PRINCE / “Don’t Play Me”

Digital & Electronic Music Organization, Inc. ( announced its latest round of digital music sales awards and recently issued ten certification awards. There were two major first in digital music history. Gwen Stefani was honored for being the first artist in music business history to achieve digital music sales of 1,000,000 plus for a single, “Hollaback Girl.” Prince, the Minneapolis-based musical genius, was honored for achieving album sales of 1,000,000 plus for his four CD set album Crystal Ball, the very first album to achieve such a monumental sales plateau via the Internet. —December 2005 press release from the Digital & Electronic Music Organization
prince 03.jpg Back in 1998, after Prince finally got out of his contract with Warner Bros., he released a four-CD set named Crystal Ball (3 CDs of outtakes, one ‘bonus’ CD of new material). That same year, Prince sat down for an interview with Black Entertainment Television’s Ed Gordon. During the interview, Gordon made mention of Crystal Ball and implied that its sales figures—at the time, around 100,000—must surely be a disappointment, especially when compared to the millions of copies of each release Prince had sold while at Warner Bros. Prince hastened to disagree, explaining that while he received something on the order of 10% of $10.00 or so (the wholesale price of a new CD) under his contract with Warner Bros., he pocketed between 85% and 95% of the wholesale price of Crystal Ball, depending on how he sold it. “You know how much Crystal Ball goes for?” Prince asked Gordon, who indicated that he did. (It was selling for around $50.00.) Then came a priceless moment where Gordon, having done the math in his head, realized that the little man sitting opposite him was in the process of cashing out what amounted to a winning lottery ticket, $40.00 at a time. Seven years later, Crystal Ball had sold a million copies. That’s right, $40.00 times one million. Do the math on that. Hidden in the hours’ worth of material on the Crystal Ball set, was a tune named “Don’t Play Me.” In a way, it’s Prince’s “Belle,” his farewell song to fame. But the differences between the songs point to the different circumstances under which Al Green and Prince decided to check out. Al left near the height of his popularity. He also left knowing that he was leaving a lot of money on the table. As a minister and a gospel singer, there was no way Al could make even a fraction of the millions he could make singing soul and he knew it. Prince’s situation was different. He’d peaked in popularity years earlier. Warner Bros. was no longer willing to advance him $10,000,000 per release, as they’d typically during Prince’s lucrative post-Purple Rain years. But Prince also had an ace in the hole, one that wasn’t available to Al Green—the internet. Prince knew, if he could only get full control of his name and his music, that he could make more money than he ever had before, even while his popularity remained at levels it hadn’t dipped to since back when he was a wide-eyed, afro-wearing guitar prodigy. Listen to “Don’t Play Me” and you’ll hear none of the wistfulness of “Belle.” The latter tune sounds like Al recorded it with one eye on the Lord and the other still focused on everything he was leaving behind…the money, the women, the notoriety, the fame. On “Don’t Play Me,” Prince isn’t wistful. He’s pissed off. He’s also supremely confident…as you might be if hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world were insisting on Pay Pal’ing you $49.99 for something that cost you only a few dollars to make and only a couple more to ship. prince 05.jpg “Don’t Play Me” is a series of accusations set to melody. It’s a list—all the reasons that, in Prince’s mind, his music doesn’t ‘get played’ on the radio anymore. There’s a double entendre at work too. For those not familiar with American slang, “don’t play me” means “don’t fuck with me.”
I’m over thirty and I don’t smoke weed I put my ass away I use proper English and I’m straight I’m the wrong color and I play guitar
The thing is, while each accusation has the ring of truth, each also obscures Prince’s own complicity. Meaning, in order to “put [your] ass away,” wouldn’t you have to have been showing your ass in the first place? And wasn’t Prince always the wrong-colored guitar player? And didn’t he used to intentionally play coy about both his indeterminate racial background and his ambiguous sexual orientation? And what’s with the underhanded knock on hip-hop? (“I don’t smoke weed”/“I use proper English.”) Didn’t Prince used to employ a rapper in his band and hasn’t he cut a few rap-influenced tracks himself? That said, I know where Prince is coming from. The music industry makes the bulk of its money as a result of the efforts of the young and eager ‘developing artist.’ After all is said and done, those newbies often end up clearing pennies per CD sold. The industry makes the least off of the older and wiser ‘mature artist,’ the ones with an established fan base and, more importantly, a history of being fucked by the industry. So when Prince says that he can’t get his records played on the radio because he’s old and he’s no longer willing to pimp himself, best believe it’s true. Of course, Prince doesn’t mention one of the other reasons his songs don’t get played anymore—taken as a whole, they just aren’t as compelling as they used to be. One of the reasons for this is Prince can release anything he wants as often as he likes. And in all likelihood, there’s always someone around who’s going to tell him that it sounds wonderful. Hell, there might even be someone at Paisley Park whose job is to hang around the studio saying stuff like, “Boss, you sound great today.” In other words, there’s no quality control. And maybe there shouldn’t be. What’s wrong, Prince asks, with an artist recording whatever he wants to record whether it be hit-bound or not? Buy it if you want it, he argues. