Prince’s estate will soon issue a completed record from the mercurial artist’s storied music vault, the first never-before-heard album released since the musician’s shock death five years ago.
“Welcome 2 America” – a 12-track album finished in 2010, but shelved for reasons unknown in the famous vault at Prince’s Paisley Park compound near Minneapolis – offers a prophetic window into social struggles at today’s forefront, delving into racism, political division, technology and disinformation.
Melding urgent lyricism with languorous funk, the pop shapeshifter Prince sings of America as the “land of the free / home of the slave.”
The artist, who died at 57 on April 21, 2016 following an accidental fentanyl overdose, could not have known that in the years following his death his beloved home city would explode in furor and protest after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man.
But Prince was a career activist, advocating for the empowerment of Black people in the recording industry and beyond.
“You go to school just to learn / about what never existed,” Prince sings on the closing track “One Day We Will All B Free.”
“But if your history only burns / it’s better to resist it.”
The album, out July 30, sees Prince level “a laser-focused assault on the condition of America,” said Morris Hayes, Prince’s longtime keyboardist and musical director.
“What’s going on with social media, social justice, and social consciousness... this is a concerted effort to really speak about these things,” said Hayes, who co-produced the album.