She’s Just a Baby

She’s Just a Baby

(Featured Image: The Hookers, 1981; L to R: Jamie Shoop, Susan Moonsie, Loreen Moonsie. Photo stolen from Denise Vanity Matthews–the Tumblr, not the person.)

The Time’s first album was completed quickly, even by Prince’s ever-increasing standards: recorded in April 1981, mixed (at Hollywood Sound Recorders in Los Angeles) by the end of the month, and released another three months later. In the meantime, the man behind the curtain was already devising a second group of protégés: an all-female counterpart to his first group’s male pimp aesthetic, charmingly named the Hookers.

In order to recruit his stable of Hookers, Prince stayed even closer to home than he had for the Time. He drafted his personal assistant, Jamie Shoop, who then-engineer Don Batts described as “a good-looking blonde… kind of a ballsy woman in a man’s world” (Nilsen 1999 63). The other two spots were filled by his girlfriend at the time, Susan Moonsie, and her sister Loreen.

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You

You

(Featured Image: Prince and Gayle Chapman, circa 1980; photo stolen from Lipstick Alley.)

As we discussed last week, one of the key functions of the Rebels project was that it allowed Prince to test out new and divergent musical approaches before incorporating them into his own “official” work. In particular, keyboardist Matt Fink later told biographer Per Nilsen, Prince “wanted to try this punk rock/new wave thing with The Rebels because he was too afraid to do that within the ‘Prince’ realm. It was an experiment” (Nilsen 1999 58). The experiment turned out to be a successful one: Prince’s next album, 1980’s Dirty Mind, would be heavily influenced by both the sounds of New Wave and the confrontational attitude of punk. But before there was “Dirty Mind,” “Sister,” or “When You Were Mine,” there was “You”: the laboratory where he constructed his edgy new style, and a minor classic in its own right.

Like “The Loser” and “If I Love You Tonight,” “You” was conceived as a vehicle for keyboardist and backing singer Gayle Chapman. Unlike those songs, however–or, indeed, any of Prince’s earlier attempts at writing from a woman’s perspective–here he casts Chapman in a much more sexually aggressive role. She shrieks the lyrics like a banshee in heat, licking her lips over a prospective lover’s hard-on and even threatening him with rape: the first known appearance of one of Prince’s darkest early lyrical tropes. Within a few months, Chapman would leave the band: a decision that has often been attributed to her objection to Prince’s increasingly outré lyrics. But, as she noted to the Beautiful Nights fan blog, “I sang ‘You.’ So, what? (Singing lyrics) ‘You get so hard I don’t know what to do.’ How stupid was I? ‘Take your pants off!’” (Dyes August 2013).

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Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

(Featured Image: CD Booklet from Carmen Electra, 1993; © Warner Bros.)

Look, guys, I’m not trying to fish for sympathy here, but it’s my goddamn birthday and I just wrote a post about Carmen Fucking Electra’s Prince-produced 1993 album. Okay, maybe I am trying to fish for sympathy. Just click the damn link and share in my misery:

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Don’t worry, though, I also take some time in this post to talk about Prince’s work on Martika’s Kitchen–which, incidentally, is also celebrating a birthday, as it turns 25 years old today! Remember to come back next week for more posts on, frankly, much better music. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go actually try to enjoy my birthday…Carmen-free.

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

(Featured Image: Ingrid Chavez in Graffiti Bridge, 1990.)

I’m not gonna lie, guys: my enthusiasm was flagging for this post. Graffiti Bridge has never been my favorite Prince album/era, and I’m just not ready to give it another serious try (fortunately, I have plenty of time to work my way up to it on this blog). But I did my best to give Tevin Campbell, Elisa Fiorillo, and Ingrid Chavez the consideration they deserve (not Robin Power though, she’s still wack af).

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

Honestly, though, I should count my blessings, because next week is–deep breath–Carmen Electra. We all have a week to brace ourselves. Let’s start drinking now.