2016 got off to a ruthless start. Claiming the lives of countless legends – the type you’d think of as being immortal. For me, Prince was one of them. With a falsetto like no other, a riveting elegance that makes your hairs stand up, and sheer bona-fide individuality. Prince is a soul that changed the sound of music forever.
Prince reportedly passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning at his home, Paisley Park, in Minnesota, just days after being released from hospital after suffering from the flu.
It doesn’t matter if your entry point to Prince was through rock, jazz, hip-hop or pop, he was the undisputed champion of originality. Consistently releasing hits over the years and seamlessly navigating from rock to pop, R&B to electronica, Prince’s unruffled attitude permeated through every stroke of his artistry.
The dude played and composed all 27 instruments on his debut album with a sense of craftsmanship that would go on to inspire countless numbers of those who came after him. (I can’t even name twenty-seven instruments.)
His audacious personal style asserted an unmatched level of respect and reverence that will remain in his legacy. Prince’s androgyny confused some, empowered others, but most importantly marked a visibility in rock music that many people didn’t want to acknowledge. His fluid sexuality was not the focus of his art, but played a huge role in shaping some of his most memorable lyrics.
Prince was only an enigma for those that couldn’t comprehend the perfect elements that constituted his identity. A black man who wore heels. A black man who unapologetically challenged gender norms. An artist who refused to fall a victim to the digital age of music – so naturally, he removed all of his music from streaming services bar Tidal (the only artist-owned streaming service). A rockstar with a potty mouth, turned devout Jehovah’s Witness who grew to despise profanity.
Prince wasn’t someone to be baffled by. He was doing the things many other people wanted to be doing but didn’t have the drive, courage or capacity to. He changed his name to a symbol and wrote “slave” on his face as a public display of his relationship with label Warner Bros. Last year, he protested for Ferguson and Freddie Gray. Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, and was still releasing music despite his disdain for the unavoidable current age of digital music piracy. As fans, we tend to idolise stars, who are ultimately mere mortals. But this one lived up to his name every step of the way.
An artist to the end. Prince, we salute you.