The Artist Raves About His ’Joy Fantastic’

Larry Flick

This week, the Artist Formerly Known As Prince is doing something he says he didn’t anticipate doing ever again: releasing an album through a major label. “Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic” is out on the Artist’s NPG Records label and licensed to Arista.

The deal, he says, “allows me to own my art. The problems I had with so-called majors [in the past] were regarding ownership and long-term contracts ... When I met with [Arista president/CEO] Clive Davis, it was clear from the start that he ’got it.’ After years of feeling enslaved by the industry, I feel positive. This is a situation in which no one is disempowered.”

The new deal follows the Artist’s much-publicized departure in 1996 from longtime home Warner Bros., a relationship that prompted him to appear in public with the word “slave” written on his face.

But those troubles are behind him, the Artist says. “This album is an expression of many emotions, but it mostly comes from a place of pure joy and happiness.”

“Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic” has all the energy of a live show; many of the songs sport lean, pop-smart arrangements that blend elements of classic funk and rock. The Artist, who produced the set under his old name Prince, is joined by a wide range of guests, including Sheryl Crow, No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, jazz great Maceo Parker, R&B veteran Larry Graham, rising rapper Eve, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D.

The Artist plans to hit the road in early 2000. He’s also eyeing the possibility of doing a televised concert on New Year’s Eve, likely in his hometown of Minneapolis.