Emancipation? No, thank u!


Prince - Emancipation (princevault.com)

Emancipation (album), 1996

The following news thread was part of the, then often used, newsgroup alt.music.prince. For me that was a means to communicate with other Prince music enthusiasts about his music, live shows and the, then current, war with record-company Warner Bros. and the name-change. This post was, according to my claims in the post, the second contribution to the newsgroup regarding Emancipation. The first one wasn’t too positive either; a flame was the result. I can’t/couldn’t find the first post, but the second, including (part of) the reactions to it, I came across recently.

So, here, without further ado, I take you back to 1996. I was 30 years old, had no children (yet), was already married to Zühâl and had just started to be a (fulltime) developer. My original post was titled Emancipation? No, thank u!.

E Barendregt, 18-11-96


Let me start by saying that ‘Emancipation’ has disappointed me very very much. When I downloaded the songs last week (yes, the 20-second samples) I got the notion that it was not what it’s supposed to be, according to the hype. That notion was enough for a little flame, so I’m ready for the real one, because the notion has gotten worse. After listening to ‘Emancipation’ for several times I can only conclude that the songs are average, ordinary and definitely NOT worthy of TafkaPrince.

Ever since I heard the intro to ‘When Doves Cry’ in 1984 I’ve loved his music, lyrics, etc. Through ‘Parade’, ‘Sing o the Times’, ‘Lovesexy’ and consequent tours I’ve seen him grow to unbelievable heights. I still think that no other person has ever had the kind of genius that
TafkaPrince had (has ?) in those days.

From 1989 to 1993 things started to get … well, less good. I mean, ‘Batman’ is nice, but definitely not brilliant. ‘Graffiti Bridge’ is at times brilliant, but the songs that were, came from the period 1986-1987 (in less brilliant re-works). ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ was awful, ‘Symbol’ slightly better, ‘Come’ even more better. Luckily, the liveshows during this period were brilliant as usual.

By then news came from Minneapolis about new and refreshing music he was working on. The legendary February 1994 concert previewed great tunes and even brilliant ones! The music was absolutely great and I felt like hearing ‘When Doves Cry’ in 1984, when I heard songs like ‘Interactive’, ‘Now’, ‘Days of Wild’, etc. The reaffirmation of my belief in his genius was strengthened by liveshows that circulated and the Gold-tour (Paradiso aftershow!). When the Gold Experience was released I was very very happy with it. The album stands out as THE TafkaPrince-classic in the 90’s. Chaos and Disorder wasn’t that good, which I blamed on the WarnerBrothers-thing.

Rumours about the new album came bubbling up. This was to be the one, given his statements like ‘The record I was born to make’ and ‘If it’s not on this album, I can’t do it’. The concert of Nov. 12/13 was a little hint, and it was a promising one. The day after samples could be downloaded and … I wish I never did.

So what’s the score? Too many ballads, too little REAL FUNK: 16 below average, 12 (below TafkaPrince) average and 8 great songs (of which he has written 5 himself). One example: ‘The Holy River’ supposedly got EMI-executives out of their chairs with enthusiasm exploding into a standing ovation, because of the ‘Purple Rain’ feel. The booklet with the discs even suggests a sort of ‘Anna Stesia pt. II’. Well, come on! It’s a second rate derivate of ‘Graffiti Bridge’ (the song!). No, Emancipation has greatly disappointed me. Where are songs like ‘Crucial’, ‘Days of Wild’, ‘The Ride’, ‘Funky’ and ‘Funky Design’? These songs are the bomb. Emancipation is like Stevie ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ Wonder ( and believe me, that’s no compliment in my book).

Knowing he can do much better, I look forward to The Crystal Ball discs, but please release the original (!) Old Friends 4 Sale, Crucial, Days of Wild, etc. and not some re-worked, re-recorded version. In this way TafkaPrince can prove his genius as he did not so long ago with ‘The Gold Experience’ and the NPG’s ‘Exodus’.

For all you flamers, I have the right to an OPNINION other than yours, so keep your abusive language to yourself!


Some were nice, some angry and some… Well, let’s just say, not every person has found the way to use their brain capacity to the fullest.

oneo…@aol.com, 18-11-96

Personally, I think you’re absolutely nuts if you think the album has 28 average to below average songs…

wiseman, 19-11-96

Let me start by saying your an idiot still living in the eighties…are you waiting for Madonna to follow up on Material Girl??? Billy Jean???Artists grow…if they don’t they’re not artists. Their static automatons doing what their fans expect of them (read Pearl Jam…U2….) Who needs to flame an asshole? Your only making a fool of yourself dumbass!!!!

jennifer fontenot 19-11-96

Oh, did you say something? Sorry, I was too busy jammin’.

The Emancipation has come!!!

j.c. midknight

Blues In C, 19-11-96

You don’t make it clear in your post if you’ve actually heard all of Emancipation or just the samples. If you haven’t bought it yet, I suggest you do. Your opinion may change. For example, a 20-second sample of Joint2Joint doesn’t give you any idea how wild that song is.

