Why Prince Is King
Note: This was a post from a couple years ago that Prince loved. I decided that I would re-post it since it stands just as true today.
– Mr. Christopher
From an outsider, it sure looks like we’re spending an inordinate amount of time reporting on Prince and everything that he’s doing and in truth, you’d be right. We even have a page dedicated to Prince that covers tour dates, news, videos, and other tidbits. But what makes him so intriguing? How did he create such an indestructible persona and why does Funkatopia feel it necessary to be harsh sometimes? Let’s discuss.
To start, in my (Mr. Christopher) defense, I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. The first I heard Prince was the Controversy album. The first tour I saw was 1999 way back in the early 80’s as a young kid all of probably 14 or so. I was brought to see him by a friend of my mother’s and I had no idea what I was looking at. I like to brag about that being the first tour I had seen, but in truth my head was somewhere else at that time and I totally missed the significance of actually being present at that tour. But the travesty ends there as I would see pretty much every tour from there on out including Purple Rain 3 times at the Omni in Atlanta. And my stories of Prince encounters are vast, but designed for another time. I’m just setting the foundation for you of where this writer is coming from.
I have always loved how Prince keeps re-inventing himself and get asked why we cover Prince so much when he’s really not “funk”. Prince has always been funky, but he would never attain a true funk branding because on every album there were always a plethora of songs that were far removed from funk. 1999 is undoubtedly his funkiest album if for no other reason that it had the fewest deviations from funk. Even Lady Cab Driver and Something In The Water were very funky. But any albums outside of that masterpiece have always had a lot of jaunts in various directions. Ronnie Talk To Russia, The Digital Garden, Darling Nikki, Guitar, Others Here With Us, Annie Christian, Calhoun Square, Computer Blue, and the list goes on and on.
And that’s what makes it difficult to pigeon hole Prince into any specific category. While he is a pop artist of sorts, those moments are infrequent in the grand scheme of his albums. The hits always seem to be surrounded on their respective albums with adventurous whatnot. Prince refuses to be tied down by categorization and the end result is what makes being a Prince fan so unassuming. You have no idea what territory each album will take you.
So how does he do it? What makes Prince so amazing and bulletproof from scorn or judgment? It doesn’t. His detractors are out there in force. But at the end of the day, it makes no difference what any of us will say. He surrounds himself with positive vibes at all times and completely envelops himself with positivity to keep his creative juices flowing by leaving the negativity for everyone else to read. He simply has no desire to be interested in what any blogger or music critic may say. As long as he stays true to himself and his artistry, it makes no difference what any of us think.
I will admit that I’ve been harsh to him at times, but it’s not because I dislike something he’s done as much as a result of my frustration and not understanding why he’s doing what he’s doing. When in truth, not even I know the entire story. It can be discouraging to be a Prince fan and never hear his new material on the radio and feeling like he’s doing the exact opposite of what can help to remedy that problem.
At the end of the day, even if I feel as if I’m bringing reality or levity into the scope of things, I’m just a blogger who doesn’t have the full breadth of information or background story. And that is by his design. He is a master at creating that invisible blockade to keep people guessing. It doesn’t change the fact that I will always be a Prince fan who, like you, yearns for the 80’s when his music was everywhere you turned your radio dial. When music was actually good. Real music by real musicians. Now forever pigeon holed as “old school.”
Clarity came as we helped to put together a great Prince Celebration with Wrecka Stow Productions in Atlanta in the coming weeks, it became painfully obvious that we could fill the entire 5 hours allocated for the party with just his hits and still not even scratch the surface. I knew that he was always writing and had more music that we could fathom, but it was truly in that moment that I quickly realized that the depth of his mastery is almost limitless.
Between his protege bands (Sheila E, The Time, Mazarati, etc.), the hits, the albums, the concerts, the fabled vault of music, the bootlegs, the jingles, songs for other artists you had no idea he was involved in, the side projects (3rd Eye Girl, NPG, Madhouse, etc.), and the endless pool of remixes and varied versions of songs, the party could go on for a week solid at 24 hours a day and still not drain the pool of his music.
