Spoke to my mother yesterday. We can’t discuss Prince without breaking down. And I’m staggered by that, by the ways one artist can love and be loved across generations.
And feeling like: “There’s more to come from them, there’s more genius to come.” More for us to be blessed with.
MJ belonged to black folk, but he also belonged to everyone.
Whitney belonged to black women, but she also belonged to everyone.
Prince belonged to the freaks. He knew we were sacred and profane, and therefore we were holy. We were the Beautiful ones
I’ve been light on reading or engaging think pieces. I need time. I gave myself permission to sit with it all for seven days–seven for one of my favorite Prince songs in high school. My friend and colleague Delia suggested nine. A novena. And to the Catholic in me that feels right too. I’ll read all of the think pieces after nine days.
But I did read one.
In “Prince and the Black Girl,” Lisa B. Thompson wrote:
“Yes, I was enamored with raucous sensuality and loved the thought of rocking and rolling. I decided to dance on the edge of proper girlhood and Prince provided the soundtrack. His Royal Badness, the Purple Playah granted me license to feel all the things I wasn’t suppose to feel and want all the things I wasn’t suppose to want—in the dark and in the light too. All the things. He celebrated the black body in song with lyrics that rang out with a witty ecstasy that spoke to both my intellect and passion.”
When I got the news of Prince’s death, I went to his Instagram. Most people on social media started posting 1980s, Purple Rain era photos of Prince. But Prince wasn’t a nostalgic memory to me or to any of us. In my own sadness and denial, I didn’t want to lose sight of how present he was, how playful and irreverent. He’d performed on stage a week ago. He’d dropped a video/track for Baltimore on YouTube and made his entire catalogue available to the public on Tidal. He’d finally gotten his masters back.
And he’d hopped on social media (Twitter in 2013), posting selfies, playing around with Twitter and Instagram, all while well aware of his own purple mystery. He was determined to curate and own his image. And he was determined to have fun.
I mean…his first selfie on Twitter was “PRINCE’S FIRST TWEET… TESTING 1, 2…” and —
Sitting on the phone speaking with friends, all of us trying to make sense of the information we were getting, I went for a ride in Princestagram in memoriam:
He died at 57 and he still dgaf. He was still making new music, playing with new (digital) vernaculars. Still shady and still royal.