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Prince: A Short Entertainer With A Huge Legacy
Entertainment   Sunday, May 08, 2016   0 Comments
 
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I remember being a kid in the 80s and 90s and thinking that Prince was the weird one. It's because that's how the media portrayed him. He was hard to understand. Was he masculine or feminine? Why the elaborate costumes and high heels? Why the obsession with everything overtly sexual? What were those moans and screams all about? Remember those butt-out jeans? Those trivial things seemed to matter back then and the media soaked it up.

 

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While I'll spare you re-exposure to the everlasting nonsensical Michael Jackson and Prince wars (which was undoubtably created by the media machine, because Prince couldn't give a f____), by the time I really "understood" music, it was clear that Prince wasn't just the real genius, but the consummate virtuoso.

 

Sexy M.F. By Prince, 1992 | Source: YouTube

 

When I took a college class in music composition, my professor decided to be a douchebag and give me a project that required far more work than my peers in part because I have Perfect Pitch (the ability to discern notes on any instrument by name without any reference pitches or other assistance). While my colleagues had to just write out the melodies of assigned tunes to the best of their ability, I was assigned the task of writing out by hand the entire arrangement of "When Doves Cry" by Prince from the the guitar to the synthesizer solo, groans and every instrument in between  (an odd choice from a man who loved Classical Music and denounced everything else). When I confronted this professor about the reason for his choice, (a guy who played the piano for 30 years at that point, performed at Carnegie Hall and conducted professional Orchestras), his response was (and I quote), "because Prince is a f____ ing genius". Imagine a man 40 years your senior saying that (he had to be in his 50s at the time).

 

Tutorial On The Piano Solos In When Doves Cry By Prince | Source: YouTube

 

This was the late 90s and I was in my late teens. I knew most of Prince's hits and loved his music, but didn't really "get him" until this project. I became obsessed with his music shortly after. The man wasn't just another artist. He played 30 instruments with equal proficiency, had a five octave vocal range, could dance his ass off, directed movies, created genres, assembled proteges to market his sound before Hip-Hop moguls made it cool ten years later, and penned hits for artists in genres you'd never associate him with ("Manic Monday" by the Bangles, "Sugar Walls", Sheena Easton, "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor). All of this from a man standing at 5'2.

 

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His height was newsworthy. I never knew Prince was diminutive until I saw an Oprah interview where she apathetically called him out on it searching for insecurities (in fairness, she did that in a lot of her interviews, and Oprah herself had many insecurities over the years).

 

Oprah Interviews Prince About His Height And Its Effect On His Life | Source: YouTube

 

See, Prince's height did not matter. For those that it did matter to, they were crushed or left confused because he defied all short men stereotypes. I remember watching on YouTube an interview of Rick James where he mocks Prince's height by making a motion with his hands picking him up like a rag doll to put him on a chair, highlighting his small stature. The gesture was met with crickets by the interviewer.

 

Prince Rogers Nelson And Manuela Testolini: Wife Of Prince | ShortGuyCentral

Prince And His Second Wife Manuela Testolini | Source: Associated Press

 

Soft-spoken rather than confronting, romantically linked to some of the most objectively beautiful women in entertainment (married twice, engaged many times - Sheila Escovedo, Denise 'Vanity' Matthews, Patricia 'Appollonia' Kotero, Mayte Garcia, Sussanah Melovin to name a few), respected by the majority of his contemporaries (even those who didn't care for his music) and imitated by those who grew up listening to him both vocally and in arranging, he was a force to be reckoned with. His approval, like comedians on the long defunct Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, could make or crush those who sought it.

 

Prince's Epic Love Life | Source: CNN

 

The man's career spanned five decades. While he wasn't burning up the charts in the first decade of the 21st century with the same ferocity as his 70s and 80s heyday, he was still a musical juggernaut. Prince Rogers Nelson sold out shows wherever he went, was a frequent guest on talk shows, continued to capture the hearts of women everywhere (as evident on one episode of The View when Sherri Shepard throws herself at him), received critical acclaim for his 2007 Super Bowl performance and continued putting out albums on his own terms successfully, through his own channels.

 

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A shrewd businessman, critics and fans alike panned him for being overprotective of his art to the point of threatening legal action to any entity who posted his works on online without his permission; even fans. While it was completely within his legal right to take that approach as owner of his masters, many believe it cost him access to new generations of fans, a questionable move in the age of social media. 

 

 

Prince Critically Acclaimed 2007 Super Bowl Half Time Performance | Source: YouTube

 

To quote a famous talk show host who spoke about one of his own idols shortly after he passed away, it's very unlikely that we will see another man like Prince again in our lifetime. Standing shoulders below his peers, Prince was the epitome of androgynous masculinity. Blurring the lines in a way that Robin Thicke never could, he was unquestionably self assured in just about every facet of his character.

 

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He could wear makeup, expertly tailored and elaborate get-ups and still have women biting their lips, well into his 50s even. If you've ever heard any woman say, "but there was that one short guy I had the hots for", Prince was that man. He knew who he was and owned it. This is the same man who "made" Carmen Elektra change her real name (which was Tara) by saying, "You're not a Tara, you're Carmen". How Alpha was that?

 

Prince Rogers Nelson: Sexy M.F. Gif | ShortGuyCentral

Prince Pushed The 'Limits' Of Masculinity | Source: Warner Bros.

 

It's sad to see a legend go, but all good things must come to an end. For those privileged enough to see him live or grow up during the era where he was the guy to listen to, a man who changed the trajectory of popular music during an era where music technology was changing the way music sounded (synthesizers, drum machines) and how it was produced, you were truly blessed. If you weren't, kiss the stars that you're living in an age where his all of his art can be experienced with just a few key strokes or a couple of taps. You too are blessed. Rest in peace Purple one. 

 

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