What probably makes me more bummed out than anything is knowing that at 45, even if I live to see 80, there will still be music of his that I don’t get a chance to hear even after I die. This is a man who will probably write more music and record more songs in the coming month than most artists will churn out in a decade.
He surrounds himself in music and the creative process 24/7. It’s been said that every room in Paisley Park is miked so that genius can be captured anywhere that he may be in the building. His focus is laser sharp and his process almost never stops. He surrounds himself with the best because anything else is just a waste of time.
Even if God forbid, he were to meet God today, there would be a never ending flow of posthumous music similar to what you’re experiencing with Jimi Hendrix. The difference is that Prince has been non-stop writing and recording since the late 70’s. That’s creeping up on almost 40 years of non-stop creative flow. We have no idea what’s there and how vast the library may be, but you can guarantee that even if you were granted access to it and dedicated the rest of your life to listening to all of it, that you would be dead before you got to the end. And even if you somehow made it through, they would be whispering in your dead ear something like, “Dude, I totally forgot about that one private session with Miles Davis we recorded. Maybe next time? I’ll play it for you on the Boat“.
But Prince created the ultimate package. From the band mates he chose, to the clothes he created and wore, the way he wore his hair, and down to the amount of personal information that he let everyone know. He created enough mysticism about who he was, that there are still myths and stories that remain unanswered or confirmed. He gave you multiple reasons to embrace him and just enough to question what you know.
The only reason why we even do “less than positive” reviews is simply not to pander. Prince has enough websites, blogs, orgs, and proponents to do that. There’s simply no journalistic integrity in praising every note and song because there’s no honesty in that. In some form or fashion, people do have certain expectations. But even in that perspective, it doesn’t matter. There are no bad Prince albums. You simply either don’t get it or haven’t gotten it yet. The reality is that if a review is negative, it’s only because our expectations didn’t run parallel with what he gave us.
This is why Prince will always be King. His musical genius knows no bounds. He’s still actively selling out shows decades later even though people have no idea what to expect once he hits the stage. I couldn’t be more pleased to see his resurgence and to know that there are big things coming down the pike within the coming months and years.
While I have to do my due diligence in writing truthful perspectives and reviewing whatever he puts out for us to consume, there will never be a doubt that personally, Prince is a huge hero to me. I long for the day that I get a chance to interview him sans recorder, pen or paper. That’s the pinnacle. I can’t even begin to describe the influence he’s had on me as a performer, singer, and even down to how I listen to music. He continually sets the bar that no one can touch and even if he stopped now, it would be an unattainable goal for any artist to amass the depth of his artistry. And it’s one heck of a ride.
What makes Prince great for you?
26 thoughts on “Why Prince Is King”
Nice article. I had the chance to “interview” Prince at the Rainbow Children Celebration with Kevin Smith and have been a fan since Purple Rain but became a huge fan upon seeing Graffiti Bridge. Now you know I must get it as that movie isn’t for everyone. Nobody can touch Prince’s mastery of music. He is truly the most talented musician on the planet and unless you see him live, you will never get it. I told Prince that I thought his forte was his live performance. He disagreed with me and said it was his producing. Hard to argue with either.
interesting question!! – I’d say his producing is beyond measures, mindblowing, ingenious — but the way he gets things on stage (not 1:1 like on record, which would be impossible) is another kind of magic – fortunately not 1:1 but everytime in another arrangement – new (even his first hits) – fresh – full of energy – alive – mozart-bach-nelson !!
Prince is not only a brilliant musician but he is also a very giving and caring person. He continue to perform at a level that is far above most and he has a passion for creating music and memories!
Great piece. I’ve been locked into Prince since 1984 and went backward to catch up from there and followed everything since. And like you it’s the uniqueness and constant change that I love about his music. There is also a Spirtiual connection to Prince as well that I can’t deny. The writing and the wisdom behind it attracts me as much as the sound. He’s deep. He’s personal and he’s passionate about everything he does and to me that’s what makes a true artist! Thank you Prince!
I love the way he is quite reserved , shy,
and soft spoken during an interview but explodes on stage. He is sooo unique & I love it. I have loved his music for years, & just recently was able to see him in concert. .I
could watch him perform for hours!!!
