PRINCE + THE AFTER LIFE
by Jeremy Danté
unrestrained, and in creative control; the life, legacy and career of prince is transcendent. beyond genres, generations and even mere identities, sonically he was just as much of an experience as he was a living breathing artist. a lyricist, and multi-instrumentalist- his career spans over three decades, and much of his influence seems to only scratch the surface of what will come to be many, many years from now. in the league of legends, now passing, prince, i will say; is among the most criminally underrated, and yet his influence knows no bounds or limitations. a legendary original, without compare or compromise.
escapism at it’s finest, the early years of prince, born prince rogers nelson in 1958; seen him honing his skill set and playing multiple instruments with a band in high school. before his record contract signing, record executives often mistook prince as an entire band, since his wide ranged vocal abilities and multiplied use of instrumentation in production appeared almost impossible for one person. signed by warner brothers at 17 years old, and was originally intended to work with maurice white, of earth, wind and fire. since the beginning of his career, prince was adamant about creative control. and always took every effort to be at the forefront of his creative process from start to finish. he excised such passion though full force production of his musical recording sessions and in his stage shows as well. throughout his challenging of culture and reformation of musical genre bending pursuits of expression, prince’s catalog became so intertwined with the musical experience that they were fixtures within our cerebral cortex. it’s the type of influence that is cultivated through several elements, that tie memories, senses and beauty together all in one musical microcosm. as i sit here and write, the more words i pour into this space, it seems unfit for the experience.
among his expansive discography, words do not to the influence of prince much justice. he existed in a world that peaked through sexual exploration, artistic eminence and domination of creativity. what prince did was create music. among his influence and even his many proteges throughout his career and beyond, spawned were many others who were also touched by his influence. a true marker of R&B evolution through use and application of jazz, blues, rock and pop magic- there is no other artist who has or will exist within the purest forms of inspiration like that of prince. notoriously shy, opinionated and strong- prince’s legacy has yet to be revealed. among the many wonders he always left unanswered, with his death, many may recall the speculation of ‘the vault‘; a secured arsenal of music, that has never been heard by the public.
prince, in his early days in minneapolis, was referred to a younger stevie wonder. conceptual in nature, many of the concepts in which housed each of his musical projects, themes were of great importance to him. since the late 70’s the vault reportedly houses upwards of 2,000 unheard and unreleased songs by prince. an actual vault, which is located at his minnesota estate, holds these records; and many fans through the years have wondered when all of this music will be released. notorious for his mystique and desires for privacy continue to keep us wonder up to today. is it possible that prince has planned the posthumous release of all this music? before digital, many have questioned whether the vault and it’s musical treasures will remain preserved or if they are planned for release. time will tell, but it seems as though, even today, with the expansive musical offerings we have, and have heard; production elements were lightyears ahead, innovation at it’s finest. his recording process has reportedly seen him producing one album per week, a process he had already implemented well into the 80’s. his compound, paisley park, houses the vault and was his main residence where he created music.
a revolution of incredible influence, i cannot say this enough- prince crosses all borders of gender, sexuality and artistry. a pioneer for creative control, and an opinion which has shot past many others, in the realm of industry. the story, for me and many others, of prince- is not now, nor will it ever be over. i offer you the opportunity to not read into my interpretation of who this artist was in life, but to think about it, originally, and understand the cultural impact of his work; and to listen to the music, to come to your own opinion of what he has created. of beauty, prince remains untouched in his curation of experience through sound. through sound, his penetrated emotions, and was able to resonate through memories that have always kept him timeless. this will not change in death.