Prince Heats Things Up in ‘Martika’s Kitchen’
In 1991, Prince wrote four songs for actress-turned-pop-singer Martika's second record, Martika's Kitchen. Martika had broken through two years earlier with her chart-topper "Toy Soldiers."
The opening verse starts in third person before switching to first, “Come on, get some / In Martika’s kitchen babe / U bring the noise / I’ll bring the smile.” It sounds strange at first coming from Martika’s mouth, but it sounds much more normal in the Prince-sung guide vocal that circulates on the bootleg circuit. Martika was very much a teen star when she rode to the top of the charts in 1989, but by 1991 she was in her early 20s. The song, in many ways, is her re-introduction as an adult: “The table is set, the oven is hot babe / When we get started we won’t ever stop.”
In the booklet for the 2018 reissue, Martika reveals, “I remember sitting in Prince’s office for our first meeting. He said, ‘Welcome to Paisley Park. I wrote this last night, knowing you were on your way,’ and handed me a sheet of paper with the handwritten lyrics of ‘Martika’s Kitchen’ on it. I was excited to have my very own, Prince-penned theme song, filled with sexy personality, and so much playfulness. I got a real kick out of the old-style, double-entendre lyrics.”
At the time of their collaboration in 1991, Prince was also working with the likes of El Debarge, Mica Paris and Ingrid Chavez. Matt Thorne, author of Prince: The Man and His Music, notes, “His collaboration with Martika is more substantial, and seems evidence of a shared outlook.” "I definitely felt the pressure of high expectations," Martika said, "It was important to me that I stretch out and show some growth in my musical expression."
According to PrinceVault, the music bed for “Martika’s Kitchen” wound up in two additional unreleased Prince songs, “Work That Fat” and “Boom Box." The former is a much less successful take on the "loving all body shapes" concept that pre-dates Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” by a year; the latter is a Madhouse-style jam that includes Martika saying “Boom Box” in a lyrical hook lifted from the “Martika’s Kitchen” verse "boom box kickin’ out the latest jam." A fifth collaboration between Prince and Martika, "Open Book," was later released by Jevetta Steele.