Insatiable me !!!!
What about his talent in his musicianship? He’s not only know how to play many different instruments, he’s way above average in his skill set with them.
Absolutely. If there’s anything I would regret about this piece is not mentioning that, but the readers of this blog already understand that as a given. Just another thing to add to his genius.
Everything u just said! There r songs that i’ve listened 2 for YEARS and then one day a lightbulb goes off and i get it! Even what seems like a simple song is complex. Its like he’s light years ahead of us somehow.
When it comes 2 Prince, i never listen 2 music critics, 4 if i would have i’d never been treated 2 the majesty of The Rainbow Children (My favorite) and countless other masterpieces that some ppl just dont get.
Yes, he’s mystical and mysterious, but somehow we feel close 2 him. I think mayb bcuz his songs r so revealing. He puts everything out there on the floor. There is a song 4 every emotion and every circumstance. Prince says things that ppl only THINK and wouldnt dare tell anyone else. Sometimes he evens says things that u didnt know u felt until u heard him say it!
He’s a magician in the way he can make a song. The music, the lyrics and the vocal tell the exact same story! Avalanche is a perfect example of that. So is There Is Lonely. Oh man, i can be here all day with that!
I love Prince bcuz he’s a gift that u can never finish umwrapping
While we were getting things together for the Atlanta Prince celebration, my friend Ben played Glam Slam as part of his mix. I always despised that song for some reason and then all of a sudden they hit that jam at the end and it just clicked. I had to privately re-listen to it and that “lightbulb” as you said, went off. I think I’m mad at myself for judging that song all these years more than anything. grrr. Thanks again.
There r so many songs like that! Wedding Feast is one 4 me. Ppl dog that song! Even i said “WTH?” when i 1st heard it. Then when i really got inside and took that ride which is The Rainbow Children, i got it! It lifted my heart. Felt like a celebration. It fits the story. Ooh! And Solo ius another. WOW! What a vocal masterpiece.
Mr. Christopher, I don’t think I can add anymore to the “love letter” I just read, other than YOU GET IT, and THANK YOU. This is the BEST article regarding Prince that I have read-PERIOD, and I’ve been a “soldier” in the #princearmy for a good while!! Thanks again!!
Wow Crystal. Thanks so much. I literally am breathless at that comment. Thank you, thank you.
HE’S THE BEST I BEEN A FAN SINCE THE 80S STILL IS
The ones I didn’t get, turned out to B my favorites. U have to keep listen to them over and over again, hearing everytime a bit more of his genius in the songs. And then U got the A-Ha moment.
After that he hits U with a live version that’s different from the album and U want to go to every damn concert U can get tickets 4, up to 7 times in 1 tour and 7 times it’s different. He teasing with non album material thats even better than what is on the albums.
(Prince Addict Since ’84)
thanks for the awesome article! and thanks to the one who tweeted it. hes always ahead of his time so it can take a while to catch up and understand, but i’m thankful for being challenged to think and feel and grow
Great ‘blog’ thank you. Ionly one ?, ‘Calhoun Square’ not Funk!!! Pleeeeease haha
Argh, I know, right?! You know what I meant.
I have seen 27 gigs so I also relate to the scope of Prince’s music and style. My favourite gigs now are the Aftershows which bring on a certain intimacy because the venue’s are often much smaller and he just plays whatever he feels in the moment. I don’t stand all day for any other artist. Love him more than he will ever know because he makes me happy. He can tap into every emotion and is a phenomenal singer and musician – a genius in my books! I play his music and introduce him to people much younger than me and they fall under his spell. And now as a music manager I use his path through the fickle music industry as a blue print for the artist I’m helping get out there. He too it is a real unique talent in R&B and I teach him everything about Prince to assure him there are individual ways to make it!
Loved the article … thank you, Sally Griffyn
Thanks Sally. Same here. I too sit at 27 shows right now (including after-parties). It’s just right on par with magic.
I’ve written about Prince’s genius and mastery in my books “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” and “The Music of Business” acclaimed by Harvey Goldsmith.
