Got a minute?
Where do you begin with Prince? Do you begin with Purple Rain on 1984, and how remarkable of an album it was? Or do you begin with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” in 1979, and how fresh and exciting it was to see a guy from Minneapolis record a great new ditty that helped shape that year in music, and that he recorded the entire song by himself? Do you begin with his non-conformity in the music business? A business that was trying to market him as they see fit, and make him a slave to the industry based on the international sales figures he can conjure up with his art? Meanwhile, they going against his own beliefs on how he should be seen by the public? Or do you begin with an artist that entertained millions with non-genre based masterly crafted songs that appealed to black, white, soul, rock, young and old?
Or do you begin with 1999?
It’s so hard to capture Prince and put him in a box. He’s like a cat that gets tired sitting there waiting for you to open the lid to let him out. He was too wild for that. He opened the lid and let himself out. And in the meantime, he entertained you, he dazzled you, he made you laugh at him and with him. He rocked the house. He sat tenderly at a piano and gave you diamonds AND pearls, and did it with nothing but pure, unadulterated heart and a lot of pure spun soul. He exposed himself in more ways than we wanted him to. But he covered himself up and hid behind a mask.
Prince was the greatest walking contradiction in life and he did so honestly and with no apologies. He produced a lot of really cool shit, and some really bizarre shit – covering all bases as he went along, just so we all get entertained one way or another. It mattered to him, what you thought of him, or it didn’t. We don’t know.
But he never apologized for a Goddamned thing! He was REAL! Prince Rogers Nelson was black, white, alien, domestic, terrestrial and just out of this galaxy. He came and went decade to decade. And no matter the year, or decade, his music remained solid, it remained unapologetic. It remained true to his continuing roots and never changed a bit – but always changed and revolved. Every single album that Prince every released, from 1978’s For You, to his last effort while still alive, 2015’s HITandRUN, Phase Two, all were masterful works of art that were Funk, Soul, R&B, Rock, Pop, Folk, Prince.
Prince was solid with conviction.
“Batdance” might have been the most ridiculous thing he could have ever done – sandwiched between the very cool “Alphabet Street” and the heavily ass-kicking “Thieves In The Temple” – see, contradiction is he.
The loss of Prince on April 21, 2016 may not immediately effect today’s shallow, autotuned, twerky pop stars, but somewhere down the line, he will be celebrated by a parent, or a grandparent, who shall tell tales of old, about that great old-time, next-to-Godliness soul/pop/rock/funk master. A master who once changed more than the world ever gave him credit for. And that child or grandchild could be inspired enough to be the next “artist” to come along and make you forget what a Bieber or a Cyrus is. He will teach a new generation what a Beatle is, or a Stone, or what a Dylan or a Presley is. Or just as importantly, what a Prince is.