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Simple enough. If your hardcore fan-base is a million strong and if you get to keep 90% of the profits, that business model can work for you. If, on the other hand, you’re getting pennies on the dollar, well…. Let’s just say you’re gonna be needing that next hit. prince 01.jpg If “Don’t Play Me” was just bitter, it wouldn’t be as telling a record as it is. But there’s more to the record. Hidden between the accusations and recriminations are other reasons—maybe even the real reasons—that Prince was pulling away from the music industry. “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” Prince sings, “And it ain’t what you say.” And, “You couldn’t pay enough now to make me feel like a star.” The problem with fame is that it can give you everything you’ve ever wanted, but it can’t give you a damn thing you actually need. It must be a cold and lonely feeling to have every material item you’ve ever wanted and still feel like there’s something missing. It’s enough to drive you to drink. Or in Prince’s case, to God. Near the end of “Don’t Play Me,” he drops this one on us: “The only fame is the light that comes from God and the joy you get to say His name.” A couple years later, when it was announced that Prince had become a Jehovah’s Witness, I can’t say I was surprised. —Mtume ya Salaam Bonus tracks: A few of my favorite songs from the Crystal Ball box set—“Sexual Suicide,” “Last Heart” and “Calhoun Square.” * The range is because Prince would get the bigger percentage from direct-to-consumer internet sales while getting the lower percentage from sales to music chains who have to distribute and resell the CD.           Crystal ball????         
When he came out to do the long-expected "Purple Rain" for his encore, he added a line: "Say you can't make up your mind? I think you better close it and open up the Bible." The crowd may have to shrug it off, but Prince meant every word. "There's certain songs I don't play anymore, just like there's certain words I don't say anymore," he says. "It's not me anymore. Don't follow me way back there. There's no more envelope to push. I pushed it off the table. It's on the floor. Let's move forward now." —Prince, quoted in Newsweek id/4660051/
prince 06.jpg I got a crytal ball / but I can’t see a goddamn thing / seems like the older and wiser I get / the dimmer my eyesight be / what good is a crystal ball / if you going blind / what good does it do me to see what the future look like / if I’m leaving my sight behind? You think Prince ever had laser surgery on his eyes? Or maybe he wears contacts, a different color for each day of the week. (I hear he's up for hip replacement on account of wearing high heel boots and doing strenuous dance routines.) I’m just funning around / don’t mean no harm / but I can’t help wondering when Prince the man is going to step forward and give the Peter Pan gig a rest. I continue to wonder when 40+ year-old pop stars (Janet Jackson's new album ought to be called 40+ instead of 20 - something) are going to make music for and about grown-ass folks who got teenage children who are as old as the audiences these used-to-be-young popsters are still courting. One of the beauties of jazz that has always impressed me is that the older musicians were not only revered, in many cases they were the masters and on any given night could and did cut heads and gave out lessons to young lions who thought the grey heads might be easy pickings. prince 04.jpg I think the promotional and exploitation of youth culture is what keeps today's music from maturing. For most of us, the reality is that our youth is maybe ten to fifteen out of fifty or sixty or so years we live and not necessarily the most interesting of our years. Is it really so empty to be forty or fifty that you have nothing worth music-ing about? Al Green left the money. Prince went on to make more money. Neither one of them is satisfied. What does that tell you? But hey, what do I know? Al Green just might like constantly rationalizing why he reprises his soul singer days even as he professes that he is a minister of God? And I wonder what the folks down at the Kingdom Hall think about Prince’s recent work, for instance “Black Sweat”? I remember the first time I heard someone in the industry refer to the music as product, as in so-and-so has new product coming out next week. I was confused, I thought they had a record with some music on. After I heard the release, I realized the industry person was right: the record was product and there was precious little music on it. Mtume, those are just some random reactions to your write-up about Prince; as for the music, I was tired of hearing it before I finished listening to it the first time. —Kalamu ya Salaam           Based on what?           