In Graffiti Bridge, Prince dazzled in a number of guises, the titillating ruffles, the belted blazers and the flaring pants, topped off only by the countless hats Prince dons in the film as the star, the director, the writer and music mastermind.
Such are the endeavors of a virtuoso left uninhibited and for the visionary who held the world’s attention in the palm of his gloved leather hands, the informal sequel to Purple Rain, Graffiti Bridge, was released 29 years ago today, with all the musical markings of a funkadelic experimentalist gone freaky.
Prince refreshed his outfits with the same outrageous and urgent sense of versatility that he applied to his music-making. He was no genius in hiding; rather, Prince put his sonic outlook in the world with one sole stickler of a trademark: non-binary. The explosion of a soundtrack came with no warning, save for the “techno-thunderclap,” detonating in the first song, “Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got,” inciting the start of a musical trek designed by fearless exploration.
There were 16 tracks total that built a mounting staircase of surprises and yet just six tracks in, Prince achieved a breadth of manifold of deep cuts, embedded with feisty hand claps, seductive whispers, and brass woos, that would delight any cratedigger.
Opener "Can’t Stop,” a flourished funk-rock power punch, was emboldened by a fierce keyboard frenzy, setting the scene for the “New Power Generation,” an anthemic combination of upbeat and uptempo energy, a referential nod to Prince’s new band; “The Question of U,” offset its screaming whistle entrance by easing into a sultry, laidback R&B number that sounds as spiritual as it does romantic. By the time one of the film’s final tracks, “Still Would Stand All Time,” came around, it was abundantly clear that Prince pursued a stylistic duality to all his productions, resulting in a multi-spatial, cultural and sensual dynamic.
In confession, the soundtrack accompanying "Graffiti Bridge" was as scattered as it was calculated, a testament to Prince's preference for a promiscuous musical climate, rather than a stagnant end-zone. To this day, a conscious digestion of the artist’s creations necessitates a meditation both carnal and spiritual, a conquest conceived by a soul living outside the flow of the mainstream and intended similarly.