This article uses the word nigga, as it is part of the name of the album discussed in this article. In public outings n**** is used instead.
“STOP RACISM NOW!”
In 1991 rap and hip-hop had finally entered Prince’s work with the release of Prince And The New Power Generation’s debut album Diamonds And Pearls. The backing band would release an album under their own name, incorporating that music even more into the typical Paisley Park sound.
Rap and hip-hop
During the 1980s Prince lived in his own ‘purple’ world and that had resulted in an unequalled string of genius albums, on which Prince took himself and his audience on a ride in his ever changing career and artistic vision. Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999, Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Parade, Sign O’ The Times and Lovesexy showed an artist who was only getting better, more exciting and more complex. Rap and hip-hop passed the world of Prince by. He knew it existed, but it didn’t do anything for him, he even looked down on it, as evidenced by the song Dead On It on the retracted 1987 The Black Album.
Negros from Brooklyn play the bass pretty good
But the ones from Minneapolis play it like it oughta should
See the rapper’s problem usually stem from being tone deaf
Pack the house then try to sing
There won’t be no one left
© 1987 Prince
In 1989 Prince changed his mind quite radically. The movie Do The Right Thing had just come out and former Revolution member Wendy Melvoin played Public Enemy‘s Fight The Power at a party in Paisley Park. Everyone present reacted frantically to the song and started to dance. Everyone, except Prince. He took the song in and realized that hip-hop had earned its place in the world of music. Melvoin: “He knew it changed, right there. He knew”.
Coincidence or not, in 1991 Gett Off was released. Prince raps/sings in the song, which is built around the Funky Drummer rhythm, including a James Brown sample. Enter hip-hop.
Raps were primarily geared towards Tony M., part of The Game Boyz, three dancers, who were introduced during the Nude Tour. The qualities of Tony M. as a rapper is open for debate, but the fact is that Prince had a lot of faith in Tony M. He was given plenty of room on the album Diamonds And Pearls (1991) and the following O(+> (1992).
In general, Tony M.’s raps were not favorable to the music, but nowhere was it so blatantly obvious as in the truly dramatic Jughead. Particularly live, Tony M.’s raps were reduced to indecipherable screams. The raps were far removed from the messages of hip-hop legends like Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, N.W.A., Ice Cube and Ice-T.
The New Power Generation
In April 1992 the idea of a ‘solo’ album by The New Power Generation was born, when Prince And The New Power Generation, while in the middle of the Australian leg of their Diamonds And Pearls tour, recorded the songs Goldnigga and Deuce & A Quarter at Studios 301, Sydney. After the tour was completed the rest of the songs were recorded at Paisley Park, Minneapolis. In May 1993 the last song for the album was recorded: 2gether. The upcoming album was complemented with two songs stemming from late 1991: Johnny and Call The Law. The latter song had been released in March 1992 as the B-side to the Prince And The New Power Generation single Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.
Even though Prince can be heard all over the album, not just in his vocals but vibe and production wise as well, the album is accredited to The New Power Generation and is regarded as the group’s debut. It’s also the first album to be released on the newly founded NPG Records.
The official release date has been established on August 31, 1993, as the album was sold at a Prince And The New Power Generation Act II show in Paris on that date for the very first time. Remarkable really, by then Tony M. was no longer a part of The New Power Generation anymore.
Contrary to much of the hip-hop of the time, Goldnigga essentially is a live alive album, with musicians playing the instruments that were usually programmed by drum machines and synthesizers. But still, the album most definitely possesses a hip-hop feel. Lyrically as well, as it is aimed at the black community, a number of issues are addressed, among which the widely present (institutionalized) racism, disadvantage and disease (AIDS is explicitly mentioned). All the subjects are dealt with in the album’s three key songs.
Black M.F. In The House
Key song 1 is the phenomenal, extremely funky, Black M.F. In The House, which portrays The New Power Generation visiting a typical ‘red-neck’ bar. The song humorfully exposes the painful white racism. Prince (clearly audible and recognizable) passionately raps:
Don’t U hate it when a jig is in the house?
He ain’t been in the club 5 minutes
‘Fore 6 or 7 cuss words flyin’ out his mouth
Hand all on his erection
Makin’ rude gestures in your girl’s direction
Don’t U hate it when they get up and dance?
U don’t watch Soul Train, U ain’t got a chance
What the hell they got 2 come here 4?
Next time we need a big white sign at the door that says
“No black motherfuckers in the house”
© 1993 Prince
To send the message even further home, the song ends with the chant “STOP RACISM NOW!”.
Key song 2 is about being stuck in a hopeless, desperate life, where the promise of the American dream seems unattainable.
Your boy got popped in a driveby yesterday
He’ll be lucky if he makes it through the night is what the doctors say
U can take revenge or U can be the one 2 break the chain
U look up in the sky 4 an answer and it starts 2 rain
What are we if we’re not 2gether?
How do we make a life that’s better?
’cause when we be killin’ one another
How do we call each other brother?
© 1993 Prince
Key song 3 is Johnny, which addresses the use of condoms. Over a languid, incredibly funky, beat the real message is announced (“Stop AIDS”).
The album title is written as Gold Nigga on several online sites and in several articles. I use the name Goldnigga, as the album is called on prince.com, the official online channel owned by the Prince Estate.
Because of the beginning fight with Warner Brothers (also see Prince and the name change) about contracts, marketing and Prince’s conviction he was being obstructed by Warner Brothers, the release of Carmen Electra’s album was the nail in the coffin for Paisley Park Records. The album’s release signified the irreconcilable distance between both parties.
