For decades, my bucket list included sharing dinner with two men from my generation — Michael Jackson and Prince would sit at either end of the table.
But I ain’t ready for that soiree any time soon. Both brothers have passed on, and I’m enjoying life all day, err’day!
Long before June was declared Black Music Month, the verses and choruses of our ancestors were right and relevant. The old Negro spiritual said “it would be a day of rejoicing when we all got to heaven.” However, it did not say we all had to arrive simultaneously. LOL.
That being said…
Prince would have been 65 this June. He was on my radar before his climb to fame, but I officially met his music at a disco in the late 1970s. He was sassy but classy. However, he had an array of “sweet nothings” to whisper to girls, an art that I had not yet perfected.
“Hey, lover, I got sugarcane…I want to lose in you, Baby, can you stand the pain? Hey, lover, sugar, don’t you see? There are so many things that you do for me. Cuz you are “Soft and Wet.”
My official reckoning of the “Prince Dynasty” occurred on a parquet floor under a colorful, pulsating strobe light. Prince Rogers Nelson was spitting suggestively and seducing girls using metaphors involving automobiles in his 1982 Billboard Top 100 hit!
“I guess I should have known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last. You’re the kinda person that believes in making out once, love ’em, and leave ’em fast.”
She was a Little Red Corvette. Maybe she was still driving Prince because he died at age 58.
The original “Fresh Prince” and I maintained a casual, some-timey relationship until Purple Rain. He gained my respect as a player. In a memorable scene, “The Kid” led Apollonia to a questionable body of water that she assumed was Lake Minnetonka. She went skinny-dipping in the wrong lake, realized she had been tricked and blushed with embarrassment. But nothing like the public embarrassment she would suffer soon after.
“I knew a girl named Nikki; I guess you could say she was a sex fiend. I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine. She said, “How’d you like to waste some time?” And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind.” Come back, Nikki, come back!
Syncopation, a hard beat, and an acid rock guitar solo drove Nikki. The hard guitar licks forced Apollonia to flee the night club in tears and disgust. The rest, as they say, was Negro history! Or was this Negro history?
Long before America fell in love with a handsome mixed raced President, Prince was a poster boy for the bi-racial wing of our race. But he went farther than that. Prince was culturally amorphous, gender defiant and maintained a racial duality and dexterity that made everyone comfortable with him to some degree.
After a courageous fight with his record label, Prince created a symbol to replace his professional identity. He became the “Artist formerly known as Prince!”
He was James Brown “Black and Proud,” with a side order of Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way.”
To many musicians, Prince was a carbon copy of The Godfather of Soul with better diction and a more expansive vocabulary. But he was also a more soulful version of rock legends Mick Jagger or David Bowie.
Prince claimed a doctrinal and diplomatic immunity that wouldn’t allow him to be bound by race, sexuality, or those who maintained music’s status quo.
Like Malcolm X, he chose to change his name rather than be a willing slave. That was his revolution…that’s when Prince went from promising to permanent for me.
So…”Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”
Don’t go crazy, but the man who declared, “I would die 4 U,” has left the building.
The sound doctrine, according to Prince Rogers Nelson, ain’t in the King James, but for many, it was straight Gospel.