Perhaps it may have too many ballads for some people, but they are all very sincere and solid songs. There are a lot of sappy, sell-out slow jams in the world, but nothing like that can be found on Emancipation, my friend.

E Barendregt, 19-11-96


I love you too.

Himanshu Jain, 20-11-96

I second the notion. Like any one that posts here they will get flamed for going against the ‘yes’ sir attitude. I hope to hell that I am totally wrong. But this album(s) will not be a commerical success. I have all offically relased albums from 4U. Nothing will compare to
SOTT. If accordigng to Rolling Stone’s article he want’s to go upto Jimmy Jam’s door step or Terry Lewis and play them the bomb. He’d better go on home. There is no commerically vibal hit on the album. He gained major cudos for doing the cover of Bonnie Raits I can’t make you love me but lost all the points in world for If god was one of us. UYGH. I never expected him to do that. What I except from our hero is songs like thunder – so f*(& beautiful. No artist currently living could do that. I buy his albums hoping a prince classic suchs starfish and coffe or I wish you heven. I think its good for his music that he is out of WB – now he has noone to blame. Comon – a major song relase should have been something like days of wild – that’s a song. Will he ever record an album without his falseto singing. It’s so wonderful to hear his deeper voice. But ever since kiss, his falseto has gone down.
Where is the majic gutiar that comes off his first album 4U last song. Just plays like the man. There are no classics on this CD. The only one that has a chance is sleep around. There are a couple of songs that are beautiful for there beauty but as far as I can tell don’t belong on the album. They belong on a great romantic movie – which he has nothing to do with except the movie is bassed on his music. I have no clue what the man is doing. I rarely here the violins in his music, I rarely here any wild drums. This album will not generate any new listeners. Maybe I am just a pop listner – but I am personal a deep critic of his. I always tell people to listen to SOTT and here the best. If I could I would make everyone listen to lovesexy. Parade had some cool sounds. Batdance was fun. the symbol album was the best of newer relases. If he thinks these are the vault hits – wrong. I am so mad, I just want to buy a new symbol CD and just go WOW. I could expound more, but I’ll
let the flames begin first and then attempt to make a defense or admit I am wrong


mpls…@aol.com, 21-11-96

wiseman wrote:

>> Their static automatons doing what their fans expect of them (read
>> Pearl Jam…U2….)

hmmmm one word ZOOROPA – how is that like anything U2 ever did? it’s not – 🙂


dino, 21-11-96

no comment

wiseman, 21-11-96

Himanshu Jain wrote:

>> Peace
Philistines all!!!!!!!!! Your all a bunch of lemmings! Go buy a Pearl Jam record!

milkbaby!, 21-11-96

wiseman wrote:
>> Philistines all!!!!!!!!! Your all a bunch of lemmings! Go buy a Pearl
>> Jam record!

This is falling straight into Himanshu’s argument!!

Personally, I love Prince’s (or “the artist” whatever) music, but I definitely wouldn’t consider myself part of the “yes man” crowd. When everybody hated “Batman”, I thought it was absolutely brilliant — so lively and energetic. Who could resist the high voltage “Electric Chair” or the catchy “Vicki Waiting”?

There’s obviously some O)+> albums I like less than others… and I have to admit I was not initially bowled over when I did a quick scan through the first few seconds of each song on “Emancipation”.
However, when I actually took the time for a real good listen, I have to say that it’s one impressive piece of work. O)+>’s voice sounds absolutely terrific again. The songs really groove — they’re both catchy yet identifiably “Prince-ian”. And our boy can still play that gee-tar (check out the solo on “One of Us”).

The one thing that probably works against it is it’s length. Personally, I love having three new
O)+> CD’s! But it’s so long that it can fool you into thinking there’s not as much variety on the album as there really is. If played the songs on random play on yer CD player, I bet we’d see that it’s almost as varied as “SOTT”. Not to knock “SOTT” — it’s still probably my
favorite Prince album. But who knows what it will be in a couple of years? And I’m not saying “Emancipation” ain’t great, because I do think it’s INCREDIBLE.

I only hope that the general public becomes half as excited about O)+> as I am right now!


Jmo…@ix.netcom.com, 21-11-96

William Rieske wrote:
>> hehe I just have to laugh at this. Alot of people are very pleased with
>> this album. It’s selling amazingly well I hear. I love the whole thing.
>> Granted some people just don’t have the attention spans to listen to
>> heartfelt ballads–but I would attribute that to watching too much T.V.
>> Then again other people can’t understand how much soul and love he put
>> into these songs. It’s truelly a beautiful work.
>> Roxanne

