On April 21st pop royalty left this world. The creative and gender-bending Prince Rogers Nelson, popularly known as Prince, left the world. A quick Wikipedia search on this icon led me to his other names – “His Royal Badness” and the “The Purple One”… yes. While the media gives some pop stars relatively bland names (like, well… JB), Prince was given “His Royal Badness”. Not surprising, when we recall that this eclectic artist once kicked reality television royalty, Kim Kardashian, off stage when he asked her to dance, leaving her awkwardly flapping about. Prince left a legacy of entertainment, unique style, and beautiful music in the wake of his passing.
Born into a life of music, with a father who made a living out of playing the piano and a mother who was a jazz singer, it’s no wonder that Prince would eventually drop his last names and establish a legion of loyal subjects solely with his voice. Here’s the thing though – Prince was not born to parents who ever pushed him to be successful. He was, however, born to parents who ALWAYS pushed him to be happy. His father stated in a 1991 interview, “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to have everything I didn’t have.”
Perhaps this is what set Prince apart, even today when we have good looking, well marketed pop stars popping (see what I did there?) out of the ground. Prince was never really concerned about making a statement. That was what was so glorious about him kicking the attention-hungry Kim Kardashian off stage – he didn’t kick her off stage to make headlines or to be the subject of a vastly entertaining meme. He kicked her off because it was his stage, and he didn’t want his stage crowded with an awkward reality television star who was more worried about herself than about having a good time. He did what he had to do to be happy. His father later admitted to getting lost in the rat-race of life, to reaching a certain age and realizing that he’d literally forgotten his dream, that he had forgotten what made him happy. Prince set out to find what his father couldn’t – he set out in the pursuit of happiness.
And happiness he did find, in 1975, when the band 94 East was formed and Prince was a part of it. Like the other recently deceased genius, David Bowie, Prince bent gender norms with his love for glitter, make up, and delicate style. 94 East was when the artistic side of Prince truly took over. Some would call this his feminine side, but here’s another reason I love Prince, (his humble beginnings, kicking Kim Kardashian off stage, and being a general musical genius are the top 3) – Prince was an extremely male, but yet, quintessentially female artist. Confused? Well, Prince dominated the music world as a male artist; HOWEVER, he also had us questioning our ideas of ‘male’.Prince never claimed to be a gender binary artist, or to be even slightly confused about his sexuality or his gender. He was a straight male who had an affair with Madonna while embracing his feminine side. He became a beacon for the queer community, simply because he exemplified the fact that gender is a socially created concept. He created a new identity of the successful male, devoid of muscles and overbearing testosterone. I could go on about his music. We’ve all heard his unique, voice and synth beat production. But I’m writing this tribute to Prince not because I fell in with his music, but quite simply, because he left behind a better world, simply by being himself.
‘Goodnight, sweet prince’, said Horatio as he bade goodbye to Hamlet in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. Horatio mourned the loss of Hamlet, a man who stuck by his beliefs through and through. Centuries after those words were penned, we lose Prince – a man who taught us how to live, even in his death.