“Welcome 2 America” was never going to be a typical Prince album.

Recorded in 2010 at his famed Paisley Park studio in Minnesota, the project enlisted hotshot bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Chris Coleman for a series of tracks inspired by 1970s jazz, soul and funk. Prince recruited longtime keyboardist Morris Hayes to help produce the 12-song album and embarked on his Welcome 2 world tour later that same year.

But the effort was mysteriously scrapped just before release. Even a decade later, those who worked on the album – which will finally be released Friday – still don’t totally understand why.

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“That was a surprise to me,” Hayes says. If he had to guess, Prince might’ve axed it because not all of the album’s collaborators (including Wilkenfeld) were able to join him on the road.
“I only surmised that if he couldn’t put this album out with the crew he created it with, then I think it was a big mitigating factor in why it hit the shelf,” Hayes says. “Prince had this thing where he would shoot first and ask questions later. And if he didn’t have commitment from all those people that we could go out and make a big splash – with a new band, a new Prince – then the balloon would just go down. If all those things weren’t aligned, that would cause that (music) to go in the vault.”

Prince’s new posthumous album, “Welcome 2 America,” is out now.

Prince was “also working on the ’20Ten’ album and he was feeling that one more at the moment, so he ended up putting that out” in 2010, says backup vocalist Elisa Fiorillo. But he still played “Welcome 2 America” on tour and “I know he was excited. He was testing the waters to see how it would be accepted or not. Maybe he just thought it wasn’t the right time.”

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