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HITnRUN Phase Two is the final studio album to be released by Prince, arriving just a few months after the release of HITnRUN Phase One. Both albums were released exclusively on the streaming service Tidal, with broader distribution following shortly afterward; HITnRUN Phase Two was made available on Tidal on December 12, 2015, on iTunes a few days later, and was first released on CD at the January 21, 2016 “Piano and a Microphone Gala Event” at Paisley Park.
Phase Two, with its brassy, buoyant arrangements and cheeky lyrics, embodies the artist in his natural state as a soul-funk master.”
Kory Grow, Rolling Stone
Unlike Phase One, which consisted of new material that was recorded in the months prior to its release, HITnRUN Phase Two included several previously released tracks, some of which had been recorded much earlier than 2015. “BLACK MUSE,” for example, was initially tracked at Paisley Park in 2010, and “XTRALOVEABLE” was first released as a single in 2011.
Regardless, the album emerged at a heated cultural moment and was deeply rooted in the pressing social issues of the time. HITnRUN Phase 2 was released just days before a Baltimore judge declared a mistrial in the case of William Porter, an officer who had been charged in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. It was an incident that Prince addressed in moving detail in the album’s opening track, “Baltimore,” which had been released earlier that year as a single, and his lyrics resonated even more deeply the week of Phase 2’s release. “Does anybody hear us pray / For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray?” Prince sang, concluding that, “Peace is more than the absence of war.”
Overall, it’s an unexpected triumph: bright, sexy, smart and full of life, HITnRUN Phase Two is like the blind date from heaven.”
Andy Gill, The Independent, 2015
Other singles from the album took a more lighthearted approach. “Screwdriver,” which was first released in 2013, captured Prince in an especially playful mood, while the standout track “Stare” endures as one of the most memorable funk-pop songs of his later career. (For a time, “Stare” was also the only Prince track that was available on Spotify.) Despite the unconventional approach to the release, HITnRUN Phase Two debuted at number 23 on the Top R&B Albums chart, and ultimately peaked at number 3 on the chart on May 21, 2016, a month after Prince’s untimely passing.
HITnRUN Phase Two Album Credits
Prince vocals and various instruments Ida Nielsen bass Andre Gouché bass John Blackwell drums Michael Bland drums Justin Stanley keyboards Cassandra O’Neal keyboards Xavier Taplin keyboards Shelby J. backing vocals Elisa Dease backing vocals Liv Warfield backing vocals Andy Allo backing vocals Eryn Allen Kane backing vocals Ledisi backing vocals The Hornheads (Michael B. Nelson, Steve Strand, Dave Jensen, Kathy Jensen, Kenni Holmen) horns The NPG Hornz (Marcus Anderson, Keith Anderson, Lynn Grissett, Joey Rayfield, Adrian Crutchfield, BK Jackson, Sylvester Onyejiaka, Steve Reid, Phil Lassiter, Nick Marchione, Roy Agee) horns Stringenius strings