20 Years Ago, Prince, Q-Tip & The Neptunes Made A Great Love Song (Audio)
As the third anniversary of Prince’s passing approaches (April 21), the Purple One’s legacy continues to be celebrated across genres. He had jam sessions with some of the elites in modern music, especially within Hip-Hop. He reportedly ministered to Talib Kweli while partying at an L.A. club. He played uncredited keys on a Mobb Deep song. He hosted the Soulquarians at Paisley Park during the recording of Common’s Electric Circus, apart from maintaining a strong bond with The Roots’ Questlove.
This month, The Neptunes and Q-Tip remix to Prince’s “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” formally came to the digital world. The original track was released in October of 1999 while Prince was performing under the “Love Symbol” moniker. It was the first single on his 23rd album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, which also involved Public Enemy’s Chuck D. With the reworked production by The Neptunes and added verses from Q-Tip, this was the first appearance of The Abstract and the Clones on a Prince-related recording. The updated cut was reportedly recorded at Paisley Park, but was only made available on 12” vinyl. During this time, a newly-solo Tip released the gold-certified Amplified. This was also during the same period that Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo were making hits with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Kelis, and N.O.R.E. Close to 20 years later, this remix is the latest relic coming out of the archives for all to enjoy—and it’s right on time.
While Chad and Pharrell lay down the foundation of the track with their distinctive Electro-Funk sound that includes the Star Trak signature percussion and woodwind, Prince kicks things off with sultry vocals saying, “So what do you know, you and me finally face to face / Checkin’ each other up and down, in all the obvious places.”
Q-Tip jumps in with the complementary: “All the places in the world we live / They can’t hold a candle to the light you give / For real, for real, I have a outlook that’s truly uncommon / And if you follow me, you’re more than a honor, man / The reason why I’m placed on the earth’s face / Is spitting rhymes, getting mines, watching your waist / Hourglass / Then you give me a hot flash / This romance give heat a sonic blast.”
As some years passed, The Neptunes sampled “Walk Don’t Walk” as a drum loop for JAY-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss,” and Pharrell revealed that in 2003 he wrote “Frontin” for Prince, but it never panned out. The Abstract formally worked with Prince on his “Chocolate Box” single and was even surprised at the House of Blues in Las Vegas during a set when Prince walked out during Q-Tip’s set and grabbed a guitar and played over “Vibrant Thing.”
Two days after Prince’s passing, Pharrell and Scott Verner paid tribute to Price on an episode of OTHERtone on Beats 1. While speaking on Prince’s music and legacy, Pha-real said, “He was a huge inspiration. Many songs of mine are like the children of his songs. That’s how like amazing he was. He warped the universe and wrote it to his likings. Everything that was around his work was made to submit. When his music came out, people were copying it, trying to be like it. They tried to get that Minneapolis Sound and when he started moving around they started trying to follow the sound of what he was doing. He was a magnet for good taste.”
Even though Skateboard P was not able to personally do a song like “Frontin’” with Prince. Prince’s legacy not only lives on through the music of Pharrell and others in Hip-Hop/R&B but all genres of music around the world.
#BonusBeat: Prince’s 1999 music video for “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold”: