Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prince and the Revolution

I have no shame whatsoever about being a Prince fan. Call me what you want, but I love his music with a passion. I always have. Ever since I was that 5-year-old kid who found his mother's vinyl copy of "Dirty Mind" laying on the coffeetable, I have been a major admirer of His Royal Badness. I think I probably have everything he has ever done: bootlegs, live concerts, unreleased projects, rarities, and just about everything in between. His music has pretty much provided the soundtrack to my crazy ass life. I can honestly say that I have seen him through many phases of his career -- from the "Rude Boy" to the unpronounceable glyph, and from "His Royal Badness" to being just Prince all over again. I've been to the concerts, got tickets to the films, bought a lot of merchandise, and have been a faithful supporter of the Man because I admire him so much. As he gets ready to drop his latest project "3121," there is something that bothers the hell out of me: why do people want him to return to the Prince of old?

To be real, I don't think I can get ready for the Prince of old. I have gotten so used to seeing him progress with the times that it would hurt my feelings to see him in a purple trenchcoat. With such monumental pieces of work that include "Purple Rain," "Parade," "Sign O' the Times," and "Diamonds and Pearls," I think it would be a slap in the face to see Prince try to slide down a pole like he did in the "1999" video. People change. The argument that I have made is the gentleman is pushing 50 years of age. He's not 25 anymore. When I went to the "Musicology" tour last year, I didn't go expecting to see him hump the piano or even do a split. I went because I knew that no matter what Prince would play, I was bound to see a great show. And I did. A few times he slithered around on the floor, but that was as raunchy as it got. Even he said that he respects the fact that people bring their children to see his shows. Gone are the days of four letter words and prancing around in his bikini briefs. I see that change. I have witnessed that revolution that unfolded over the years. The question is: why can't some people respect that and move on.

When you see Michael Jackson onstage, you know exactly what he's gonna do. You know that "Wanna Be Startin' Something" will be in the first five songs of his playlist. You know that he will perform "Billie Jean" exactly as he did on "Motown 25." You know he's gonna do that tired routine where he "cries" while singing "She's Out of My Life." He's predictable. The same can be said of Madonna. Here is someone who spent her career reinventing herself, only to fall victim to following everyone else's lead. With Prince, you never know what he's gonna do! Just when you think you're about to hear "When Doves Cry," he goes into "I Wanna Be Your Lover." Or better yet, he might do "Let's Go Crazy" but it will be in a completely different arrangement. See where I am going with this?

Artists have that tendency to change. If they didn't, the majority of their work would be crap because they quit challenging themselves. I agree with Nikka Costa who said "Prince has yet to scrape the bottom of his talents." I think there is that masterpiece that is waiting to be played in our CD players. He almost had us with "Musicology." We're talking about a man who has amassed a body of work that will go unrivaled in this generation's lifetime. No one -- not Britney, Justin, Usher, or Alicia -- will ever garner that type of catalouge that Prince has blessed us with since 1978. The industry is no longer set up to allow an entertainer to flourish like that. And people have the nerve to say they want the Prince of old?

Uh-uh. Look at it like this: Michael Jackson is still chasing "Thriller."