Not merely a genius musician, Prince was a hugely gifted and evocative lyricist, able in the space of one album to oscillate from the vulgar to the sublime, the political to the playful. He credited Joni Mitchell, a major influence, with teaching him how to incorporate colors in his lyrics — so it’s the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer to whom we can credit “Purple Rain.”
Along the way, he developed his own Princely language. Symbols, like a drawing of an eye, appeared in place of “I.” You was invariably spelled as “U.” And what of those alien words — some portmanteaus, some acronyms, some seemingly gibberish — that appear throughout his oeuvre? Here are 3 of them.
Shockadelica is a mythical female witch figure who appears in Sign o’ the Times, embodied onstage by onetime Prince protege Cat. She is depicted in the “U Got the Look” music video as a jealous she-devil who snatches Prince away from Sheena Easton.
A term coined for Prince’s never-released (but much-bootlegged) The Black Album, it’s meant to conjure a heightened state of funky-lusty consciousness, likely achieved through the imbibing of … squirrel blood? That’s how the lyrics go, at least: “The blood is real good if u drink it real fast.”
Prince’s 10th studio album, whose cover depicts him perching naked on a bed of giant orchids, was a direct artistic response to his previous effort, The Black Album, which was withdrawn at the last minute after being deemed too dark. The gospel-inflected 1988 album reflected Prince’s newfound spirituality, love, joy and optimism, a feeling encapsulated by its title: Lovesexy.