For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about perhaps the greatest musician to have ever lived — Prince.
On April 21, the legendary singer passed away at his Paisley Park residence. Upon receiving the news, with tears falling from my eyes my first question was “Is today the day music died?”
Of course, music will always live on — but in the sense of music at its purest form, it’s possible that its death came in the moment of Prince’s last breath. No artist in the history of modern music took their art as far as he did.
With an ability to play 21 instruments, Prince was arguably the sole organ of modern music. Where the funk of James Brown and fury of Jimi Hendrix left off, Prince extended the spirit of both luminaries. He is undoubtedly the most influential artist ever.
Emotionally, his musical catalogue evoked every honest emotion the heart and mind have to offer. A proud black man, he never conformed to the boxes that were constantly placed on him, and he eradicated obsolete interpretations of masculinity.
While it was an unwritten rule for any man to not bring his female partner to a Prince concert (by way of the fact that you could possibly lose her to him), no male artist ever had more male enthusiasts.
Perhaps Prince’s greatest strength was his most humane; his uncanny ability to show all the sides that encompassed him. Whether it was his vulnerability in songs like “The Beautiful Ones,” his self-awareness in “When Doves Cry,” his concern with social unrest in “Sign O’ The Times,” sexual passion in “Adore” and the selflessness in “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” he always gave you something real that you could viscerally feel.
For a man that seemed so remarkably elusive, he was every bit as human as the next man and all of what every human should strive to be. His audacity was unquestioned. His fearlessness spewed from the sparkles of his stilettos. At five-foot-seven, his presence stood amongst the giants of the world.
Throughout his career, he was often pit against the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson during their paralleled reigns. While Michael sold and broke the most records, Prince was the rock star of the 80s. When Michael painted his canvas of an imaginary world, Prince provided a sense of authenticity that was both unapologetic and jarring.
Throughout his nearly 40-year music career, never once did Prince come off trite because he was the freest of them all.
When asked about the meaning of the song “Purple Rain,” he said “When there’s blood in the sky, red and blue equals purple… ‘Purple Rain’ pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith or God guide you through the purple rain.”
Thus, with the task of having to live in a world where Prince Rogers Nelson is no longer breathing, we will all need something to propel us forward the way he did for millions around the world.
I guess it is true, sometimes it snows in April.
Rest in Purple, Prince.
Staff Writer, Muktaru Jalloh
Muktaru is a senior double majoring in English and political science with a minor in media studies. Topic areas Muktaru enjoys covering include music, sports, pop culture and politics. // Twitter | Facebook