Let me start off by saying 2016 really sucks. It just seems like all at once major popular culture figures are going up to the big spirit in the sky. And for very sudden reasons the general public are not made aware of. I can't handle this anymore. Someone put Tom Hank in a bubble please!
When David Bowie died I was stunned. Just utter denial. But I actually didn't cry for a while. I was depressed for sure but I didn't cry. When I found out about Prince’s death, I was at work. I checked Twitter like I always do and the news had just broken. There were two posts on my timeline about it. I immediately tweeted “nope” in all caps. I was in shock and to be honest, thought it was a joke or a death hoax like the people of the Internet love to create just give poor, innocent people like myself heart attacks. But why of all people would someone joke that Prince died? It seems illogical and highly juvenile and irresponsible. So that's means it's true then? Prince is dead. In all honesty, I had a panic attack. My heart was racing. My breaths were shallow. I started shaking. It really couldn't be.
But it was. Prince Rogers Nelson had died.
I don't have a touching story about how Prince saved my life like David Bowie did. I can't tell you when I started listening to his music because I truly don’t remember. I can’t even tell you the first Prince song I’ve ever heard. But none of that matters because like for so many fans, his music touched us. It was funky. It was trippy. Fun. Romantic. Sexy borderline pornographic. It was everything.
Prince broke the barriers of how music should be divided. He didn't stick to R&B music or pop music just because the color of his skin told him to should stay in this lane. Not only did he not stay in his lane, he built a whole new highway where only the majestic purple one could ever use. He was a rock and roller. He was a genius guitar player that I believe has been overlooked for far too long. Prince was an extraordinary instrumentalist who had such a gifted mind for music. It's been said he is a combination of Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, and James Brown all rolled into one small package. And though we can see all of these instances of each performer in Prince, Prince is still just Prince. He is his own category. He hated being compared and believed the only the music mattered and not the man on the stage. But we couldn't help but watch the man on the stage! Look at him! He was amazing!
I remember watching Purple Rain for the first time. I thought the movie was unbelievably cheesy. It had problems of misogyny and violence against women. The dialogue was a bit trite and so over the top. I still love it. The movie may not be the greatest in terms of cinematic greatness, but if there's anything anyone can take away from that movie is just how amazing the music is. He wrote it all. Not just the music he performs with the Revolution but also the music performed by The Time and Apollonia 6. All the music made you want to dance, sing, cry, and wave a lighter in the air. The most poignant scene I think everyone can agree on is when The Kid (Prince's character) performs the titular song “Purple Rain”. Transcendence. Powerful. Moving. There are not enough nouns and adjectives to describe it. But when you watch it, you can just feel the song wash over you. I only want to see you in the purple rain.
Since his death the most surprising thing I've learned about him is his humanitarian work. All he did was care about the lives of others. He was fortunate to have a gift that gave him the resources to help those less fortunate. Prince threw concerts in Detroit and Baltimore to help stop the violence in those communities. He cared about black lives. He cared about the well being of his fans. And he never asked for a thank you in return. He was humble. He hated making a display of all his generous donations and contributions. It was an interview on CNN’s Dom Lemon’s show where a friend of Prince’s, Van Jones, teared up while sharing a story about how Prince just cared about the people around him. It’s always a tragedy when we lose people who did nothing but good for their world. There’s a lot of hate and evil in this world. Prince shined a (purple) light of love on everyone. The last thing we need is let that light of goodness go out.
Prince Rogers Nelson taught me to never conform. To be creative. To create my own mold that I can only fit in. Be outside your gender. Be outside your sexuality. Be outside your race. Be something that no one can touch. And do it in heels. Prince was a confusing character because he wasn’t like everyone else. He radiated originality. In a world of over seven billion people, Prince was able to stand out. And in this world where it feels like we can never shine or we feel like just another cog in the machine, it’s hard to be original but far from impossible. Prince never believed in the impossible. So why should we?
I know there is still so much more to say about him, but it’s hard to find the words. I'm still in shock to say the least. I regret never seeing Prince in concert. I've always heard he would put on one hell of a show. I wish I knew him personally. Every celeb seems to have a hilarious story about him. My favorite will always be from Charlie Murphy as seen on the Dave Chappelle Show. If you can find the full version of the sketch online, prepare for a good laugh. But here is a great story from Kevin Smith and his Prince encounter.
All there is left to do is sing his songs. Not just his songs but the songs he wrote for other people: “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan, “Glamorous Life” by Sheila E, and so many more. We’ll never run out of his music. So let’s dance to memory and his legacy. It’s what he would have wanted.
Alicia Keys inducted Prince into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In her speech she said, "There are many kings. King Henry VIII, King Solomon, King Tut, King James, King Kong, the three kings, but there is only one Prince.” She’s right. There is no other. There will never be another. You're a part of the beautiful ones now Prince. Thank you for everything.