Randi Hernandez
Posted by

Journey Into Sound: The Minneapolis Sound


The Minneapolis Sound

We all know that Prince is responsible for creating an outrageous music legacy for himself. By producing, arranging, and composing the majority of his own songs throughout his career (a right he secured and negotiated through the terms of a deal with Warner Brothers at age 17), Prince managed to release songs and albums that were truly reflective of the artist he desired to be. What few people realize is that besides ensuring creative control of his own recordings, “Prince also insisted on a clause in his major-label contract that would enable him to recruit and produce other artists for the label.” (http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/94060-the-minneapolis-sound/). Prince essentially became an artist, producer, and A&R representative all at once. As a result, elements of Prince’s act (his sound and his look) always seemed to be transferred to the artists with which he worked. Prince was responsible for sparking a sonic movement in the late 70’s – The Minneapolis Sound – and it was characterized by the successful mixture of new technologies with the more familiar elements of the funk, rock, New Wave, and pop genres.

The Minneapolis Sound

What did Prince do that was so groundbreaking? Most notably, Prince took advantage of the new technology that was available and recorded each part of the song (and each instrument) himself for each track. Synths replaced horn sections, and the bass lines in his tunes were not as heavy as they traditionally are in funk songs.

The Minneapolis Sound

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

Prince pioneered this type of sped-up, manufactured rhythm (often made with the Roland TR-808 drum machine); these songs also typically had some type of rock-guitar solo during the bridge. That was “The Prince” type of song, and he wrote variations of this formula for artists such as Cherrelle, Vanity 6 (6 referring to the number of breasts there were in the group, i.e., two for each woman), The Time, Sheila E., Andre Cymone, and others (http://www.allmusic.com/explore/essay/the-minneapolis-sound-t2161).

The Minneapolis Sound

One of the first groups Prince helped establish was The Time with his high school buddy Morris Day. The story goes that Prince made Morris the lead singer of The Time because Morris had previously written a song for Prince, “Partyup”, that appeared on Prince’s album Dirty Mind (http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/94060-the-minneapolis-sound/). Although Prince wrote most of the songs for The Time over the course of a few albums, it is important to note that Morris Day wrote “777-9311” – which ended up being one of the group’s first hit singles (and is also the song sampled on Tupac’s “What’s Ya Phone Number”).

The Minneapolis Sound

And then there was Purple Rain, which propelled The Minneapolis Sound even further into popularity. Groups that were not even from Minneapolis, like Ready For The World and The Jets, started borrowing a little bit of Minnesota for their singles. After Prince fired Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis from The Time, the duo took the synth sound to a little gal named Janet – Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty – and the rest is history. Janet did quite a few songs in the Minneapolis style; you can even hear J.J. scream “Minneapolis!” during the bridge of her song “Escapade”.

Janet Jackson's Control, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

Janet Jackson's Control, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

Check out some of the hits made in the style of The Minneapolis Sound and see if you can hear the similarities between the tracks. You certainly cannot miss the physical similarities of the artists Prince worked with…. For he made them in his image.

Layout: Felicia

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Similar Posts:

5 Responses to “Journey Into Sound: The Minneapolis Sound”

  1. artiffact artiffact says:

    Prince is in town next week and I would love to see him LIVE!!!

  2. C_Rocka C-Rocka says:

    This post makes me proud! I love how Prince along with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis created the Minneapolis sound and help put our city on the map.

    Janet Jackson had some crazy stories about when she was up here recording her first album and at one point owned a house on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

  3. Valerie Valerie says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I had The Jets’ song “You Got It All” stuck in my head for some crazy reason. I wasn’t satisfied until I found the album and played it like 5 times. 80s teen pop at its finest!

  4. I am really curious to find out what the relationship between Prince and Morris Day really was….they started as friends, but played enemies throughout their careers. If you can catch it, the Soul Train episode featuring The Time is hilarious – Don C. and Morris have the most awkward interview.

  5. Miss.Summer Miss.Summer says:

    @ Randi Prince and Morris Day are rumored to be cousins although who knows if its true! I LOVE THIS POST. I’ve been obsessed with Prince and his protege’s since I was 5 years old! A friend of mine got a chance to dj at First Avenue, on the same stage where the Revolution played in Purple Rain. He said it was one of the best experiences of his life.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Facebook Twitter Flickr Flickr