Prince had quickly founded his own, independent, label, NPG Records, which was not affiliated with Warner Brothers. Distribution was left up to Prince himself. Goldnigga was pressed in small amounts and was made available at concerts and mail-order via the 1-800-NEW-FUNK phone number and, later, at the Celebration activities at Paisley Park in 2001. The album is quite rare. It’s also not available on any streaming service. Contrary to the other two album accredited to The New Power Generation, Goldnigga was not part of the 2005 deal with Tidal.
To promote the album a single was released, 2gether. During the 1993 European Act II tour, Prince And The New Power Generation regularly played songs off the Goldnigga album. Johnny was the most played. The tour was done without Tony M., who was Goldnigga‘s primary performer. Rosie Gaines, who can be clearly heard on Call The Law, had left The New Power Generation even earlier.
My opinion on the albums Diamonds And Pearls and O(+> is negative. I think they’re over produced and containing too much fillers. But my hatred is mostly geared to the hip-hop that’s woven into the music. It feels unnatural, is (very) badly executed and provides cringeworthy pieces (the aforementioned Jughead being the ultimate example). Everything hip-hop is and was at the time, this isn’t.
The remarkable thing is that the album is fiercely hated within the Prince community, and highly valued as well. There are even those who claim those albums are their favorites. The fact is that those albums yielded a lot of new fans for Prince, especially at the time. The concerts were seen by thousands and thousands of people and were all sold out. In the Netherlands alone Prince And The New Power Generation played their Diamonds And Pearls tour no less than 7 (!) times.
By many, most of the blame for hating the albums is geared towards Tony M. Truth be told, Tony M.’s rapping leaves a lot to be desired, but on the Goldnigga album it all works really well. I have a weak spot for Goldnigga, the mood, the music and, yes, even the raps. Somehow is all gels. The album contains a number of classics in the entire Prince body of work. Classics I still gladly listen to today.
Maybe Goldnigga is of less interest to non-Prince music lovers (although: please listen to Black M.F. In The House if at all possible), but the album deserves a more than adequate rating.
All songs written by Prince, Michael B., Sonny T., Levi Seacer Jr., Tommy Barbarella, Morris Hayes, Tony M., Damon Dickson & Kirk Johnson, unless stated otherwise. It may be entirely possible that all songs were written by Prince, without any help from others.
All songs credited to The New Power Generation.
- Goldnigga Pt. 1
- Guess Who’s Knockin’ (+ Paul & Linda McCartney)
- Deuce & A Quarter
- Black M.F. In The House
- Goldnigga Pt. 2
- Goldie’s Parade
- 2gether (Prince & Tony M.)
- Call The Law (+ Rosie Gaines)
- Goldnigga Pt. 3
Guess Who’s Knockin’ was only available on the 1st and 2nd pressing (probably due to the use of a sample of the Wings song Let ‘Em In).
On the album cover the band members are of The New Power Generation are named: Tony M., Levi Seacer Jr., Michael B., Sonny T., Kirky J., Damon Dickson, Tommy Barbarella & Morris Hayes.
This is partially correct, the musicians playing on the album are:
- Tony M. – vocals, rap
- Levi Seacer, Jr. – guitar
- Michael B. – drums
- Sonny T. – bass, background vocals on 2gether
- Kirk Johnson (Kirky J.) – background vocals, percussion
- Damon Dickson – background vocals
- Tommy Barbarella – piano and vocals
- Morris (Mr.) Hayes – organ, synthesizers and vocals
Accompanied by (uncredited on the cover):
- Prince – vocals on Black M.F. In The House and Johnny, background vocals and all instruments
- Michael B. Nelson, Kathy Jensen, Dave Jensen, Brian Gallagher, Steve Strand – horns
- Lester Chambers – harmonica on Black M.F. In The House (sample of The Chamber Brothers’ I Can’t Stand It)
- Willow – voice
- Rosie Gaines – background vocals on Call The Law and Deuce & A Quarter (sample of Prince & The New Power Generation’s Horny Pony)
- Carmen Electra – vocals on Goldnigga Pt. 2 and Goldnigga Pt. 3
- Others – voice on segues and Johnny
The reason that Tony M. was no longer part of The New Power Generation by the time Goldnigga was released, is unclear. Maybe lack of success is part of the reason. Tony M. was offered the chance to co-compose on the Carmen Electra album. The album flopped. The latest Prince And The New Power Generation album O(+> also wasn’t the success Prince had hoped for. Maybe Tony M. was partly blamed?
Fact is that the influence of rap and hip-hop was dialed down, and was replaced by typical Prince music, music based on Prince’s world and convictions. Room was given to other influences, like R&B.
In 1995 The New Power Generation would return with a radical different (musical) accent with the fantastic Exodus. In 1998 the album Newpower Soul was released , the last album using the moniker The New Power Generation.
What’s your take on Goldnigga? Let me know!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: The New Power Generation debuts with Goldn****.
The New Power Generation – Call The Law – Video, Public Enemy – Fight The Power – Video images: youtube.com
The New Power Generation – Goldnigga image: prince.com
The New Power Generation – 2gether image: themusicshopandmore.com
The New Power Generation – Goldnigga – CD, The New Power Generation – Goldnigga – Back cover, The New Power Generation – Goldnigga – CD inlay images: discogs.com
The New Power Generation 1995 image: ultimateprince.com