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Gangster Glam and Voyeurism: Prince & the New Power Generation - "Jughead”

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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013
It’s a party, it’s a party song, its purpose is to maintain the impression that Prince’s new band can put on one hell of a show.
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Prince and the New Power Generation

Diamonds and Pearls

(Warner Brothers; US: 1 Oct 1991; UK: 1 Oct 1991)

“Jughead” is clearly considered the clunker on Diamonds and Pearls and one of the biggest missteps in Prince’s discography. The song’s main vocalist, the rapper Tony M, is treated like a pariah, a mistake. Out there on the Internet there’s a Prince fan who has even edited Tony M out of some of songs and posted the “improved” results. Let’s step back and take a breath, as well as a bird’s eye view on this.

Anthony Mosley was a backup dancer for Prince who was invited to rap on some songs. His style of rhyming is fairly basic, somewhat of a throwback for 1991. He won’t ever be mistaken for a technician, he probably wouldn’t have won many freestyle battles, and he will not, on “Jughead” or elsewhere, wow you with his dexterity.
On Diamonds and Pearls what Tony M. is, is another part of the entertainment package, another element to the band’s showbiz approach. “Jughead” is the one track on the album where he takes center stage (sort of), which doesn’t suit him or the album well. Prince isn’t about to let anyone up-stage him, we should know that by now.

“This is for the hood…better keep it greasy”, Tony M declares, but mostly the song is about a groove with some horns, plus the vocalists and musicians trying to keep the energy level up. There’s a dance at the center of this, I suppose—“You’ll catch me dead / Before you catch me doing anything but the jughead”—though I’ve never been sure what that is exactly.  They’re getting funky in the house, getting stupid, getting international up in the house. It’s a party, it’s a party song, its purpose is to maintain the impression that Prince’s new band can put on one hell of a show.

It’s also a group rapping effort, sort of, or at least both Rosie Gaines and Prince get to do their own little raps. To say Prince is still, even when he raps, the most interesting vocalist on the track might not be wrong. He also throws some little guitar licks in at the end of the song that pretty much steal the show.

The basic formula of the song—a horn-laden funk band getting down while Tony M hypes up the crowd—became the basic formula behind the New Power Generation’s first album without Prince in their name: 1993’s Goldnigga. Listen to that one, especially a track like “Black MF in the House”, if you want to hear how much Tony M’s rapping improves when his mentor isn’t right beside him, and when he lets anger light a fire within him.

Previous entries:

*“Daddy Pop”
*“Diamonds and Pearls”
*“Willing and Able”
*“Gett Off”
*“Walk Don’t Walk”

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