Prince’s Welcome 2 America arrives 11 years after it was recorded and five years after his passing. The project is reflection of all the things he saw around him in the country that needed to change. Those musings included the absence of Black history, the prevalance of cheap fame from sextapes and the issue of Black empowerment overall. He did not release the music at the time because he believed the public was not ready for it. The release of Welcome 2 America today could not have happened at a better time as the United States is experiencing the ‘woke era.’ Black Lives Matters and the Me Too Movement have become mainstream words and now with the changes in the labor movement thanks to COVID-19 the album sounds futuristic. Prince did go on a Welcome 2 tour in 2010 that started at the Apollo Theater and was joined onstage by Janelle Monáe, Questlove, Misty Copland and more. Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings were some of the acts that opened for him.
The music has a core of protest but there is more hope in the lyrics than anger. Prince’s observations come across more as weary matter-of-fact lamentations than fiery finger-pointing. Welcome 2 America is the most political album Prince ever recorded and despite its creation more than a decade ago its release in 2021 is timely.