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Rare Prince B-Side 'United States of Division' Released to Streaming Platforms

The song was a rarity from Prince's 'Musicology' era.

Source: James/Mirrorpix/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Prince's 'Musicology' turns 20 this year.

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For the 20th anniversary of Prince's Musicology, the late star's estate has releasing "United States of Division," a virtual B-side that was previously only available as an mp3 download from Prince's NPG Music Club. Listen to the song below.

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Source: ℗ © NPG Music Club/Prince/YouTube

Prince - United States Of Division (Official Audio)

Always the outlier, Prince included the album for concertgoers as part of their ticket price to his North American Musicology Live 2004ever Tour, which was released on March 29, 2004. The album was favorably received at the time (with Q giving it 4 stars) as a return to form of his R&B funk roots, and it went on to win two Grammy awards for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.

However, "United States of Division" was not included on Musicology, and instead was available as an mp3 download on July 4, 2004 courtesy of Prince's own NPG Music portal. It was later included in the multiple song B-side for the CD single "Cinnamon Girl," though only for the UK market, releasing in September of that year.

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Source: Mike Maloney/Mirrorpix/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Prince during his reign with 'Purple Rain,' 1984.

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The streaming version, which is slightly different from the 2004 release, is a six-minute jam incorporating plenty of funk-soul backbeats and a chewy horn section. The lyrics, combining social commentary and political issues, are still eerily relevant, despite the era's timeframe – George W. Bush was in office, the U.S. was still involved in a conflict with Iraq, post 9/11 – and for Prince especially, a reminder of how many of that era's injustices remain in place for the disenfranchised and disconnected citizens across the country.

The lyrics include the lines: "How far from heaven must we go? / Before the winds of change will blow and show / This world how it's supposed to be / Land of peace and harmony.”

The album has been acknowledged as one of Prince's best late-career albums. Musicology's packaging with a tour ticket was considered slightly confusing and off-beat (remember, folks this was 20 years ago) for the music industry to calculate, but is of course now, one of the unexplained genius moves that only Prince could have foreshadowed back then.

Source: © Northstar Group, Primary Wave Music/Estate of Prince

Artwork representing the original 2004 mp3 download.

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Musicology, Prince's 28th studio album, is set to have its 20th anniversary commemorated with a re-release on April 20. It will be available as a CD and 2LP purple-colored vinyl. Merchandise including a hoodie and T-shirts are also for sale at his official website.

And with the 40th anniversary approaching for Purple Rain, plans are underway for a Broadway musical adaptation featuring songs from the iconic film. The musical is set to have a book written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, with Lileana Blain-Cruz on tap to direct.


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