N.E.W.S. is the twenty-seventh studio album by Prince, containing four tracks of 14 minutes duration each. Recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studios over a single day, the album was initially available through Prince's NPG Music Club website on May 26, 2003 before becoming widely commercially available on July 22. The album can be seen as a modern incarnation of Madhouse, but this time as a Prince release. Original Madhouse member Eric Leeds lends his talents, as well as The New Power Generation members John Blackwell, Rhonda Smith and Renato Neto. The album is reportedly the lowest-selling Prince album released to date, with just 30,000 copies sold, but it did become a top ten hit on the Billboard Internet sales chart, and garnered a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Instrumental Performance".
N.E.W.S. gives Prince his voice a rest and lets the music do all the talking. Four rambling tracks named North (funk), East (moody), West (confusion) and South (jazz) the music here is very different and is closer if anything to Holst’s The Planets. Yet N.E.W.S. has the hotel lobby vibe running throughout but what good can be said of the album? It has some moments North and East start off CD well but by West the listener’s finger is hovering precariously over S.T.O.P. and not Repeat. Although N.E.W.S. lacks the pace it does not sacrifice quality. The songs – let’s call them jams – are appreciated better if not played often (let’s face it repeat listening is unlikely). This is an album with two purposes: 1) to help the digestion of food during the dinner wind-down; 2) a collectable. N.E.W.S. appears to be the project which Prince was either using to round off his legacy and showcase his musical dexterity, or get his style over substance period out of his system in the wake of the duller Xpectation and marginally less irritating C-Note. The music is what you would expect from Prince, masterful, but with that he sacrificed his smart, albeit cleaned up, lyrical craft – and thank God come 2004 Prince stemmed his musical decline with Musicology.