|Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic is Prince’s 23rd full-length studio album, and the sixth to be released using the name . It was his first and only album to be released by Arista Records. It was released worldwide in November 1999 (just two and a half months after the vault album The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale).
The album was overseen by music industry executive Clive Davis, who had used guest stars to revive the career of Santana and others. Rather than the guest stars receiving payment for their appearances, Prince repaid the favor by offering to record with them for their own projects, although only Waiting Room by No Doubt, Providence by Ani DiFranco and versions of The Greatest Romance Ever Sold and Baby Knows by Maceo Parker have been released.
It is not known if recordings took place with Chuck D, Eve or Sheryl Crow (the cover of Everyday Is A Winding Road may have repaid the favor, as Crow would receive writer’s royalties for the track).
The album was later given a companion piece, Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic, containing many of the same tracks, and remixes/extended versions of others. While Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic was clearly intended to be a commercial hit, Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic seemed to be more closely tied to Prince’s musical interests of the time.
Sessions and compiling
The title track was recorded in July 1988 (initially titled Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic) and served as the title track of an unreleased 1988 album, Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic. The rest of the tracks were recorded between June 1998 and mid-September 1999. The album contains a cover version of Sheryl Crow’s Everyday Is A Winding Road, while the rest of the tracks were written by Prince (as ).
The album was produced by "Prince", marking the first "new" use of the name since changing his name to in 1993 (before "Prince" was announced as the producer, several articles and interviews had stated that for the first time, Prince (as ) would be using an outside producer for commercial appeal).
While the album is largely recorded solely by Prince (as ), the album features a number of famous guest-stars, in keeping with a trend of the time. Undisputed featured Public Enemy rapper Chuck D. Hot Wit U featured rapper Eve.
So Far, So Pleased featured No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani. Baby Knows featured Sheryl Crow. Love U, But Don’t Trust U Anymore featured independent singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco.
The hidden track, Prettyman, featured the first appearance on a Prince-related track of saxophonist Maceo Parker, with whom Prince would work a lot in the years to come.
The album produced only one commercially-released single, The Greatest Romance Ever Sold (which preceded the album), and also produced two promotional singles, Baby Knows and Man‘O’War. The Hot X-perience, a vinyl 12" single containing remixes of Hot Wit U, was also planned for release in 2000, and advertised on Love4oneanother.com, but was ultimately left unreleased.
Prince (as ) did not launch a full-scale tour to support the album, but during the month of the album’s release he performed on ten different European TV shows, along with a few one-off live shows to promote the album. A pay-per-view special shown on New Year’s Eve 1999, titled Rave Un2 the Year 2000, also served as a promotional tool for the album.
The album reached number 18 on The Billboard 200, and number 8 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart.
On 26 April 2019, the album was re-released by The Prince Estate and Sony’s Legacy Recordings on the same day as its companion piece Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic. A box-set named Ultimate Rave containing both albums and the Rave Un2 The Year 2000 DVD was also released on this day.