A challenge and Curtis Mayfield inspired Prince's new single 'Born 2 Die'
Whether it was basketball, Ping-Pong or music, Prince was intensely competitive. So, when outspoken social critic and activist Cornel West said in a speech that “I love my brother Prince, but he’s no Curtis Mayfield,” Prince took that as a challenge.
At least that’s the story behind Prince’s new single, “Born 2 Die,” according to Morris Hayes, longtime Prince keyboardist and co-producer of “Welcome 2 America,” a posthumous album due July 30.
Perhaps inspired by Mayfield’s epic soundtrack for 1972’s Gordon Parks-directed “Super Fly,” “Born 2 Die” tells the story of a woman hustler on the mean streets. Like the protagonist in Mayfield’s “Super Fly” hit “Freddie’s Dead,” Prince’s smooth criminal also dies.
The breezy verses of “Born 2 Die” showcase Prince’s familiar falsetto, though Mayfield was known for his falsetto, as well. The choruses certainly have a Mayfield vibe, and the tune features a prolonged orchestral bridge with a cinematic feel.
“Born 2 Die” was recorded March 12, 2010, at Paisley Park, the same day Prince cut two other songs for “Welcome 2 America,” “When She Comes” and “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master).”
“Born 2 Die” is the second single released from “Welcome 2 America,” a completed 2010 album that Prince shelved for reasons he never explained. The title track was the initial single. The new song features drummer Chris Coleman, bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and singers Liv Warfield, Shelby J and Elisa Fiorillo.
“Welcome 2 America” includes 11 Prince originals and a cover of Soul Asylum’s “Stand Up and B Strong.”