See a recent review of his London and Amsterdam shows at http://humandynamics.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/prince-3rd-eye-girl/
I too have been an avid Prince fan since 1984 and have gone back to get his previous work as well owning everything he has released since. Still awaiting PlectrumElectrum!! Mr. Christopher, your article was like you were reading my mind! Thank you so much for being able to put into words what I have felt in my heart for years. A true fan can always identify a Prince song by the first lick…he’s just that UNIQUE.
I am not a musician but I am lucky enough to share my life with an extremely talented bass player, who also shares a deep admiration for Prince. We can sit and talk for hours about Prince’s music, the complexity, the simplicity, the genius, both musically and lyrically. He is like no other and I believe it’s safe to say there will never be another like him.
thank you very much. I have been a fan since 1979. I have loved prince because he can do it all. I am sorry it has taken so many years for people to appreciate him. I may not always like every song he has put out but the fact that he can play so much different types of music is beyond belief. he is a genius. I went to a club in march in Hollywood & I was bored. the music was so average. when hot thing & musicology came on it showed why prince is king in everything he does. those songs were so superior to the junk played. sadly the songs weren’t played till prince was there. I hate dance clubs. I wish there was more prince. thank you.
I, like many of us, understand your fanship of Prince. When you consider the scope of his musical powers it’s actually quite astounding and hard to believe that it’s all coming from the one guy. He is a mythical hero figure for many because of this. And he’s still alive! Imagine when he passes. His mythology will exponentially expand forever.
I find myself trusting Prince. We have a tendency as humans to create idols, to worship leaders and kings etc. Well, in an artistic sense, Prince is my King. He is a source of artistic inspiration and I look to him to learn as much as I can about how to create myself as an artist in the world. He is an example to me of someone who is open to the channel of creativity and allowing that to be his fundamental drive for what will come next. I trust him because he is connected to the source. His spiritual self. His fascination and yearning for truth and God throughout his career is what truly makes him great. It ultimately gives him more power because he is able to put full faith into that essence, which means he is not governed by any ‘rules’ we may subconsciously put on ourselves that stifle our expression. Hence his fearlessness. It is this fearlessness that he possesses and finds through his connection to God/Consciousness that makes him such a force of nature. The only thing is I just wish he was more open so we could learn from him. I understand the cryptic mystique of his persona and having to project that to the public, but I just think the world would truly be transformed is he was able to really share a lot of his secrets with us (specifically relating to the creative process, how to live ones life, his philosophies etc) – having said that though I’m sure he’s shared these things with those closest to him. But I guess it’s just my wish to be in the inner circle, or for the knowledge to be shared with the people. There was some vague mention that he would like to teach in some capacity when he was on Arsenio.. That would be something I’d be signing up for without question! Long live Prince!
I moved away from my family when I was 8 years old. My mother, who was very poor at the time, offered to buy me something to take with me. I picked the album “Purple Rain” (actually a cassette) While I was separated from my family I must have listened to that thing a million times. The song purple rain was particularly emotional one for me, but the entire album became a sort of a remedy for my sadness. I became so familiar with all the songs, I new every note, every sound. Due to that experience I came to think that Prince was the greatest artist ever, and I wouldn’t be happy until I could do what he does. (well, musically anyway)Long story short, Prince has been in my life since I was that young, and I purchased every album that came after that, It was like I grew up with some strange uncle that I never knew, he’s been such a musical presence in my life. I now have a studio of my own and I am able to make some pretty good music from time to time. I kinda owe my musical growth all to Prince so, yeah Prince is great to me.
I am specialized in Reggae Roots and African music….. I always knew that Prince is big but wasn t really listening to his music.Yes I saw movies and dvd’s and appreciated him a lot …..
Since I saw him at Stade De France in Paris 3 years ago (took flight specially from Brussels) , very close to the stage, I am a big fan and I love all the comments on this page!
2 weeks ago I took the plane specially from Israel to be at his 2 shows same night at Zenith PARIS and it was very emotional .
Prince Live is probably the best live act on earth !
Now I am listening to his music a lot too …..
It’s articles like these that Prince doesn’t need to read – he would probably benefit from listening to the most recent Arctic Monkeys record. He obviously isn’t writing like he used to and has hit a rut as a songwriter, producer and arranger