LAST WEEK, CAPITOL/EMI and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (heretofore known as "The Artist"), hosted a party for dozens of celebrities, music bizzers, and more than 100 international journalists. The occasion was the upcoming release of Emancipation, The Artist's triple-CD comeback that hit stores Tuesday. What follows is some of the evening's dialogue, all guaranteed overheard.

          "The record companies should pay--it's publicity!" (journalist to another journalist, discussing press junkets--like the one for Emancipation--where entertainment corporations provide all-expense-paid trips for journalists to report on their clients)

          "It's really crowded in here--I can't guarantee anything." (coat-check woman to patron wanting to know if his bag would be safe)

           "It's one of the most beautiful songs ever written." (The Artist on why he covered the Stylistics's "Betcha by Golly, Wow")

          "Where's Michael Jackson?" (unidentified man watching the video for "Betcha by Golly, Wow")

          "Where's Spike Lee? He's on the guest list." (journalist to companion)

          "I heard the guys in Phish bought those jackets at Ragstock today." (unidentified woman to companion)

          "You know, there's no metal detector out front." (various onlookers following the entrance of producer and alleged Tupac Shakur nemesis Sean "Puffy" Combs)

          "She's the first person who never showed me malice." (The Artist at press conference, on why he married Mayté)

           "God put me here... I'll stay here the rest of my life." (The Artist on his hometown)

          "Now we can see you are really just a normal guy." (journalist to The Artist)

          "D'Angelo is the most beautiful man in R&B." (unidentified woman to companion)

          "TLC do Prince better than Prince." (journalist to another journalist)

          "I don't own Prince's music. I don't own 'Purple Rain.' But I know how to play it." (The Artist on the vagaries of the music business)

          "I've got a record to sell." (The Artist on why he suddenly decided to make himself available to the press after all these years of shunning it)

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