Everybody who treasured Prince's run of perfect albums in the 1980s knew that he'd have a hard time topping that decade's output-and that group included the artist himself. On "Don't Play Me," a song from the mostly-acoustic 1997 album The Truth, he casually included the line "my only competition is, well, me in the past," making it part of his newly independent, post-corporate blues.
Being a Prince fanatic requires some kind of attitude about the music that comes after his golden era: You can reject it outright, defend it all, or land somewhere in between. But we all know the story didn't stop in 1993. The profusion of post-name change, seemingly-throwaway mid-'90s records on Warner Bros. that "The Artist" used to get out of his contract all contain gems and head-scratchers-and when he started his own NPG Records, he seemingly ramped up the production schedule for both types of recordings.