Chris Rock Looks Back at 'Purple Rain': '30 Years Later, There's Nothing Remotely Close'
"When Purple Rain came out, I was a DJ with guys on my block, playing block parties. That summer, the big thing was Run-D.M.C. -- Born in the USA, blah blah blah, the streets were playing "Sucker MCs" and "It's Like That." I remember "When Doves Cry" mixed into "It's Like That" perfectly, and even at a block party, when all we wanted to hear was hip-hop, "When Doves Cry" was so hardcore, such an amazing record. "Take Me With U" is probably my favorite on the album, it's just a beautiful song. But those drums on "When Doves Cry?" With no bass? And the lyric was not corny at all. It makes all the sense in the world, and it makes no sense. You can't write a song like that now -- music today has no metaphors, it's all literal. Now they would make you say, “When love dies" or something.
There's not a bad record on Purple Rain. Thriller is allegedly the best album of all time, and that has at least two bad songs on it. There's no "Baby Be Mine" on Purple Rain.
I remember seeing the movie two or three times the first day it came out. It was mind-boggling. Prince was funny. He was really cool -- he's one of the last guys with a real mystique. We were all like, "Where the fuck is Minneapolis? Who are these guys?" I saw the Purple Rain tour from the last row of the arena. It was one of my first concerts. We all wore purple. I forget which girl I went with, but I didn't get laid. Anyway, I've been lucky to sit in the last row and to sit on stage with the guy. He's the best there is. Thirty years later, there's nothing remotely close." – As told to Alan Light
An edited version of this story appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.