I could rationalize the deaths of iconic figures like Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson. With all due respect, they both lived rather controversial lives. They were two iconic figures who reveled in the spotlight. For better and for worst, their personal lives were on display to the entire world. We identified with them at times, and at other times we didn't know them at all. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston both had moments in which you felt bad for them. It makes sense because you feel bad for humans. Prince was a God. Prince was never supposed to die.
In 1978 Prince Rogers Nelson signed with Warner Brothers at the ripe age of 18, and released his debut album For You the following year in 1979. As a young man who didn’t get his own apartment until he was 23, it’s hard for me to identify with that kind of power at such a young age. I did normal stuff, like invite my friends over, and have Super Bowl parties. I got a dog, I walked it. Prince was a Platinum selling artist as a teenager, in the wild 80’s. He could walk humans. He had that kind of juice. He also went on to create some of the greatest music the world has ever experienced.
You see, aside from being one of the most gifted musicians the world has ever seen, Prince was also known for his vivid imagery using words. I remember my parents arguing because my Dad listened to Darling Niki while I was helping him set the table for dinner. Could you blame the man? The song is amazing! Prince did whatever he wanted. If he had a threesome gone wrong, and felt like sharing, he shared (When You Were Mine). If he was annoyed with gossip, (Controversy) he let it be known. Moments like Doves Cry, where he’s self reflective and vulnerable reminded us that Prince did indeed hurt. Songs like Baby I’m A Star, let us know that Prince was aware of how amazing he was.
For all of his vulnerability, and the IDGAF attitude expressed throughout his music, Prince was a rather private person. Unlike the previously mentioned stars, and most of his peers, there weren’t a ton of public meltdowns associated with Prince’s brand. He was seldom seen, but always felt. If you witnessed him behaving in a wild, uncommon way, it was almost certainly intentional and strategically planned. His live performances were legendary. But it’s the little known stories we’ve heard thru the grapevine, that enhance the mystic legacy and intrigue of the Prince Brand. The world wouldn’t believe Prince did mortal things like play Basketball. Prince. The man who regularly donned purple high-heels was out here serving Eddie Murphy’s crew triple-doubles and cooking the defeated muggles pancakes afterwards? Yes he was, beloved. God’s have no limitations.
Oh, and like every God, Prince transcended all things. He redefined masculinity, and gave birth to a generation in which a man could simultaneously identify with several things feminine, while still maintaining a very masculine assertiveness. Prince may have only stood 5 feet 2 inches tall, but what does height mean to a God who transcends? Prince was a black man, who wore blouses and permed hair, who slept with white, brown, yellow, and gorgeous black women, at a time when racial integration was still taboo. He did whatever he wanted. He lived however he wanted. And he used his platform to speak out whenever he wanted.
Another of Prince’s mystic qualities was his omniscience. As self-aware as he was, he rarely lacked an opinion on social issues. But his opinions weren't exclusive to his music. While presenting the Grammy for Best Album, At the 2016 Grammy Awards show, Prince, with the world watching said “Albums. Remember those? Albums, like books, like Black Lives, matter.” His statement was in reference to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, a social response that went viral on on social media after the George Zimmerman was acquitted for Trayvon Martin’s Murder.
Prince was refreshing because he was always himself. He never attempted to follow trends or do anything that he wasn’t comfortable with. He was genuine, and uncompromising. He set the trend. He reminded us all, at every appearance and with every spoken word, that individuality and self-love is the key to happiness. He was bold, like his father. Never satisfied, just like his mother. I guess this is what it sounds like when a God dies.