Controversy is Prince's fourth album. It saw Prince continue with the punk and new wave elements of Dirty Mind, whilst introducing new electronic elements to his sound.
It was Prince's first album to be partially recorded at Sunset Sound, which would become Prince's preferred studio up until the construction of Paisley Park. Two songs feature his first use of drum machines on a studio album, most significantly the Linn LM-1 on "Private Joy". Prince would use the LM-1 throughout the rest of his career.
Prince toured the album from November 1981 to March 1982.
Controversy was recorded in the spring and summer of 1982. It was tracked at Prince's Kiowa Trail home studio, Hollywood Sound studios and Sunset Sound. The album was overdubbed and mixed at Sunset Sound. Dr Fink, Lisa Coleman and Bobby Z appear on the song "Jack U Off", probably using their live rigs listed above.