“Diamonds & Pearls” by Prince & The New Power Generation (1991)

A few stray thoughts about this song…

*I bought albums on cassette almost exclusively until the mid ‘90s. And until I started working retail in 1993, I wasn’t able to afford cassettes (at least at the rate I consumed music) so I was a certified bootleg patron. Back in the day, there used to be African or Jamaican dudes all up on Fulton Street (close to my school) or Utica Avenue (close to my home) in Brooklyn. They’d have dubs of all the latest hip-hop, R&B, reggae and soca albums, complete with badly photocopied artwork. They were usually $4 or three for $10. Diamonds And Pearls was one of those $4 tapes. Come to think of it, so was Graffiti Bridge. And the symbol album.

*As one might expect for mass-produced dubs, the sound wasn’t always tight on these tapes. I remember Diamonds & Pearls having a really severe high end that caused distortion on just about every track. But…hey, I was a teenager. What did I care about sound fidelity?

*The Diamonds & Pearls album found Prince attempting to keep up with the times by adding a more pronounced new jack swing/hip-hop element to his music. It was only successful on occasion. Thankfully, “Diamonds & Pearls” was nothing but a stately, elegant ballad. Wisely, Prince gave the spotlight to secondary vocalist/keyboardist Rosie Gaines on this one. Her support vocals take this song to another level. Too bad Rosie only stuck around for one album. She was the key addition to the New Power Generation, for sure. If you’re waiting for me to say something good about Tony M, you’re gonna be waiting a long, long time.

*The “Diamonds” video was a staple on BET. I haven’t watched it in a few years, but I remember that Prince does some awesome ballet-esque moves on top of a piano. And I remember my aunt bitching about it. We were watching videos one night, this came on, and after Prince sang the line about a light that shined so much it’d make you color blind, my aunt piped up with “If Prince was color blind, he’d put some dark-skinned girls in his videos.” Well, then.

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