As prolific and innovative an artist Prince Rogers Nelson (Best known by his eponymous stage name Prince) was in his lifetime, he was also notorious for refusing to play nicely with his record label. Especially Warner Brothers Records, his longtime label since his debut. Tensions between the pop singer/songwriter came to a head during the 90s, when after a series of slights related to rights issues and album releases, Prince went to great lengths to attempt to get out of his contract with the major label.
He went about this by releasing collections of unreleased material and B-sides under the Prince moniker, while recording new songs as the unpronounceable “Love Symbol”, which would often be simplified to “The Artist (Formerly Known As Prince)” in the media. These songs in turn would be released on NPG Records, an independent label formed after the shuttering of Paisley Park Records by Warner Brothers, and would release the rest of Prince’s new material up to his passing in 2016.
One of NPG Records’ first releases was a compilation showcasing things to come from the upstart imprint, titled 1-800-NEW-FUNK. In addition to new material from Prince, it featured new and unreleased tracks from funk/soul veterans like George Clinton and Mavis Staples, as well as up-and-comers like Mayte Garcia and Nona Gaye, as well as tracks from Prince side-projects like Madhouse, and his backing band The New Power Generation. While the compilation was not a major commercial success on par with Prince’s solo works, the album has over time become a must-have for record collectors, and is an indelible part of any Prince completist’s catalogue.