Prince On Kendrick, Kanye & Why Millennials Need Creative Freedom

[EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM "All Day, All Night, All Prince" by Smokey D. Fontaine]

Prince does appear as if like magic. Maybe it's his slender frame or the prototypical Prince outfit that he's never caught not wearing, complete with a pair of 3-inch man pumps that have defined so many of his rock star style moments.

"I wanted to say hello," he says making brief eye contact, grateful, it seems, for the successful orchestration of his entrance.

Part of the Prince mystique certainly comes from his speak-to-me-if-you-dare reputation, but if you treat Prince awkwardly, he will respond awkwardly. If you give him too many ooohs and aaahs and melt from the disbelief of being in his presence, then he will likely retreat from you behind a far-away stare and a few whispered, one-word answers.

But if you talk to him normally--and that's really hard to do considering all the times you've danced and cried and...done all types of things to his songs--a smart, funny, and super passionate music head will reveal itself. One who just happened to have written "Purple Rain" (and "Adore" and "Kiss" and "Joy In Repetition" and...)

"Can you imagine what would happen if young people were free to create whatever they wanted? Can you imagine what that would sound like?" Prince asks.

He tells Josh Welton, Prince's new 25-year-old producing partner, to play a song they had just been working on. Raw & unfinished, without any vocals laid down yet, the pulsing, electro stutter-step beat instantly knocks through the studio. My screw face comes on. Josh smiles. Prince continues.

"I mean, you can't hold something like that back! That's the sound of someone not restricted by anything--not the matrix of a record deal or a contract or a system that's not dedicated to the music... That's a sound that has to come out!"

Prince has heard a lot of music. He has written a lot of music. His recording career began when he was 18, already a gifted player of multiple instruments. He's performed for thousands of shows, toured the world over and over, sold over 100 million records, and changed the game more than a few times before rappers could even boast about such a thing. But here he is, in 2015, as passionate about a new song that he's hearing as ever.

A few years earlier, Prince simply told me "I am music." It was not intended as a cocky declaration, but more an attempt to try and acknowledge what consumes him, how he thinks, an effort to describe how his mind is somehow wired to notes and chords differently than the rest of us.


Prince is most comfortable talking about other people's music. Speaking directly to Josh and his assistant, he drops his appreciation for Kanye West's "Gold Digger" ("the way he made something new with that sample was perfect"), Jill Scott's "A Long Walk" ("every song on that first album was the truth") and Kendrick's Lamar's whole To Pimp A Butterfly album ("He just has something he has to say. It's pure. And with Thundercat on the album? Come on. You're not taking 'Alright' off my playlist!")

"But we have to make sure that young people also get to understand the masters. It's like when I played Sly Stone to Liane La Havas...she had not ever heard him yet. Then she listened and was totally inspired.

"Do you know who Rakim is?" Prince asks his assistant, dropping another history lesson. "You have to look him up. He was one of the greatest. Doug E. Fresh schooled me to him one day when he was telling me about hip-hop. When Rakim walked into a room, Doug E. said he was so good, everybody just went quiet."

Does that happen to you?

"Yep" he answers with a frustrated smile. "Everybody always stops talking or doing anything when I walk in! They say it's the artist who changes, but...I don't know, I really think it's everybody else..."


Read this entire essay & the full PRINCE INTERVIEW on MEDIUM here

[EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM "All Day, All Night, All Prince" by Smokey D. Fontaine]

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