Prince Gets ‘High’ and Reclaims His Name: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
A quarter-century after Roxy Music declared “love is the drug for me,” Prince offered an even funkier path to finding a natural buzz — his music: “I'll get U high again / Prince gon' get U high.”
As he was want to do, Prince ultimately scrapped the High record, though the title track was salvaged. In fact, unlike higher profile unreleased projects like the original Crystal Ball and Dream Factory albums, all of the tracks earmarked for High were formally released elsewhere.
As the track continues, Prince paints the picture of how his music takes any ordinary day to a higher level. “Making your way through the neighborhood / Looking 4 some good boys, toys / Bobbin' your tail 2 another one of Prince' jams,” he sings.
Even though Prince refers to himself in the third person, they very fact he vocalizes his birth name here is significant. High was earmarked to be the first album released under his name as the “Love Symbol” era, drew to a close. On May 16, 2000, Prince announced “I will now go back to using my name instead of the symbol I adopted as a means to free myself from undesirable relationships.”
According to PrinceVault, the album High was unveiled in a post on NPGOnlineLTD.com on August 8, 2000: “The announcement said that engineer Femi Jiya had delivered ‘a rough copy of another new album at the gate of Prince's estate.’" Soon after, Prince started working on The Rainbow Children album as a celebration of his conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness faith. The Rainbow Children would be released in 2001. High - or more accurately, the album's songs - would linger in the vaults for three more years.
“High” and five other tracks from the proposed High album wound up on Prince’s 29th album, The Chocolate Invasion; two others wound up on his 30th album, The Slaughterhouse, which was released the same day - both in digital-only formats. The final two songs, “When Will We B Paid?” and “U Make My Sun Shine” were released as a double-sided CD single; the latter featured a duet with Angie Stone.
Both albums were respectively subtitled “Trax from the NPG Music Club Volume One and Two." In Mobeen Azhar’s book, Prince Chapter and Verse: A Life in Photographs, Prince’s longtime graphic designer and web developer, Sam Jennings, explains the development of the two-album venture, “The NPG Music Club was a success, I got progressively more involved, not just in the technical stuff but the artwork too. I decided the running order for the tracks on The Chocolate Invasion and Slaughterhouse compilations. I sat with the engineer and structured them. Prince gave me an executive producer credit.”
NPG Music Club was just one of many pioneering ways Prince innovated to connect his music directly with the masses. In the song, he sings of his mission, “We got the music get U high again / We got the beat make U act like a hooligan / We got the rhyme make U tell a friend / Prince gon' get U high.” Both albums are currently available on Tidal to stream or download in MP3 or lossless FLAC formats.