The death of Prince imploded the internet. Prince fans scrambled to Spotify and YouTube to find that nearly none of his songs were available to listen to online. The servers crashed for some of the Prince fan-sites and info-sites due to overwhelming traffic. And everybody mourned publicly on social media over the passing of one of our common heroes. The generation of heroes is dying off.
Prince’s greatness has been expounded to an infinite degree. No piece of writing in tribute to Prince, or seeking to explain his genius, could ever come close to touching the brilliance that was Prince. A virtuosic, genre-defying, gender-bending, racial-bridging magnificent wonder is the basic gist. He came ripping on the scene as a teenager, like he was already pre-packaged. Watch this video of a live performance in 1982: straight from the chapters of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. How could this kid have the audacity to believe he could do such a thing?
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Prince was innovative, musically and culturally. His music melded elements of funk, soul, gospel, jazz, rock, and disco to create an aggressive new pop sound. He knew the joys of restraint-study his guitar playing or the way he withholds the climax of a song. He toyed with gender, like Bowie or Eno.
He presented his non-white body in an elegant and desirable manner, taking lessons from photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. He sang about sex with women of all racial backgrounds. Beware dad, the black man is coming for your Ashley. Old tropes, new tricks. At the height of Reaganism, he spent his career foiling the music industry. They can’t find a will for his $300 million dollar estate. It’s like one last "Fuck You", I can still do what I want. They say there is enough music in his fabled vault to release an entire album every year for the next century. He probably locked it up for a reason, presumably not meeting the perfect Prince standards, because his standards were perfect.
Everybody has some personal connection to Prince, whether it’s through his music or as an actual person from his past. Who am I to write about his death? I can’t imagine what it’s like to mourn his departure for those who had a personal relationship with him. It’s speculated that he died of a drug overdose due to opioid addiction. Overdose deaths hurt. A tragic condition of the modern human. Not even Prince was invincible to it.
We’re fortunate that he blessed us. Hopefully, when his jewel of a soul is sucked up into the netherworld, fragments are cast unto us mortals. Withdrawn from the ship of time he reigns down his sparkling purple sound waves, in which we are to revel.
Sam McAlilly lives in Oxford, Mississippi. He sells books and designs graphic promotional material for books. He wishes to escape the dumb Mississippi lawmakers but the rent is cheap and Oxford is a good spot. Sometimes he writes.