Baba, what in the world are you talking about? It's one thing to not like something ("as for the music, I was tired of hearing it"). That's cool, to each his own. But what's with all the other stuff? "Neither one of them is satisfied." Based on what? I don't think Al's intention was to never sing a pop song again. I think his intention was to step away from the spotlight. To stop being 'the ladies man.' As far as I know, he's a full-time minister and an occasional soul singer. How does that contradict anything he said on "Belle" or anywhere else? If you're hip to an interview where Al said he'd never sing soul again, let me in on it. I admittedly don't follow Al Green that closely. I love his records, but I don't know anything about how he feels about his spirituality vs. his secular career except what he actually says (or sings) on his records. As for Prince, I don't recall him saying anything about quitting the music business or not putting out pop songs anymore. As you quoted him, what he said was, there are certain subjects he doesn't sing about anymore, certain words he doesn't say, and he wants to move forward. You say, "I can’t help wondering when Prince the man is going to step forward and give the Peter Pan gig a rest." What are you basing that on? How many Prince records do you listen to? For that matter, what does "the Peter Pan gig" mean? Do you mean to imply that Prince caters to kids? Have you been to a Prince show lately? If the median age of Prince's current audience is under 35, I'd be shocked. Prince's audience, for the most part, is all grown up and frankly, his subject matter has grown up right along with his audience. I've been listening to Prince records since I was old enough to consciously listen to anything, and I can tell you that there is an obvious and distinct difference in the types of songs he would sing about relationships in 1980 ("Dirty Mind," "Head") versus what he would sing about in '87 ("Slow Love," "If I Was Your Girlfriend," "Adore," "Forever In My Life") versus what he would sing about in '96 ("Soul Sanctuary," "Dreamin' About You," "Let's Have A Baby," "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife") versus what he sings about lately ("The One," "She Loves Me 4 Me," "Call My Name," "What Do U Want Me 2 Do"). I'm not saying the later songs are better. I'm saying they're very, very different. You can almost tell the differences from the song titles alone. The 1980 songs are about sex, period. In "Head," Prince is even making fun of the whole concept of monogamy and marriage. By '87, his relationship songs were much more focused on monagamy and maturity, although he still wrote about sex too ("Hot Thing," "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man," etc). "Forever In My Life" even begins, "There comes a time in every man's life / When he gets tired of fooling around." Most of Prince's music of the time reflected that idea. (I said, most. Certainly not all.) By '96, many of Prince's love songs were obviously being written to a specific woman, his wife. There were barely any songs that were focused simply on sex. That trend has continued through his divorce (or is it his second divorce...I'm not sure). I don't know whether Prince is married right now or isn't, but his songs are still very obviously about one woman and are leagues away from the type of sex song he used to revel in. Again, I'm not criticizing songs like "Head" and "Do Me, Baby"—I love those records. I'm just responding to you knocking the man for a lack of growth or maturity when I'm just about positive that you don't have any idea whether or not his music has matured or hasn't. Maybe you're basing your comments on what you've seen in popular media, but as we all know, that's not a good way to gain real understanding of anything. If I'd learned about jazz that way, instead of from you, I'd be listening to Kenny G. records right now. One more thing. Not that I'm trying to defend Janet Jackson—at this point, I'm not sure that a good defense is even possible—but that album title (20 Y.O.) is a reference to her twenty years in the music business. It doesn't have anything to do with her age. —Mtume ya Salaam      Tomatoes / Two-mah-toes       Even if you had been brought up on Benny Goodman (the original Benny G.), I doubt you would dig Kenny G. Second, you're right, there is no defense of Janet Jackson. Third, you're right I don't listen to enough Prince to make an intelligent assessment of the whole body of his music. Fourth, I do read interviews and check out clips and videos. I heard him dabbling in the jazz realm and thinking because they play a little swinging ditty that he's doing jazz. I don't buy it. Literally, have not heard any post-"Sign of the Times" Prince music for which I was willing to pay money. I think he's still trying to produce pop hits and it's just not convincing. Yes, he's extremely talented but what is he doing with it? By the way, have you watched the Prince Las Vegas DVD on which he has a horn section featuring Maceo Parker. Weren't you the one telling me Prince doesn't like horns? So why make a DVD featuring a band with a horn section if you don't like horns? I really, really would like to hear Prince create and record music that reflects the current position of his head and heart. And if you argue he is giving us what he really wants to give us, then I think my Peter Pan opinion stands. As for Reverend Green, check out the documentary DVD "Gospel According to Al Green." I enjoyed reading your rejoinder but I remain totally skeptical (which probably says as much about me as it does about Prince et alla). —Kalamu ya Salaam

