Hit ‘N’ Run Phase 2 – Prince

HITnRUN Phase Two

In late 2015, Prince released the second and final installment of his “Hit “N” Run album exclusively on Tidal before giving it a much wider release on other digital music platforms. Sadly, it was to be his last-ever album of all original material before he passed away on April 21st 2016. Two months prior, Prince gave the CD away to fans who attended his “Piano & Microphone” tour in Australia, just as he’d done back in 2004 on his “Musicology” tour in the United States. Shortly after his Australian tour, the “Hit N Run Phase 2” CD became available for purchase in stores via Universal Music. Now, here’s what I have to say about this album…. possibly in a few thousand words:

Baltimore: Prince sings about the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray in Baltimore over a guitar riff reminiscent of the “Mountains” B-Side, “Alexa De Paris.” The main message here is to spread peace throughout the world, to put the guns away, love one another and unite. A great, positive message to kick off to kick off the album. “If there ain’t no justice, then there ain’t no peace.” So true that is. Prince actually hit the nail on the had, as far as political messages are concerned. He concludes the song assuming the role of a news reporter before it finally fades out and brings us 2…….

Rock ‘N’ Roll Love Affair: Reminiscent of “Take Me With U” & “1999,” this song was originally released in 2012 on a European Dance Music label, which just so happens to be called, “Purple Music.” Allegedly, the subject matter is his affair with Andy Allo, who appeared in the video playing guitar. “She believed in fairy tales & Princes.” Especially those Princes whose surnames just so happens to be Nelson. He sure loved referring to himself, didn’t he? It wouldn’t be a Prince song without any innuendo: “She said it’s tight, but I think I could fit you in,” which he sings with a slight chuckle. Good to know he was still naughty. He performed this tune quite a lot on his “Piano & Microphone” tour in Australia and he had us all chanting, “Rock, rock, love affair!!” Good times indeed.

Too Young To Dare: Great horn-filled funk tune all about a girl who’s clearly quite a knock-out! She has a pair of really great, long legs and every guy wants to introduce himself to her. “2 fine 4 Idol 2 smart 4 the X Factor. Internet beauty everybody want 2 hack her.” Gotta love that verse!! Of course in classic Princely fashion, this song is spelt as “2.Y.2.D.” Why was this song never a hit? An Aussie musician by the name of Justin Stanley is credited playing keys and “handclaps” on this track. He’s produced albums for the very Prince influenced Jamie Lidell and was once in a big named rock band called Noiseworks.

Look At Me, Look At You: Time for some mid-tempo funk now. Whomever Prince was writing about definitely had him smitten. Definitely not the first time either!! He compares this particular girl to Nefertiti, an ancient Egyptian Queen. This girl is so fine that Prince loses his balance when he looks at her!! Even Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can see how good she looks. Trust Prince to throw in a lyric like that one!! That’s definitely typical of him. So is the lyric where he’s singing about praising his woman, to the point where other women get jealous & roll their eyes. He could certainly paint quite a vivid picture.

Stare: Somewhat of an autobiographical song: Prince sings about performing on stage in his underwear earlier in his career, but then changing up over the years. The FUNK displayed on this track is more in line with James Brown and especially Larry Graham with that bass guitar popping all over the place and those horns blowing. As cool as this song was and still is, it seemed a little contradictory at the time of its initial release, as Prince always spoke adamantly in interviews about not wanting to look back, yet, here he is actually singing about “walking into the past” and referencing two of his older songs, “Kiss” and “Sexy Dancer.” Only Prince could pull off a song like this one, though!! I can’t imagine any other male artist singing about going on stage in his drawers!! NO!!!!

Extra-loveable: Prince is one of the most bootlegged artists of all time and “Extra Loveable” was one of those songs that was circulating for many years among the hardcore fanbase, originally recorded during the “1999” sessions back in 1982. It was never officially released until 2011, with entirely different musical and lyrical rearrangements, hence making it the oldest song on “Hit N Run Phase 2.” One listen to the original version, though, will prove to you that Prince was most definitely a wild boy in the early days of his career.

For instance, there was initially a lyric in this song about his “rap” that wasn’t “as hard” as what was “behind door number pants,” but in 2011, he replaced that line with, “Not as strong as your perfume.” Likewise, he’s no longer singing about his girlfriend being so fine she could turn his own mother on!! He’d also made a reference to rape in the original, however he must’ve had a very serious change of heart.

In fact, Prince’s lyrics had changed so much in 2011, that he couldn’t even sing the phrase, “Between your thighs.” He’s literally censored the word “thighs” out with a trumpet sound, but he was laughing, so it must’ve been a joke.

