‘Extraloveable’ Becomes Extra Lovable the Second Time Around
The eternal debate between Prince fans as to whether the contents of his vault should be released started long before he passed. To the chagrin of the “against” camp, the estate has seemingly made it clear with the recent Purple Rain reissue, and the 4Ever collection before it, that they fully intend on mining the material.
However, it could be argued that they are merely following the path Prince was already on. Prior to his death, he had started to unveil some of his long-hidden treasures, including an update to "Extraloveable" that he released in 2011.
The original tracking for this coveted track took place at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, on April 3, 1982, with additional work possibly being done in 1983, according to Prince Vault. The track is rumored to have been considered for inclusion on Vanity 6’s debut record, though given the specific shout outs to members of The Revolution (and the subtle dig at Dez Dickerson) this seems unlikely.
"Extraloveable" — the ‘82 version, or the ‘11 version — is an undeniable banger. That the 29-year-old song didn’t sound the least bit dated three decades later is a testament to the impact that Prince had on pop songcraft. The otherwise straightforward beat is super-powered by a bouncing, melodic drum machine pattern that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bruno Mars record. The long and short of it is this: It gets butts wiggling.
Then there is the whole matter of the original lyrics. By this point in his career Prince had more than asserted his willingness to push the sexual envelope, but in nearly all instances (save for, perhaps, “Bambi”) Prince was playing the submissive — think about it, it’s “Do Me, Baby,” not “I’m Gonna Do You, Baby.” This is not the case here, where we find Prince rapping to the object of his affection with some outrageous lines. Case in point, in the second verse he sings, “Baby, U could turn my mama on / She's just as straight, just as straight as straight can be / Even though my daddy's gone / Come back just 2 haunt U, come back just 2 haunt U mystically.” It only gets stranger, and darker, from there; working up to the line, “I’m on the verge of rape.”
Wait — what? It’s a jarring line as it comes after lyrics that seemingly name Prince as the antagonist in question (the call-outs to the Revolution, the line “I'm not that popular yet, so if U want, I'm yours”). It’s almost as if he had to excise the extreme opposite of his persona in song to keep balance. Needless to say, the song was tossed into the vault along with the equally sadistic “4 The Lust of It” for reworking another day.
Nearly 30 years later it was announced that the song had been resurrected and would be released to celebrate his Welcome 2 Canada tour. A digital single soon followed, featuring a much pared down, and significantly lighter, set of lyrics with a disposable “rap” from his protege of the moment, Andy Allo. He even cheekily updated some of the lines: “Might be kinda popular, but if you want, I'm yours.” Gone were the aggressive overtures and wacky lines about his parents, and in its place were lyrics more in line with his beliefs. Two years later he revisited the tune again, updating it with the New Power Generation Horns (and omitting Ms. Allo), calling it “Extraloveable Reloaded.” His final release Hitnrun Phase Two featured the “Reloaded” version of the song, this time retitled to “XTRALOVEABLE.”
At the time of his death Prince was clearly pulling material from the vault to be reworked, but recent court documents indicate that the material stored beneath Paisley Park suffered from “water damage, mold, and degradation.” Maybe the fates are sealed, and the “leave-it-in-the-vault crowd” will get their wish. As unlikely as that seems, it's hard to imagine that the family would release something like the original version of "Extraloveable" as it originally existed.