Prince’s new Universal album, “3121,” is less than three weeks away from its March 21 release, but seven of its 12 tracks have yet to be given official titles. Regardless, the full disc was previewed yesterday (March 1) for media, who were told that Prince had declined to explain the meaning of the album’s title and that the release date was chosen simply to coincide with it.
Never one to back away from unusual promotions, Prince is including a limited number of “Purple Tickets” with the physical CDs, granting lucky fans access to a private performance at his Minneapolis compound, Paisley Park. Listeners who purchase the “Black Sweat” single via Apple’s iTunes Music Store will also be entered to win entrance.
“3121,” which features guest appearances from new Prince protege Tamar as well as saxophonist Maceo Parker, preserves the artist’s hybrid style, savvy instrumentation and flair for up-tempo jams. Beyond “Black Sweat” (the top debut this week on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 60) and earlier single “Te Amo Corazon,” the only other selections with confirmed names are the title cut, the Tamar duet “Beautiful, Loved & Blessed” and “Fury,” which was performed last month on “Saturday Night Live.”
Many of the remaining tracks are vintage Prince, with the expected splashes of rock, R&B and jazz. One of two R&B-tinged tunes finds Prince rapping swiftly, while a funky standout likely titled “Lolita” (“Lolita/you’re sweet-a/but you’ll never make a cheater outta me”) seems primed to be chosen as a single. Two tracks utilize special vocal effects similar to the Vocoder that Zapp’s Roger Troutman popularized in the 1980s.
“3121” is the follow-up to 2004’s “Musicology,” which debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
A Prince world tour is in the works but dates have yet to be announced.