“If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you,” Prince interviewed by Rolling Stone in 1996.
Prince has died aged 57. A talented musician, multi-instrumentalist and fierce advocate for creative rights, Prince has been mourned overnight by fans, peers and politicians.
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) marked the passing of the Minnesota native, stating that Prince’s “artistry, innovation, and unparalleled presence inspired—and will continue to inspire—millions of people.”
Credited with inspiring the ‘Minnesota sound’, Prince’s music encompassed a range of musical genres from his early start in jazz, to funk and rock. He was an irrepressible innovator, releasing 15 albums over the past 15 years.
Prince was a lightning rod for controversy. In a time when black artists fought to appear on MTV, Prince’s song lyrics were frankly sexual, the singer parodying racist fears of black sexuality.
As a lyricist he was playful, demonstrating a quicksilver intellect. His early hit ‘1999’ opens with a rumination on the millenarian apocalypse, before seguing to the chorus So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.
The tension between Prince’s own religious upbringing and his championing of pleasure in this life runs throughout his music.
The latter-half of Prince’s career featured the artist – or The Artist – reeling from a lengthy dispute with Warner Bros over control over his music in 1993, to his decrying the internet for closing down avenues for musicians to earn a living.
Where young musicians attempting to crack the industry today make their work available for exposure, Prince refused to engage unless it was on his own terms. As he said in an interview with The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis “Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?”
Singularly talented and versatile, refusing to compromise his artistic vision, as the man himself once sang –
My name is Prince the one and only