When the Artist drops his next album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic this fall, expect it to make some major noise. It was announced this morning that the notoriously independent artist has licensed the album to Arista Records for release in America (Arista's BMG will release the album worldwide).| The album, which is set for release on Nov. 2, will still bear the Artist's NPG Records logo and all masters, naturally, will remain his own.
"I believe I had 2 get out of the recording industry 4 a while so that I could reclaim my artistry and become empowered by it again," the Artist said in a statement. "The problems I had with so-called majors were regarding ownership and long-term contracts. Both of these problems r non-existent in my agreement with Arista. Things seem 2 work best when all parties agree, and we do!"
After his much-publicized "freedom" from his Warner Bros. contract in 1995, the Artist struck a one-time licensing deal with EMI for his 1996 triple CD release, Emancipation. Last year's Crystal Ball and New Power Soul were both released independently on NPG. But according to the Artist's spokesperson, Lois Najarian, the deal with Arista could possibly extend beyond the Rave album.
"He has an agreement that he's really happy with it, and there's no reason not to believe that they won't do another one together," said Najarian. "Both parties would like to continue the relationship, for sure." Regardless, she says the Artist will continue to release albums independently through NPG. As proof, 100,000 copies of Rave with different remixes will be released via the Artist's 1-800-Newfunk.com early next year.
According to Najarian, the Artist is still working around the clock to finish Rave. "Chuck D was at Paisley Park this week, and he just finished up something with him. And he's doing some stuff with [saxophonist] Maceo Parker." Other guests on the album include No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Ani DiFranco and Sheryl Crow, whom the Artist joined on stage Sunday in Toronto for a Lilith Fair performance of "Every Day Is a Winding Road." Rumor has it that a version of that song with Crow may make the final cut for Rave. A final track listing has yet to be decided on, but the first single, "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold," has been scheduled for late September.
Meanwhile, the revelation of the album's producer as none other than one "Prince" suggests a decidedly purple tone. It's the first time the Artist has alluded to his name on an album since legally changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993.
"Where his mind is at right now is really in his very popular, Princely days, with the multi-platinum records and everything that comes along with being Prince," says Najarian.