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4 Responses to “PRINCE / “Don’t Play Me””

C. Liegh McInnis Says:
October 23rd, 2006 at 12:00 am

As always, I enjoy the dialogue between Kalamu and Mtume because of the insightfulness and because it reminds me of the hours of discourse between me and my father about art and politics. I started to cut and paste my comments on “Don’t Play Me” from The Lyrics of Prince but Mtume did such an excellent job, why reinvent the wheel or flap my gums just to show what I know.

As for horns, during the Purple Rain Tour (1984), Prince began using two saxophone players, Eric Leeds and Eddie M. (Eric Leeds is the brother of Alan Leeds, former James Brown tour manager.) So, prior to 1984, Prince was not interested in horns because he felt, as most young people do, that he needed to establish himself apart from the jazz music of his father. However, since 1984 Prince has toured with a horn section, though he still, from time to time, also plays stripped down sets with his Power Trio—guitar, bass, and drums. Check the 1987 Sign “O” the Times DVD where he uses Alan Leeds and trumpeter Atlanta Bliss. By 1992 he was touring with a five piece horn section—NPG Horns.

My only issue with Mtume is that the 1980s songs are not purely about sex, as Prince, himself, asserted as early as 1981. For Prince, sex was a metaphor that he could use to explore and examine human psychosis. That is, our sexual behavior says a lot about who we are. If you check the records from Prince (1979) to Sign “O” the Times (1988) very little of the sex that is happening in those records are because of sexual attraction. In most cases, the sex is being used or misused as a way to address loneliness, to heal pain, or to gain power or control. This is seen most clearly on 1999 (1982). In “Lady Cab Driver” too many people were focusing on the lady moaning and did not listen to what he was actually saying. He provides several reasons whey he is having sex with this lady, and attraction and being horny are not included. And by Sign “O” the Times there is a more mature version titled “Dorothy Parker.” This all culminates on Lovesexy as the sexual orgasm becomes a metaphor for being touched by God. You may not like it, but the people who say that they did not see Lovesexy coming (damn is that a pun?) were not paying attention. And ultimately, from 1980-1988 Prince was one symbol of the post-integrationist Negro grappling with his pseudo freedom and how that affected his identity.

“Peter Pan”—that’s cute…I guess I’m one of the kids who bought into the rhetoric of individualism as a religion and the notion that a metaphysical journey is more important than a physical journey, which is what ultimately separates Prince’s aesthetic from Hip Hop, although issues of money, fame, and sitting in the one seat at the table that the man has reserved for the Negro flavor of the month were also issues that Prince had with Hip Hop. As for his “Peter Pan” image, Prince is a dandy in the truest sense of the word, much like anybody else whose attire is a reflection of their philosophy. There is a reason why the Black Panthers dressed the way that they did. Prince’s physical image/imagery is a direct reflection of his desire to break the chains of cultural control. Eventually, all of our physical is merely a reflection of our internal and metaphysical desires or directions, no matter how misguided or mis-educated. Maybe Prince does spend too much time with his physical image, but I agree with Carlos Santana that Prince is one of the greatest guitar players to ever walk the earth and he has to do a strip tease to get noticed. And when B. B. King goes public and says that Prince is the guitar player that he wants to work with next, then clearly his image is not overshadowing his talent for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

The greatest thing about Prince, besides his talent, is his desire to push himself in different directions. A Prince record is a kaleidoscope of music, and he is an encyclopedia of music. This is why in 1987 at the age of 17 I knew that I would not be listening to much radio when the greatest criticism of Sign “O” the Times was that there is too much music on it??? Damn, I didn’t know that being eclectic was a negative thing. However, the most difficult thing about being a Prince fan (I’m not going to try to use some scholarly term to substitute for fan) is that Prince doesn’t give a damn about what his fans, the industry, critics, or naysayers want. And I am saying this purely from a fan’s standpoint. Unless you can just enjoy the ride without having to be told where you’re going, Prince is a trip that most folk can’t take. But nobody touches more subjects and musical areas as effectively as Prince. I think about revolutionary poets who don’t write love or erotic poetry. That’s just limiting to the human experience. To paraphrase Pepe Willie, the man credited for helping Prince develop as a song writer, whether it is about love, sex, God, or incest, Prince’s songs resonate on a deeper level because at the core of his work is an artist determined to analyze what makes us what we are and what we can do to become more than what we are—to realize that we are souls first and bodies second. And he was saying this as early as the Dirty Mind (1980) album.

