Prince Heats Things Up in ‘Martika’s Kitchen’
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.
While rumors swirl about the prospect of “mind-blowing” unreleased Prince gems to be released later this year, the first big gift from the vaults just made its way to stores in the form of Martika’s Kitchen: Reheated Edition. This two-CD set is from Cherry Pop, the Cherry Red Records imprint that also delivered gem-packed expanded editions of Wendy & Lisa’s first three albums. The title track is one of Prince’s most interesting collaborations with the actress turned pop star who had previously hit the big time with “Toy Soldiers."
The opening verse starts in third person before switching to first, “Come on, get some / In Martika’s Kitchen babe / U bring the noise / I’ll bring the smile.” It sounds strange at first coming from Martika’s mouth, but it sounds much more normal in the Prince-sung guide vocal that circulates on the bootleg circuit. Martika was very much a teen star when she rode to the top of the charts in 1989, but by 1991 she was in her early 20s. The song, in many ways, is her re-introduction as an adult: “The table is set, the oven is hot babe / When we get started we won’t ever stop.”
In the booklet for the reissue, Martika reveals, “I remember sitting in Prince’s office for our first meeting. He said, ‘Welcome to Paisley Park. I wrote this last night, knowing you were on your way,’ and handed me a sheet of paper with the handwritten lyrics of ‘Martika’s Kitchen’ on it. I was excited to have my very own, Prince-penned theme song, filled with sexy personality, and so much playfulness. I got a real kick out of the old-style, double-entendre lyrics.”
At the time of their collaboration in 1991, Prince was also working with the likes of El Debarge, Mica Paris and Ingrid Chavez. Matt Thorne, author of Prince: The Man and His Music, notes, “His collaboration with Martika is more substantial, and seems evidence of a shared outlook.” "I definitely felt the pressure of high expectations," Martika said, "It was important to me that I stretch out and show some growth in my musical expression."
Martika's Kitchen: Reheated Edition comes packed with out-of-print and hard-to-find gems for the Prince collector. Prince collaborations “Martika’s Kitchen” and “Spirit” each receive three new versions; the biggest hit off the album, “Love, Thy Will Be Done,” gets an official "Prince Mix" and a radio edit. A fourth collaboration, "Don't Say U Love Me," appears on the first disc. At the time of the original release, Prince’s other contributions to the album were provided under the name “Paisley Park." New Power Generation rapper, Tony M, contributes an 80’s hip hop style rap (more Fresh Prince, less N.W.A.) to the “Martika’s Kitchen” remixes.
According to PrinceVault, the music bed for “Martika’s Kitchen” wound up in two additional unreleased Prince songs, “Work That Fat” and “Boom Box." The former is a much less successful take on the "loving all body shapes" concept that pre-dates Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” by a year; the latter is a Madhouse-style jam that includes Martika saying “Boom Box” in a lyrical hook lifted from the “Martika’s Kitchen” verse "boom box kickin’ out the latest jam." A fifth collaboration between Prince and Martika, "Open Book," was later released by Jevetta Steele.