I Want U (Purple Version) is the 13th and final track on Rosie Gaines' third album Closer Than Close (first track on the international version), and, around the time of the album's release, I Want U was released as the album's first single, containing several remixes of the track. The US and Japanese versions of the album also contained a different version of the song, titled I Want U (Inner City Blue) (Earth Mama Version) (as the first track).
In 2000, new mixes of the song were available on a revised single of I Want U, and in 2005, rosiegaines.com released several other remixes of the song.
In 2010, the original I Want U (Inner City Blue) was released as the first track of the digital release of the album Concrete Jungle. Later in 2010, Rosie Gaines released a digital version of I Want U (The Mixes, Vol. 2), containing other previously-unreleased versions, including the original 1989 recording (as I Want U (Original Paisley Version)). It was latter included (as I Want U (Paisley Version)) on the Closer Than Close 20th Anniversary Edition.
I Want U was written by Prince and Rosie Gaines and produced by Ricky Peterson. I Want U (Inner City Blue) versions give writing co-credit to Arthur Ross, Leon Ware, James Nyx and Marvin Gaye, as they include portions of Marvin Gaye's tracks I Want You (from I Want You, 1976, also released as a single) and Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (from What's Going On, 1971, also released as a single).
While specific recording dates are not known, basic tracking for the original version (known only as I Want U) took place in mid-December 1989, at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota as Rosie Gaines' first recording with Prince. She had previously played with Levi Seacer, Jr. in the Curtis Ohlson Band, and he had brought her in to sing on the track I Want U, which he was producing originally for The Pointer Sisters.
The track was re-arranged and re-recorded from scratch by Ricky Peterson in late 1992 at Paisley Park Studios. It is likely that the track only received the name I Want U (Purple Version) when the decision was made to include more than one version on the album in 1995.
Remixes were made by several producers in 1995 and 2000 (recording details are needed for these remixes).