“Like Books and Black lives, albums still matter.”-Prince
When I heard about Prince’s death, all I could do was go back and time and reminisce immediately and try to minimize my sadness to no avail. I cried, just like I did when I found out another musical genius in Michael passed away. There was no shame to be displayed or pride. I will say the day I heard Prince left us in the physical would have a lasting effect on me that could easily be explained. Prince was part of my musical childhood, and when any parts of that leave you, it becomes a permanent void that will never be re-filled.
My first recollection of Prince was during the 1984 airing of the music video of “When Doves Cry”. Of course, Prince would have had a little history of obtaining hits with four previously released albums in the 70’s, and early 80’s before the classic Purple Rain album would enter my world. After watching Prince rise out of a bathtub onto the floor looking like a seductive slithering cocoa buttered human Python, I wanted to emulate his every move, which would eventually get me scolded. When Prince made another famous move in the video “Let’s Get Crazy”, where both of his hands rotated over his face and body in quick sexual enhanced succession, while occasionally sticking out his tongue – I decided to try that move. Let’s just say, that seductive move by a fourth-grader at the time didn’t bond well with my mother.
Prince was able to create an artistic history of punk, rock, pop, songwriting, showcase entrepreneurship, philanthropy and empowered people with an emphasis on women in decades worth of his life work. Not many artists in our lifetime can showcase such qualities and maintain imagery that was seductively appealing and full of eccentricity that added to one’s overall sex appeal like Prince. With all that Prince gave to us, he was still an enigma and private to the core, which I respected him even more for that ability to keep his personal life, private.
I don’t think I will ever see a man who is barely over 5’2, wearing high heels, bell bottoms, lace, the color purple and a perm and now an afro destroy the notion what masculinity should resemble. Prince was comfortable in his skin and didn’t care what anyone thought of him for it. What’s also worth noting, Prince appeared to have such sheer confidence, and that was clearly evident when he wanted to give us a glimpse of his bird chest and baby chest hairs. Prince was the embodiment on imagery that was rarely seen in such a sexually enhanced way, during his mainstream explosion in the 80’s. Prince sex appeal in the present has been consistent, without a doubt one of many added attributes to his persona.
Besides Prince’s stellar musical catalog, he penned and produced so many hits for people, notably women. As I went through his writing credits, the majority of them were for women and propelling them into their lane where they shined, by the guidance of Prince’s talent. Sinead O’Conner might have never been known on a mainstream level if it wasn’t for Prince’s pen for O’Conner’s successful single, “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Sheila E can thank Prince’s influence and fingerprints on production and writing on Shelia’s track, “The Glamorous Life.” The protégés like Moris Day and The Time that Prince was able to create and guide were astounding.
Then I thought about the tracks and production that Prince did for other women, that many people weren’t knowledgeable about, and it was profound. Chaka Khan received Prince’s genius pen in the song, “I Feel For You”, Stevie Nicks received the same treatment from one of my favorite songs in her catalog in “Stand Back.” Madonna, Alicia Keys, The Bangles, Vanity, Patti La Belle, Cyndi Lauper also received Prince’s golden touch. Until recently, I realized Prince led a helping had on TLC’s classic Crazy, Sexy, Cool album with the lyrics to “If I Was Your Girlfriend”, in which the group would cover. Prince appears to have had a hand in a lot of the ladies’ musical career that I mentioned and many more, which made him even more special to me.
Prince also was a rebel and fought against record companies to ensure that he had his masters back, and empowered all artists that if one created the work, they should be allowed to own their work and not the corporate giants. Prince had to change his name at one time to “the artist formerly known as Prince” and just go with a symbol because Warner Bros wanted to keep everything that he created down to his name that his mother gave him. The day Prince wrote slave on his cheek, made me understand the importance of ownership. Prince also led the way, for future artists to obtain their masters and have more creative control of their work that they created. One can see Prince in this juncture left a residual effect, that other artist like Beyonce, Drake, Rhianna, etc. are starting to inherit their masters, or come out with music in their independent way.
Regarding philanthropy, according to Vance Jones (Prince’s close friend), who was interviewed on CNN, Prince was the prince of the word philanthropy. There were so many projects and humanitarian efforts that were made by Prince that he didn’t want the public to know about when he was alive. Until recently, Jones stated one is going to hear all of the humanitarian efforts Prince has made in his lifetime that will surprise many people.
It has also been revealed that Prince was consistently shy, but had a great and witty sense of humor. Those that were close to Prince had stated if he wasn’t a musician he could have easily been a comedian and would have been a good one. If one were to evaluate and combine all of Prince’s attributes, one would realize the uniqueness he displayed made him out to be one in a million and more than likely unable to be duplicated in my lifetime.
As far as Prince’s music goes, I think this is one of the last of an artist who can write, dance, produce, play an array of instruments and display such musical talent that it has become almost extinct in artists today. Not many people can wear many hats as Prince has demonstrated over the decades. There is still Prince music that I have yet to devour in because Prince has created such a massive body of work. From albums that started in 1978 to 2015 and we aren’t counting his posthumous work that we have yet to hear as of yet. I know I will be shifting through Prince’s musical genius for decades. Prince arrived in an era that was heavily saturated with talent. Prince had to compete against Michael, Madonna, Whitney, Janet, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, rock groups like The Police, Duran Duran and the rest of the British explosion. Prince left that decade in the 80’s and 90’s and came out and still maintain longevity and relevancy like a boss. That is unheard of in the present, where it appears only about two to three artists can shine together. Looking back now, most of my 80’s artists are no longer living, and it’s even shocking to other artist who came in the industry before them.
Prince was also unapologetically Black that he was so sneaky when it came down to social issues in his lyrics that some may have missed. Some were too busy dancing to Prince’s songs that they didn’t pay attention to his lyrics, as much. Prince wrote about the AIDS, crack, poverty and other social issues that was gripping a nation during a time where our government didn’t care to address the issue. Songs like “Pop Life”, “Alphabet St.”, “Sign o’ The Times”, etc. addressed many social issues. Tracks that highlighted Prince’s raunchy side were songs like “Delirious” “Kiss”, etc. but showcased his true romantic side in songs like “The Most Beautiful Girl in The World”, and “Adore” among others. Prince was the embodiment of a revolutionary and groundbreaking artist.
Even though Prince is no longer here in the physical, and the work Prince left behind has been extraordinary and will continue to inspire. We all have an inkling to Prince’s work ethic, and I’m excited and sad at the same time. The future without a new Prince record will never happen, and I look forward to not only his memoir that he was working on before his untimely passing, but the music in his private vault, which he admitted during an interview on The View that will be released. Prince went on to say in that interview, more than likely it will not be released by him. I’m sure Prince’s new music would cause us to “let’s get crazy” again, nevertheless.
I told a friend of mine, the day I can slowly get out of a bathtub, crawl on the floor butt ass naked that is laced with rose petals – will be the day I finally would say that I have arrived and have fully paid homage to a man that dared to be different, and left us with an immaculate legacy.
Rest in peace, Prince you will always be loved.
Just mourning for the masses, ya dig?