Prince Signs With Arista; Lands Chuck D, Ani DiFranco, Sheryl Crow For New LP

After two years of releasing albums directly to retail outlets and via his own Internet site, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince has inked a new deal with a major label, Arista Records, which will release his new album "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" in November.

For the LP, Prince has enlisted the help of such friends and accomplices as Chuck D, Ani DiFranco, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Maceo Parker, and Sheryl Crow, whom he recently joined onstage during Lilith Fair's Toronto show for a duet on Crow's "Every Day is a Winding Road" (see "Sheryl Crow Jams With Prince At Lilith Gig").

As part of his contract with Arista, Prince will retain ownership over all the master tapes of his recordings, a provision absent from his previous agreement with Warner Bros. Records, who issued a compilation of Prince's studio outtakes, titled "The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale," earlier this week.

Since formally leaving Warner Bros. in 1996,

the Artist has released three albums on his own, including 1998's five-disc set, "Crystal Ball."

"I believe I had to get out of the recording industry for a while so that I could reclaim my artistry and become empowered by it again," Prince wrote in a statement heralding his new contract. "The problems I had with so-called majors were regarding ownership and long-term contracts. Both of these problems are non-existent in my agreement with Arista."

In September, the Artist will issue "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold" as the first single from "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic."

-- David Basham