22 Apr Prince: The Legacy of The Purple Reign
“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.”
They say that destiny always plays a part in the lives of those we cherish the most, and that is likely the case we have in Prince, a multi-talented enigma that personified the word ‘artist’, taking it to levels that will be admired and copied generations from now.
In a time where it is difficult to be singular and simultaneously radiate, Prince was one of the few performers able to do it over the entire course of his career. How many artists of note were able to convincingly juggle pop, R&B, funk, rock, disco? Not many. A musical jack of all trades, Prince could regularly be heard on his songs playing all the instruments. Not to be boastful or ego-trip, but because it was obvious there was sheer joy in what he was doing and that was what catapulted Prince to an echelon few artists can ever attain.
Pushing the boundaries was something Prince constantly did, as he straddled the line between analog and digital, old school and new world order. When many artists in his league were releasing one album every few years, Prince proved to be an enigma, putting out seemingly album after album, and then teasing us with talk of vaults of music that would possibly never see the light of day. But we liked the tease, because we always knew that when Prince teased us, he always delivered. It was the climax we could always sonically count on.
The words ‘true artist’ are not used often because these days, it seems as if everyone is angling for the next shot, the next chance to be seen and heard – all talk with no substance. But Prince was a true artists in every sense of the word and hopefully, his legacy will be to reignite the music industry and art in general to be more authentic, more genuine, and more revolutionary.
“The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can.”
As versatile as Prince was, he still continued to mystify to the very end. His skill set was so immense that it was little wonder he was so prodigious in production, churning out music all the time in his own kingdom, the fabled Paisley Park. He could be lascivious and downright nasty at one end of the spectrum, and then turn on a dime to deliver full-throttle, sugary sweet heavenly falsetto the next. With a range so broad, it would have been a shame if he had been silenced, as was attempted by his record label Warner Bros., over twenty years ago.
In a move that changed the music industry forever, Prince took on his record label when other artists were afraid to, paving the way for new laws that continue to protect artists to this very day. Prince demonstrated to the entire world what ‘show business’ truly meant. By defiantly railing against the machine, a windfall led to more performers taking more control of their artistic direction.
For the consummate artist, his is a career worth researching, dissecting, and ingesting, song by song, album by album, performance by performance. Every one of them has something to teach. As one of the beautiful ones, Prince was cagey with his personal life, stingy with whom he shared his immense musical gifts, and dodgy when it came to pinning him down to any one genre. Simply put, he was beyond categories, boxes, labels, and the entertainment world finally got it and learned to sit back and watch the show. Because with Prince on stage, you already knew…
There was going to be one.
For all of the awards and recognition he garnered over the years, it was evident from early on in his career that Prince had nothing to prove and so he didn’t. He was not motivated by the Grammys, the #1 Billboard singles, the Oscar – he was ahead of the bell curve in that regard and it served him well over the course of his illustrious career. Prince had his eyes squarely on the prize: longevity and relevance above anything else. Of course, when commercial success knocked on his door, he answered in singular style, but even in the years when he was not the flavor of the month, he was always worth the lick. He gave back to the very community he thrived in – nurturing, mentoring, and anointing talent that thirty years from now may be able to have a seat near his throne.
The Purple Reign will never truly end.
The artistry is slowly dying in art these days and as more performers turn to social media and other artificial means to reach their fans, Prince demonstrated that a true, long-lasting, indelible impression is more impactful through the chords, through the notes, through the voice. These are elements that Twitter, AutoTune, and Facebook can never surpass. As we stumble towards a new digital era, Prince has forced us to reflect on what true musicianship and showmanship is and how we must fight to sustain it.
As one of the most innovative stars to ever bless us with his artistry, he will be missed. But he left us with enough music to last to 2999, so let us rejoice in that. Prince will always be referenced, he will always be relevant, and he will always be remembered.
“ A strong spirit transcends rules.”
And luckily for us, he broke them all.
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