Prince Rescues ‘Ripopgodazippa’ From a Notoriously Bad Film: 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.
"Ripopgodazippa" is one of those rare Prince songs where it’s better to feel the lyrics instead of listen to them. Over a smooth reggae bass groove slinked up with horns, sax and flute on the chorus courtesy of the Hornheadz, Prince appears to be singing much of the track in a phonetically percussive, nonsensical scat style. If you tune out and focus on the rhythm,"Ripopgodazippa" is one of the '90s most rewarding Prince songs.
If you dare pay closer attention, “Ripopgodazippa” takes an interesting trip. On much of the track, Prince affects a Jamaican accent while describing a sexy but potentially deadly sexual encounter, “Start down at da bass then stop at da treble / Circle da midrange and up go me levels.”
The title appears to be a creative take on “rip, pop, goes the zipper” for peeling off clothes and getting busy with a lover -- always a favorite topic for Prince. This particular encounter takes place in the Paisley Park gym, “Dis bench dat I normally use 4 da weights / My girl, she lay me down and try my soul 2 take.”
The next section of the song expands upon the devil theme that Prince sang about a few years prior in “Dance With the Devil”. Whereas “Dance” was pulled from the Batman soundtrack for being too dark, this song goes a bit darker. He sings, “A devil dis night she was b4 as I'm layin' there”, before revealing, “My heart stop beating and I died dis way.”
“Ripopgodazippa” made it into movie theaters nationwide when Paul Verhoeven used it in his widely despised classic, Showgirls. “319” also appeared in the film though neither song made the soundtrack CD.
According to PrinceVault, “Ripopgodazippa” and “319” were recorded in October 1993 at Paisley Park; both were intended for The Gold Experience album, but only the latter made the final cut. “Ripopgodazippa” wound up on Disc 1 of the Crystal Ball four- and five-CD sets that were formally released in 1998, three years after its cinematic debut.
Mayte Garcia, Prince’s future wife, duets on the track. "I just wanna call ur name, but I don't know what 2 say,” she sings while addressing the fact that at this place in their relationship Prince had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. Prince replies, “If U're always with me / U'll never have 2 call me.” After that, they coo “Touché” to each other, but in real life, the logistics of living with a man without a pronounceable name was a bit more complicated.
“We never had any pet names, and I don’t think in the whole time we were together I called him anything, which I guess is a bit weird,” Garcia once told the Mirror. “I never called him Prince because I wanted him to be a person to me, not the man behind Purple Rain. Plus, technically, I was married to the Symbol. Our house was full of them, but I just couldn’t say the word. When we got married it was much easier. If someone else was there I could say, ‘Could I speak to my husband please?’ ”
Later in the interview, Garcia reveals it was unlikely she and Prince ever went to see "Ripopgodazippa"’s big moment in Showgirls together, “He’s not really a cinema kinda guy,” she said.