An unreleased Prince album recorded in 2010, Welcome 2 America, will finally be heard in July. It will be the first time since Prince died unexpectedly, in 2016, that the singer's estate has released a completed album from the late funk star's storied vault of leftover music.
The title track of the 12-song album, which was recorded at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios, outside Minneapolis, has been released. It is a loping, spacey funk song with spoken-word lyrics that feature a typically arch and withering examination of a US characterised as the “Land of the free / home of the slave” – harking back to the early 1990s, when Prince cast himself as enslaved to his record label Warner.
Prince's mythically enormous vault is thought to contain hundreds, or potentially thousands, of unreleased songs. It had to be drilled into after his death, as he was reportedly the only person with access to it
Famously resistant to internet culture, Prince frames the US as being “where everything and nothing that Google says is hip” and subject to digital surveillance, its citizens “distracted by the features of the iPhone … Hook up later at the iPad / or we can meet at my place.”
Another line reads: “Go to school to become a celebrity, but don’t be late / Because everybody and their mama got a sex tape.” He concludes that the country’s global power is waning: “You can either learn Chinese / or get down on your knees.”
After recording the Welcome 2 America album, Prince announced a tour of the same name, telling prospective ticketholders in a written statement: “Bring friends, bring Ur children, and bring foot spray, because … it’s gonna B funky.” He also warned: “The world is fraught with misin4mation. George Orwell’s vision of the future is here.”
A deluxe version will feature a previously unreleased concert film of a 2011 Prince gig at the Forum in Inglewood, California, a 23-song set that includes cover versions of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, Janet Jackson’s What Have You Done for Me Lately and, closing the show, Roxy Music’s More Than This. It will also feature a 32-page book, photographic art print, poster and replica items from the era: a sticker, set list, ticket, VIP invitation and backstage passes.
A double vinyl edition will featured an etched design on the fourth side. An additional 7in release will feature the title track, alongside a live rendition on the B-side recorded in 2011 as a medley with the song Dreamer.
The July 30th release will excite fans eager for the release of further archive material, drawn from Prince’s mythically enormous vault, which is thought to contain hundreds, or potentially thousands, of unreleased songs. The vault had to be drilled into after his death, as he was reportedly the only person with access to it.
Two posthumous collections have been released: the stunning acoustic set Piano and a Microphone 1983, and Originals, a compilation of demos of songs, such as Manic Monday, that he wrote for other artists. Expanded versions of the albums Purple Rain, 1999 and Sign o’ the Times have also been issued, featuring unreleased tracks from the vault.
It has been a fraught road for the estate since the singer died from an accidental overdose of an opioid painkiller five years ago this month. While Prince was known for fastidious control over his career, including retaining ownership of much of his music, he left no will. Prince was determined to have six family members who qualified as heirs, although one, a half-brother, has since died.
The release of Welcome 2 America will come via Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, which began releasing Prince music after an earlier $31 million deal between the estate and Universal Music was rescinded by a US judge. The estate has since faced tax problems with the United States' Internal Revenue Service, which said that the estate is worth $163.2 million – nearly double the $82.3 million claimed by the estate's administrator, Comerica Bank & Trust. A judge overseeing the estate has referred to a state of "personal and corporate mayhem." – Guardian, New York Times