For You, Prince (dedication)

My childhood officially ended today (not really). The passing of Prince (Rogers Nelson), who, undoubtedly was one of the greatest musicians of all-time, marks the end of an era (that era being the late 1970s - into which I was born, and the 1980s - during which I formed my personality).

His album, For You, is one of the most underrated (from being unheralded, or certainly much less heralded than Purple Rain) pieces of music out there, yet produced some of my favorite songs -- the title track is just beautiful, I Feel For You (later made popular by Chaka Khan's rendition), and Soft and Wet. Let's keep in mind that this album was his in the sense that he wrote, vocalized, and produced it. All of it.

Prince was one of my favorite artists, period. I wrestled between him and his commercial rival, Michael Jackson (as did many others) when I was coming up, but I think I respected his artistry more, since he was able to play his own instruments. His legacy of not running up against the law always spoke to me, since it seems easy for Black men in this country to become targets for their oppressors. And not many people know this, but me being able to define who I am/was by assuming/forming my own identity was due largely to Prince successfully challenging Warner Brothers for control over his gifts. Him wanting to be known as a symbol () during the dispute ("The Artist Formerly Known As Prince") partly influenced my motif (). Perhaps the biggest influence he had on me and UUe was the lesson that is: just stick to the thing you do best, (if you have to) fight to do it your way, and let your volume showcase your enjoyment.

When Michael (Jackson) died, I believe his style (far-reaching pop music built around fashionable dance and marketable visuals) died with him. Mike had said in an interview that people always wanted him to 'outdo' Thriller by making another version similar to it. But he "had already done it", he said. Meaning that the record he set was the goal he wanted to achieve, and he was satisfied with that. The same panygeric can be applied to Prince - the androgynous look coupled with immense musical skills evidenced by precocious output could only be pulled off by him, and he knew it.

There's not a whole lot left to be said; one has to visit his catalog on their own to appreciate his depth. The journey is well-worth the voyage, if for no other reason than being able to witness arguably the greatest musical talent the world has come to know.

Thank you, brother,




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