If you know anything about Prince, you know Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, or any of about a dozen other 80s funkadelic hits. What many don’t know is that this guy was prolific. His ever-expansive creative drive may or may not be ultimately what sent him to an early grave, but it sure as hell saw to it that his life was rich and full while he was around. He released 40 albums in a 38-year time span, and had a secret vault (you heard me) where another 80 or so albums’ worth of never-released music was discovered upon his death. It may take a die-hard fan to tell you that he was good for way more/deeper/bigger genius than the mainstream generally promoted (i.e. masterpiece piano, soul, and jazz albums). He could play 50+ instruments (so, any instrument) and voice powers ranged from his signature falsetto to lesser known throaty ballads and even rap. The versatility of his music could only have come from a man spinning versatile magic.
Here I’ll invoke a few telling lines in Prince’s We Can Funk, circa 1990, off his album Graffiti Bridge:
That about sums it up for me.
“Listen, I said I will be your little baby
Yeah, I can be your big strong man
I can be your girl or boy, I can be your toy
Alright, let's dance.”
Standing not-so-tall at 5’2, some might say Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) was an over-achiever in the Napoleonic sense. Small man, big moves. He was born poor and had a lot to lose, yet always seemed to recognize what was at stake should he betray himself.
Prince made it okay to simultaneously embody the following identities: cis, hetero man; black man; tiny man; alpha male; slut; feminist; husband; sexual renegade—to name a few. There’s not enough time in this life to get into all the ways he was. But one thing’s for sure: in both his music and his life, he broke the rules—even when people said it would not be lucrative to do so,and that he might sacrifice popularity, which was sometimes true.
Although he later started covering up more as he evolved as an artist and a human, the one constant that I find truly mind-blowing is how, through it all, he remained a) exceedingly confident, b) hot and manly, c) very popular with the ladies.
Just as he pissed off many a record company for trying to box him in or weigh him down with labels, he also bit his thumb at society’s gender and sexuality conventions. It’s clear from his actions, his wardrobe choices, as well as his daring lyrics that Prince embodied a manhood so secure that many were convinced he was gay, or at least bi, but he never bothered to correct them; manhood so secure it could be swaddled in lace and spandex and still be hetero hot.
Here’s to hoping the funky one’s having a good after party.
Moral of the story? Don’t betray who you are, ever, and don’t think that just because you’re a man, you can’t get really colourful, creative, and skimpy with your attire if you feel like pushing the envelope—or the package, as it were.J
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