Today, we have lost a music legend, Prince. During the 1980s, he, along with Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Whitney Houston, were the soundtrack on an entire generation. His musical genius was, is, and forever will be unparalleled. His music blended several genres including rock, pop, R&B, funk, and many others. The immensely successful soundtrack to his movie, “Purple Rain”, sold over 25 million copies and continues to inspire artists. But his impact exceeds the arts.
He broke racial barriers. He was one of the first African-American artists to be heavily rotated on MTV (back when it stood for Music Television and actually played music videos instead of reality shows). He was not only one of the most popular black artists but also one of the most popular artists of ALL TIME. His success paved the way for artists like Beyoncé, D’Angelo, Miguel, Justin Timberlake, and Lauryn Hill.
He also flipped a metaphorical middle finger towards gender stereotypes. He wore clothing that was traditionally wore by women, wore heels & makeup, and he even did a song titled “If I Was Your Girlfriend”. Very risky for an artist during the 80s. But that was Prince to a T.
He also took no crap from his record label and stood up for himself, which inspired other artists to do the same. In 1993, during a feud with his record label, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol (mainly referred to the Love Symbol) and was sometimes called “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince”.
He also wrote songs about social issues. His late 80s hit “Sign O’The Times” talked about issues of the era (and some we still deal with unfortunately) such as HIV-AIDS, homelessness, drug abuse, and gun violence. He was aware of the issues in the world he lived in and he wanted to shine a light to them.
Not since the deaths of the aforementioned Michael Jackson & Whitney Houston have I seen an outpouring & grief like this. But it’s testament to his legacy, his talent, and the man he was.
And to Prince, thank you for the music. Thank you for sharing your genius with us. Thank you for the Purple Rain. We greatly appreciate it and we will forever miss & love you.