The released version on this particular album is cool…. but the original from 1982 is so raw and so funky it makes you wanna say, “YAISS!!!! What time is it?!” “CHILLI SAUCE!!!”

Groovy Potential: Perhaps this was song was Prince’s way of saying, “We’re jamming… and I hope you like jamming, too.” Or rather, he and his band have a funky groove going on…. that also has quite a lot of piano parts throughout it, especially in the intro, which initially made me feel like it was going to be another ballad and that even it sounded kind of sad for some reason. Maybe it was just the way I was hearing it. The website Prince Vault says that Michael Bland plays drums on this song, but the CD booklet doesn’t seem to credit him. Prince also makes a reference to his song “Dance 4 Me” from the “Minneapolis Sound” CD, released in 2009.

When She Comes: Oh, yes. Now it’s time for Prince to do exactly what he does best: Seduce his listeners with a sexy ballad. His trademark falsetto glides all over this one and he’s even included a piano accordion! Wow, I never thought I’d see the day where he would do this… although, wasn’t there an accordion on “Do U Lie”? Still, it was somewhat surprising to hear him including one. If he was trying to go for a European, or more specifically, an Italian type of feeling, then he’s done a good job. He even references Limincello, an Italian lemon liqueur. Subject matter aside, this song isn’t really all that steamy…. at least not compared to some of his other sexier ballads. Not taking anything away from it, though, it’s still a decent song. On the other hand, we have…

Screwdriver: One of the first songs released with his all-female backing band, 3rd Eye Girl back in 2013. It’s a hard rocking type of tune in which Prince was clearly trying to be raunchy again: “I’m your driver, you’re my screw!,” runs the chorus. It’s a pretty raw sounding song and his vocals are practically shouted. Rawer still, is the remix which was exclusively released through his, as usual, very short-lived website, 3rd Eye Tunes. How many times did Prince play this song on his “Piano & Microphone” tour in Australia? Plenty! Fans initially though that “Screwdriver” was going to appear on his “Plectrum Electrum” album with 3rd Eye Girl, but they were proven wrong. Prince and the girls even made a video for this song at Paisley Park but, uh…. no comment.

Black Muse: Prince most definitely got deep when he made this song. He’s talking about black people being unfairly mistreated and all of their struggles over the years. He then goes on to remind us that it was in fact the black folks in America who invented R&B, Rock and Jazz, among other genres of music. This has to be one of the biggest statements that Prince has possibly ever made throughout his entire career. Lord knows he never got this deep before. Basically, this song is a celebration….. admittedly, it almost sounds as though he’s about to say something nasty. Lucky for us, it turns out to be: “WHY THE FIFTH held forever will make you cry.” Get your mind out of the gutter, people, he was talking about playing a chord on the piano.

Revelation: One more ballad for the road, which features the line, “2 keep doing U until U come… 2 revelation.” Prince was still a very sly character, wasn’t he? Of course he sang this one almost entirely in falsetto, occasionally slipping into a much deeper vocal style. And what would a Prince song be if it didn’t feature him playing his guitar? Again, it seems to have somewhat of a deeper meaning when compared to other Prince ballads, as it concludes with references to Ancient Greece and “the colour of the Pharaoh’s hand,” which is echoed and slowed down until the song finally fades out.

Big City: “All right, U polaroids!” I don’t think Prince has used this phrase since he was a young man in the early ‘80s, producing those records for The Time. Another big hit on his “Piano & Microphone” tour in 2016, this one features LEDISI on backing vocals and even an operatic breakdown! Everyone’s interpretation is different, but it seems to be talking about all of the big cities that Prince and his band have visited over the years, so it’s probably not that deep lyrically. It’s still kinda funky though and not a bad closer. Although, some fans have found it a little freaky that the last words he says are quite simply, “That’s it,” followed by quite a huge moment of silence. Perhaps he was just concluding the album and this particular song, for that matter, in his own unique way.

Verdict: Overall, this is quite a solid Prince album. And if he was worried about “The Black Album” being the last thing that he would’ve leave behind if he’d passed back in the mid eighties, then he had nothing to worry about when he released “Hit ’N’ Run Phase 2.” It’s the perfect way for him to go out. It’s political, it’s funky, it’s sexy, it’s seductive…. hey, it’s Prince. And it’s most definitely a huge improvement from “Hit ’N’ Run Phase One,” that’s for sure. Give respect to Prince’s last ever studio album.