First, let me state that this space is, was and always will be a Prince-heavy zone, so pardon me for writing on such a rich topic two issues in a row. Second, after losing David Bowie within the same short calendar year, the following topic has been covered before. That said, I can't think of two bigger influences on the blurring of art/fashion/music/sex/God than those two giants. So it must be asked: Who wouldn't be here in our "Pop Life" if not for the presence of Prince?
The sensual balladeer. Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and Isaac Hayes all crooned before, but none of them worked in straight up SEX and respect like Prince. With a few verbal strokes, he made you feel safe, special, aroused and dirty. Real dirty. Acts like D'Angelo, R Kelly and Janet Jackson would all play with these factors, especially in the '90s when a ballad could still get airplay.
The fashion plate. While he wasn't always in vogue and his outfits bordered on tacky in later years, he did stick to a consistent style, designing his own looks with his own fashion house. Seemingly hundreds of acts have gone on to work their personal looks into fashion lines, but none have committed 100% to these looks for 40 years. Think about it, we'd have no Mark Anthony for Kohl's or Adam Levine for Sears without Prince. Wait, is that a good thing?
The sexual enigma. Like Bowie before him, Prince was happy to play with queer sexuality at the expense of his heterosexuality just for the sake of equality. Now it seems there's a star every week ( usually women though ) teasing their sexuality, sometimes for press, sometimes for real, but always for good in the end. Now if we could only get more men like Nick Jonas flirting with our community, I'd be happy to be flirted with.
The independent warrior. Before bands like Radiohead, TLC and Wilco went rogue by skipping the major label system, Prince was selling his side projects via 1-800-NEW FUNK and then, after his Warner Brothers release, via his record club or his website. He even once presented a free CD with purchase of a magazine ( Twenty10 ). He was always playing with new ways to get his music directly to fans, not just for the bigger margin and masters rights, but because he became so bored so fast with completed songs.
The multi-instrumentalist. Little Stevie Wonder amazed fans at age 12 with his ability to jam on keys and harmonica, but Prince took it further, playing almost every instrument on almost every album he released. Sure, he had many bands over the years, but 90% of the studio instruments heard are him, with some help from horn players, vocalists and strings. Even at 16, when he started, everything was Prince right down to production. Now thousands of bedrooms recorders like Moby and Miguel spend weeks recording and producing their own material on their own terms. Even Bowie spent much of his last weeks tinkering with new material he planned to release posthumously. If not for Prince's own studio, drive, ambition and talent, we'd not have thousands of vault recordings to last us through our natural lives as well.
Let's hope these discussions and the subsequent listenings inspire great new artists to rise forth and inspire us; however, none will compare 2 Prince.
DJ Moose spins Irresistible Bitch: Prince+TheLadies this Saturday at 11 pm at The Jackhammer Complex, 6406 N. Clark St.