|Hitnrun Phase One (stylized as HITnRUN Phase One, and commonly known as Hitnrun) is the 38th full-length studio album by Prince.
It was initially announced as an exclusive on the Tidal streaming platform where it was made available starting on 7 September 2015, before the album was released on CD and download the following week as an intended surprise release not listed on retailers listings ahead of time, and released on a Monday, instead of the industry-standard Friday release day (word, however, leaked out in early September, when the CD appeared on Amazon.fr).
The album title suggests a connection with Prince’s various "hit n' run" one-off shows - a term he has used since the Spring 1986 series of short-notice shows prior to the Parade Tour - this is a studio album recorded and produced in similar fashion to his other recent work, however.
The tracks themselves were recorded over an extensive period of time, so the title does not refer to a quick recording process either.
Having been announced before its release, the title also doesn’t reflect the album’s release strategy, although as noted above, the album was initially announced as a Tidal exclusive before a surprise CD and download release the following week. With very little in the way of promotion, "hit n' run" summarizes the wider release of the album.
Sessions and compiling
Much of the album is believed to have been recorded in early-to-mid 2015 at Paisley Park Studios, Chanhassen, MN, USA. Some tracks were recorded earlier, however.
1000 X’s & O’s was originally recorded as A 1,000 Hugs And Kisses in late April or early May 1992 at Studios 301, Sydney, Australia, with Rosie Gaines on lead vocals (during the same set of sessions as Goldnigga, Deuce & A Quarter, Goldie’s Parade, Everybody Get On Up and Baby Doll).
In late 1993 or early 1994 Rosie Gaines' vocals were replaced by Nona Gaye at Paisley Park Studios, Chanhassen, MN, USA, and her version was intended for a planned project titled MPLS, but this project remained unfinished. Around the same time, however, it was considered for inclusion on a proposed album by Nona Gaye, but this was also left unfinished.
The version included here is thought to be a new recording from Autumn 2014, however.
Fallinlove2nite was recorded in late 2013 for Prince’s appearance on the TV series New Girl, with horn and string overdubs recorded in December 2013.
Shut This Down is believed to have been recorded in Spring 2014.
This Could Be Us was originally recorded in Spring 2014 and released on Art Official Age (as This Could Be Us), before it was remixed in 2014 or early 2015 with additional overdubs.
Similarly, Mr. Nelson contains significant components of Clouds, originally recorded in Spring or Summer 2014 and originally released on Art Official Age, before additional work was done in 2014 or early 2015 to create the new track.
Ain’t About To Stop and X’s Face were originally recorded in Summer 2014. Million $ Show was recorded in early 2015, with further work including editing and horn/string overdubs in July 2015. Like A Mack is believed to have been recorded at some point in early 2015, with remixing and rap overdubs by Curly Fryz taking place in early July 2015.
Hardrocklover and June were recorded on the same day in late June 2015.
The album was played in full during a DJ set by Joshua Welton following Prince and 3rdEyeGirl’s private show celebrating African-American Music Appreciation Month, hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of The White House in Washington, D.C., on 13 June 2015, indicating that the album was complete in some form at that time.
It seems, however, that additional work was done in late June, adding the newly-recorded Hardrocklover and June, as well as the updated version of Million $ Show, and perhaps other changes.
During the announcement of the album, Hannah Welton-Ford announced that the album was recorded solely by Prince and Joshua Welton, indicating that the 3rdEyeGirl band was not involved in the album. Donna Grantis appeared playing one solo on Ain’t About To Stop with 3rdEyeGirl singing background vocals on the same track.
The album contains a few female guest vocalists. Judith Hill appears on Million $ Show. British singer Rita Ora appears on Ain’t About To Stop, which was originally recorded for her own second album. Female rap duo Curly Fryz (including Danielle Curiel, who had previously been hand-picked by Prince to direct the video for Breakfast Can Wait) appear on Like A Mack.
British folk/soul singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas appears (sampled from Clouds) on Mr. Nelson.
Interestingly, American actress/singer Zooey Deschanel’s vocals from the single version of Fallinlove2nite were removed for the track’s inclusion on the album; perhaps because that version was closely tied to Prince’s appearance on the TV show New Girl, on which Deschanel is the lead actress, and his appearance was 18 months prior to the album’s release.
Three singles from the album have been released to date.
- Fallinlove2nite was released 18 months before the album (prior to the release of the two previous studio albums, in fact, with no album announced at the time of the single’s release), although the version used on the single contained additional vocals by Zooey Deschanel and was released close to Prince’s appearance on the TV show New Girl, on which Deschanel is the lead actress.
- Hardrocklover was released ten weeks before the album’s release (although no album was announced at the time of the single’s release).
The Tidal release of the album was accompanied by a significant new presence by Prince on the platform, including the availability of many past albums that had been unavailable for a number of years - The Truth, C Note, Xpectation, The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse, as well as a few unique video tracks, including the debut of Indifference.
The album reached position 7 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and 70 on the Billboard 200. It failed to reach top 10 positions in Europe, Australia and Japan.
Hitnrun Phase One is the last widely available physical album (on CD) released by Prince during his lifetime.