A few weeks ago, I made a playlist for work consisting of great funk music, such as Maceo Parker’s “Funk Overload,” Judith Hill’s “Back In Time,” and a mix of other tracks by James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, and Graham Central Station, just to name a few. After I made it once through the 8 hour playlist, I was craving a Prince album that I could listen to all the way through that had this old school funk sound. A few days later, he released HitNRun Phase Two. “Look At Me, Look At U” was the track that I had been waiting for. It hits me in all the right ways and takes me on a journey through recollections of other great songs every time I hear it.
The first song it reminds me of is “She Spoke to Me” from The Vault – Old Friends 4 Sale. The sheer infatuation Prince emits in both songs has always made me feel more connected to him. It’s the age old story of falling in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist. In “She Spoke to Me,” the line that always gets me is when he says, “Like the track under a subway train, she can roll all over me, and I’d still be the same ’cause today is the day she spoke to me.” This notion of being willing to go through so much turmoil just to be with the one person who truly satisfies you is increasingly apparent on this new track as well.
A dozen fantasies; call me one and done when you look at me.
The next track this song reminds me of is “Muse 2 the Pharaoh” from The Rainbow Children. My favorite Prince line of all time is “the opposite of NATO is OTAN.” I am always intrigued by Egyptian history. A lot of people brush this off as a meaningless line, but I find so much substance in it. Prince is describing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the contrast of the first monotheistic god in Egyptian history, Aten or Otan, who was first worshiped by King Akhenaten. This level of intellect in a song is one of the many reasons I am drawn to Prince’s music. In “Look At Me/U,” the fact that he’s comparing his love interest to Queen Nefertiti or Queen Dido (from Greek history) is a compliment that I can only dream of receiving.
I ask myself this question, but it’s still a mystery. How am I gonna keep my balance when you look at me? How can you not know? Standing over there like Nefertiti or the queen, Dido.
The third song I draw parallels to is “Incense and Candles” from 3121. When Prince raps “we gotta praise the one who made ya; give props to your mama for the healthy food she must’ve gave ya,” he shows his respect to the woman’s mother who brought such a beautiful being into existence. The gift of life is something that Prince has always cherished and frequently pauses to pay homage to.
Modesty aside, whoever made you should be praised. Ain’t no need to hide; every glass should be raised.
Prince’s vocal harmonies on this track are at a level of genius that other artists can set their sights for but will never achieve. They create a warm barrier around me no matter where I am. The way his vocals carefully hand me over to Marcus Anderson’s tenor sax solo at the end of the track makes me feel like I have nothing else to worry about for the rest of my life.