he-he knows when to stop… usually.”

© 2004 Kurt Loder text on ‘Props N’ Pounds’ (Prince)

But the lyrics steer towards religion and/or vanity: Love God and never will your life will be lost.

Northside is a somewhat predictable funk song. I kind of like the beginning of Peace, a kind of segue that were used on a lot of The Time and The New Power Generation albums. Unfortunately the song is marred by a ‘sermon’ by Larry Graham:

The rewards that we share will be based on what’s fair
And not the curliness or the thick of our hair
Real competition, if you dare!
Music is our middle name

© 2004 Prince (& Larry Graham)

Among Prince fans, Larry Graham is rather controversial. Without a doubt a bass genius, but without Graham Prince might never have entered the Jehovah’s Witnesses and, as a result, hadn’t censored his own work or wouldn’t have created intense religious, embarrassing, lyrics and interviews.

2045: Radical Man is a great laidback song, in which Prince asks:

How can a non-musician discuss the future of music from anything other than a consumer point of view?
These few people make decisions for the bulk of us, without consulting any of us
Sales and distributions of our futures, uh!
If this world were fair and right, they’d give up the car keys this very night

© 2004 Prince

The last song The Daisy Chain works great. The beginning of the song alone: “scream one more time”. Glorious funk song.

Want to read the recapitulation? See Conclusion.

Prince - Peace & The Daisy Chain - Singles (princevault.com/medium.com/apoplife.nl)

Prince – Peace & The Daisy Chain – Singles

Musicians

All vocals and instruments by Prince, assisted by:

  • Michael B. – drums on Y Should Do That When Can Do This?
  • Najee – flute on Golden Parachute
  • Larry Graham – bass on Peace and The Daisy Chain, vocals on Peace
  • Mr. Hayes – spoken intro and outro on Peace
  • DVS – rap on The Daisy Chain
NPG Music Club - Musicology Store (apoplife.nl)

NPG Music Club – Musicology Store

Conclusion

As stated before, the albums went by me rather unnoticed. I didn’t think too highly of them and spent most of my attention to the NPG Music Club releases, and in particular the live recordings. I think I dismissed them as being insufficient offerings. But, contrary to Emancipation for instance, which I disliked at the time of its release and still dislike to this day, The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse have grown on me, especially after Prince’s demise.

Given the time frame the albums were released in, it is remarkable that swear words are part of some songs. During his live shows, Prince was already knee deep into censoring his own lyrics. In 2001 he personally committed sacrilege by censoring Parade Tour live recordings, part of the NPG Music Club Edition # 4 published on May 15th, 2001: in the background of New Position the letters P.U.S.S.Y. are sung. That part was removed from the released recordings.

What kind of swear words were part of those 2004 releases?

  • bitch in My medallion
  • fuck in S&M Groove
  • damn and the N-word in 2045: Radical Man

Relatively innocent, compared to what was released at the time and nowadays, but for Prince at the time it was highly unusual. All swear words were replaced by other words at this live shows. He never uttered one inappropriate word ever again. Maybe the relative anonymity of the releases (besides the members of the NPG Music Club no one knew about them) made him agree with publishing them.

Prince also had started to sugarcoat many of the overt sexual references in his lyrics, but a great number of songs, especially on The Chocolate Invasion, are filled with them. Remarkable.

The overall conclusion is that both albums are definitely not part of the greatest of works in his body of work.

A title like The Chocolate Invasion inadvertently brings Parliament’s Chocolate City to mind, an album ranked much higher than these albums. And still, it is most certainly not as bad as I thought at the time. It does contain a number of great songs, and with When Lay My Hands On U it even contains a classic.

On The Slaughterhouse Prince is more funky and relaxed, even though the end result is at times rather generic. This album is also non-essential. But, to be fair, this album is also way better than I initially thought.

Final judgment

Title   Then (2004)   Now (15 years later)
The Chocolate Invasion    
The Slaughterhouse    
Prince - The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse - Spines (apoplife.nl)

Prince – The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse – Spines

In closing

The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse disappeared into the background. Prince clearly directed all attention to Musicology. And yet, the releases are worth the time, if only for When Lay My Hands On U.

What do you think of The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse? Let me know; it’s highly appreciated!

Thank you
My sincere thanks go out to Bram and Edward for proofreading.

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Prince – The Chocolate Invasion & The Slaughterhouse: ‘File under P’?. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.