While it not be quite the most exalted pantheon in music history – Mavis Staples, Patti Labelle and The Time are in there, sure, but so are Martika, Vanity/Apollonia 6, Bria Valente, Andre Cymone, Tevin Campbell, Carmen Electra, Mayte Garcia, Sheila E., Sheena Easton, Ingrid Chavez and Taja Savelle – the labyrinth of Prince sock projects form a pretty fascinating alternate history to the conventional Prince lore offered in the rock mags.
One where rather than being the most alien-sexy pop star of all time, Prince was some dude who wrote kinda pervy-kinda funky songs for other people.
Pre-religion Prince was obviously pretty obsessed with sex, but most pointedly seemed to be his interest in it from a women’s perspective. He adopted female personas and mapped his own hypersexualized, kinda icky but always funny ideas about rutting onto unfathomable parallel universe girl-Princes – most famously with Camille, the pitched-up-Prince who he scrapped a concept album by.
But his writing and production for actual women is often just as interesting. He possesses the ability like no other to be sappily romantic and utterly filthy within the same song, same line, even.
You get the feeling when he writes for women, though, that he isn’t attempting to sing from their perspective at all – every note and grunt and slap and orgasmic sigh of the music is indistinguishable from proper Prince, the vocal melodies and lyrics are unmistakably his, and so is the lasciviousness. No, this isn’t Prince trying to understand the female sex-psyche, this is Prince using pop music to cast himself in the image of a woman to better admire his purple self, find him all the more ravishing.
Here are two pretty cool examples, from 1987 and 1998 respectively: