Prince’s Journey from ‘The Black Album’ to ‘Lovesexy’ (Part 1 of 2)

Chris Lacy
6 min readMay 1, 2023

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Photo Credit: Prince Discography Annotated

It is New Year’s Eve 1987. Prince has opened the doors to his creative sanctuary, Paisley Park.

He and his world-class band are performing Adore,” one of the greatest love songs ever to bless a pair of eardrums.

Halfway through the song, Prince opens up to his fans…

“Sometimes the world is dark. Sometimes the world is full of confusion…

You don’t know which way to turn…

Anybody ever been in that predicament? Raise your hand…

Anybody ever been confused? Raise your hand…

There’s somebody that can help you through that!”

This moment may be insignificant to some people. But it reveals why I’m convinced that Lovesexy is the album Prince was born to make.

To understand his miraculous path to get here, let’s rewind…

Photo Credit: Jeff Katz

ACT I: A DAY IN THE LIFE

The Black Album, a.k.a. Spooky Electric (read: Satan), is a cautionary tale about spiritual warfare. Prince is giving in to his selfish desires to avoid feeling powerless. Helpless. It represents the darkness within him, within all of us. It forces Prince to have an intervention within himself.

By the late 1980s, you’d think Prince is on top of the world — he isn’t. Because his album sales have dipped since Purple Rain, Warner Bros. forces him to edit his triple album, Crystal Ball, down to a double album, Sign O’ the Times.

He’s concerned his passion is becoming more about business than music…

“Ever since my third album, I wasn’t taking large advances from the recording companies. I was recording the albums myself in my own studio. So, the way I looked at it, I owned the work because I paid for it. And I did all the work; I created it, so I felt like it should belong to me…” — Prince

One of his loudest critics believes he lost his funk…

“Prince’s most irksome trait was that, like [Michael] Jackson, he aided those who saw blackness as a hindrance in the commercial marketplace by running from it.” — Nelson George

His inner circle is now voicing all his worst thoughts about himself…

“I was an expert at cutting off people in my life and disappearing without a glance back, never to return. Half the things people were writing about me were true.” — Prince

Spooky Electric latches onto Prince’s insecurities; it senses his doubts and frustrations. It knows he needs a way to regain control.

Photo Credit: Jeff Katz

ACT II: NEW LEVELS, NEW DEVILS

As Prince engages the world around and inside him, he uses Spooky Electric to fight a twisted image of himself.

With its free-form funk and TDK-quality charm, The Black Album serves up a Princely middle finger to the haters!

And the first time he feels the effects of The Black Album’s power, he’s trying to prevent a catastrophe. A trauma that once happened to him…

“[I remember when] I didn’t have any money, so I’d just stand outside [McDonald’s] and smell stuff. Poverty makes people angry, brings out their worst side.” — Prince

Spooky Electric seems to help him prevent the pain. Prevent reliving the loss that stuck with him. It makes sense that he would believe The Black Album makes him feel stronger, better, blacker. It takes the pressure off…

“What if everybody around me split? Then I’d be left with only me, and I’d have to fend for me. That’s why I have to protect me.” — Prince

Photo Credit: Jeff Katz

ACT III: A CHANGE OF HEART

But there’s always a cost. All that self-isolation, locking yourself away, stuck in your mind, creates a spiral of negativity. It hides the warm parts of yourself.

You can’t change your past, your trauma, or your mistakes. You can’t bring back those you’ve lost. You can try to inject, eat, sex, snort, smoke, or drink your problems away. But when that temporary pleasure wears off, you’re still left with yourself, the brokenness, the trauma.

And sometimes, when you reach that blackness, that bottom, it takes the most unlikely ally to help you realize how much you’ve given away, fallen into your selfishness, your self-harm. How much you’ve thrown away to escape that feeling of loss…

One Tuesday night, I went alone [to Williams Nightclub for “Funk Night.”] Prince walked in. He kept looking at me, and there was just something sad in his eyes. I sent him a note: ‘Hi. Remember me? Smile. I love it when you smile…’ Then he asked me if I wanted to take a drive to Paisley Park, and I said ‘Ok.’” — Ingrid Chavez

Life teaches us that the only way out of the darkness is through it, facing it all head-on…

“I was very angry a lot of the time back then, and that was reflected in [‘The Black Album’]. I suddenly realized that we can die at any moment, and we’d be judged by the last thing we left behind. I didn’t want that angry, bitter thing to be the last thing. I learned from that album, but I don’t want to go back.” — Prince

Prince realizes that if he has breath in his lungs, he can be a masterpiece and a work in progress…

“I wanted to make [music] about an experience that changed me. Made me think differently about what I wrote, why I wrote, and how I acted towards people.” — Prince

“[Prince] was beginning to question his own spirituality… God, lust, sex, relationships… We were both just in a spiritual, creative space. I spent a lot of time just hanging out at Paisley Park.” — Ingrid Chavez

The Black Album is raw, real, inspirational. It doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality we all face. Prince is flawed, cursed with the same desires and fears we all have…

“I feel good most of the time, and I like to express that by writing from joy. I still do write from anger sometimes… but I don’t like to. It’s not a place to live.” — Prince

FINAL THOUGHTS

And now, here we are, back at Prince’s New Year’s Eve gig.

The Black Album showed him that hitting rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountaintops can’t. But your greatest pain can also be your greatest testimony.

Welcome to a moment in Prince history…

“Raise your hand one more time…

Now, just point your finger like that… *Prince aims his right index at the sky.*

That’s who will help you…

If you understand, wave your hand…

Oh yeah!”

CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO!

Video Credit: TV YACINE DZ

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Chris Lacy

I aim to write stories that move you today and stay with you forever.