Actually I disagree. R&B ballads can be very generic and tiresome, especially one after the other. And let’s face it, Prince did some great Ballads in the 80’s like “The Beautiful ones” and “Condition if the Heart”. These were great songs, the new ones don’t even come close. I mean just listen to all these R&B and Hip Hop songs. They’re complete fodder. Much of Emancipation is generic R&B grooves. In fact, I counted up all the songs that I like and get ONE very good album of songs out of the bunch. It’s actually very consistent with his other albums where for every good song there are 3 bad ones. All this “Dawn! The Dawn is here and we are free and the music is free and It’s all good and new and . . blah blah blah ” …let’s face it the music is the SAME. Some of the songs have different production values but there’s nothing too ground breaking withing these songs. Some songs are downright unlistenable if not stomach turning. I was in class today and I mentioned that Prince was going to be on Oprah, the girl next to me said “Did you hear his new song?” I said “What? You mean Betcha By Golly wow?” she replied “Yes!! That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard from him!”. I also think it’s cheesy. I think the whole Warner Brothers thing and his Emancipation from their grasp is creating a mythology amongst Prince fans that his new albums will sell like hot cakes. People DO NOT LIKE PRINCE anymore. In fact, I would argue that Prince was really only popular for a few years in the eighties. The 16 – 30 album buying public aren’t going to buy prince albums because he’s not defined as any type of particular artist.
If I like hard rock I’ll buy a Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins or Van Halen record. If I specifically like R&B, Rap or hip hop then I’ll buy an R&B, rap or hip hop album. Yes we all know that Prince is capable of doing songs in these styles, but his spreading himself so thin, in terms of style, has destroyed his mainstream appeal. He almost makes it a point to turn every one of his songs into a funk/rock/pop/R&B stew, which for us Prince fans can be fun, but to everyone else it’s doesn’t equal “hey I’m going to go buy a Prince album today!”. I guess it’s too early to say what the album sales will be like though.

oneo…@aol.com, 22-11-96

“she replied “Yes!! That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard from him!”. I also think it’s cheesy.”

So you’re basing your opinion off of what ONE girl said in class???? Huh?
Was it a skater girl? a church going girl? an r&b fan?

I mean come on you can’t be this stupid.

oneo…@aol.com, 22-11-96

Actually, you’d dis the album no matter what. You were in one of the Prince IRC chat rooms and you were saying that Prince could never match the skills of U2, and that all of Prince’s 90’s work was shit. You also said said really bad things about his abilities. I would not believe a word you ‘d say… ever.

About the album… senseless fodder… wake up dude. You’re opinion was biased to begin with. You called GOLD trash… CHAOS trash… COME trash… GRAFFITI BRIDGE trash… i seriously doubt that a girl said that to you today… I get the impression that you’re full of shit… oh well… if it makes u happy.

Also, a lot of people in the Oprah chat room said they were were impressed with the Oprah show and would go out and buy the album… others said they had it and loved it… LA TIMES, NY TIMES, USA TODAY… 4 stars man… wake up, you’re pathetic.

Frank van der Linden, 22-11-96

While I do not agree with everything said here, there is a point there that I agree with. I originally got into Prince’s music because it was _different_. The way it sounded, the way it was arranged.. it was different than everything else out there. With each new album
you were in for new surprises. I used to feel really excited at the prospect of a new album. But now.. I’m not saying that his current work is bad. The man’s just too talented to put out something that’s bad. But I do miss that certain something that makes it different from the rest. I am disappointed when I hear a new song and it evolves around a fairly generic R&B groove. Sure, he always manages to add his own little nice touches, but I don’t get the feeling anymore of “Wow, he’s really different and out there”.
It’s hard to keep reinventing yourself of course.. he’s been making records for 18 years. There are very few artists who could keep coming up with new things over such a long period.

So, while his current work could never be called bad, I do miss the .. edginess and weirdness his 80s stuff had, and especially 85-87.

– Frank

William Rieske, 22-11-96

I have something else to add here. I think Emancipation will become a classic album. I think it will be a classic in it’s beauty. And I think that’s a high acomplishment for him.

Something else. Just what the hell do u expect of him? He is not here to please his fans. He is here to write his music and present it to us. he has a rare style of music that is classic in itself. But his world look, his spiritual look, his outlook on life, the content of his music, and his exression are ever evolving.

It’s disheartening to see that noone understands this. I’m just about to give up on his fans. But I certianly won’t give up on him.


oneo…@aol.com, 23-11-96

How about DISC II of Emancipation? Nothing out there sounds like the music on that DISC… and the experimental funkiness of DISC III? Come on… open your eyes.


Craig McGee, 27-11-96

>> Emancipation has greatly disappointed me. Where are songs like
>> ‘Crucial’, ‘Days of Wild’, ‘The Ride’, ‘Funky’ and ‘Funky Design’? These
>> songs are the bomb.

One who lives in the past will always be dissapointed. I will bet you your last dollar that if all the songs on Emancipation were to sound the way YOU want them to sound, you would be the first to complain that the artist is stuck in the past…and you saying “where is the new stuff??”.

Let me be clear…this is not a flame, just an opinion, and a damn good one!

“I see the future and it will be…”

Craig McGee



    • Elzo on 10/06/2021 at 11:02 PM
    • Reply

    A very fair review. I was extremely disappointed with this album at the time. For me Face Down stood out a mile as the only song worth re-listening to.

    1. Thanks for replying. It was a disappointment indeed.

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