As for whether or not Prince’s latest music holds up to his early music, that’s too subjective to address in any empirical manner. One person’s Lovesexy is another person’s Purple Rain. (I think that Lovesexy is the third greatest concept album ever, behind only Stevie Wonder’s Secret Life of Plants and Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear.) And for me to argue whether or not Emancipation (1996) is the closest thing that comes to the diversity of Songs in the Key of Life or whether or not Musicology (2004) is a funky record would be like arguing about what a stop sign says. I’m looking at the stop sign. I can read.


      Mtume says:     

Mr. McGinnis is right about Prince’s songs that are "just" about sex being about a lot more than sex. I was taking a shortcut to make a point. In my opinion, Kalamu and I were having a disagreement about Prince’s image, about what Prince’s songs appear to be on the surface. There’s no way he and I could have a serious debate about what Prince’s songs "actually" mean because Kalamu doesn’t listen to Prince’s music on that level. The point I was trying to make wasn’t that Kalamu should listen on that level, it was that, if he’s not going to listen on that level, that’s fine, but he probably shouldn’t attempt to seriously critique a subject (in this case, Prince’s music) unless he has a least a working understanding of the subject. So since Kalamu seemed more focused on Prince’s public persona or image than on his music, my response was just dealing with that: how has the obvious, surface-level imagery and subject matter in Prince’s songs changed over the years. (Kalamu seemed to be arguing that it hadn’t changed.)

As for whether or not songs like "Lady Cab Driver" are "just" about sex, back when I was in my early twenties and had the both the free time and the stamina for ontological discourse, I and my roommates would set up camp in our crappy little kitchen and engage in hours and hours of debate on questions such as, "Lady Cab Driver – Whore or Heiress?" The conversations would go all night and in the end, we’d learn as much about ourselves and our beliefs as we did about the intricacies of Prince’s music, but I suppose that’s what ontological conversations are all about in the first place. And of course, most of us were drunk and/or high. Which helps.

joe gumbo Says:
October 23rd, 2006 at 10:54 am

Wow! I’ve been reading (& deeply admiring) your site from day one… and it never ocurred to me that Kalamu would not be into Prince! I’ve been gently nudged in the direction of some powerful artists by you both… so let me recommend Prince’s overlooked ‘The Rainbow Children’. NOT a jazz album as it’s always mistakenly labeled, but a beautiful soul/jazz/gospel fusion that manages to be moving even if you don’t share his JW faith.

Kiini Says:
October 23rd, 2006 at 11:47 am

“Lady Cab Driver – Whore or Heiress?”

LOL!!!!! Hilarious. That is a disturbing song for sure.

Well, I’m probably just as ignorant as Kalamu is on topic of Prince’s recent music. And that is saying a lot b/c I can sing damn near every Prince song from Lovesexy back to the beginning. I haven’t heard much since Lovesexy (yes, there was ONE song here and there) that seemed to move me, so I stopped listening.

Just to briefly weigh in, I think that the question of artistry, depth, and heart in music (and maturing artists) is an interesting one. What does it mean to come from an authentic place as an artist? What does it mean when you start sounding like a derivative of yourself? Isn’t that what happened to Stevie Wonder? His new sounds–like Prince’s–seem to be parodies of the old sound. The subject matter may have changed, but the sound, just doesn’t seem to be evolving. Whether Baba (Kalamu) is right or wrong about Prince not changing, deepening, maturing as an artist, I think his reaction is valid on an emotional/instinctual level and it is based on something very real.

I will confess that I couldn’t name even the Prince albums, much less the songs, that have defined post-Lovesexy Prince… but it seems that there is something that is stuck on repeat, or is not generating real depth, or is not discovering new expressions, or something. Baba may be wrong technically, because, yes, Prince has been experiencing growth. However, there is something that’s does not appear to be blossoming in Prince’s music. Maybe if I took the time out to listen, I might be able to put my finger on exactly what it is.

C. Liegh McInnis Says:
October 23rd, 2006 at 9:25 pm

As I’ve grown, I’ve tried not to make sweeping statements, but I think that at the core Prince’s imagery seemed to be for many coming from the black power or Africentric movements a smack in the face at all the work that had been done to liberate African people from the chains of whiteness and the low self-esteem or out right self hate that came with living under the umbrella of whiteness. My father use to say that Prince seems to be too intelligent to perm his hair and walk around in high heels. And this all seems to be connected in some way to the notion that the man who proclaimed, “How you gone get respect when you ain’t cut your process yet?” eventually went back to conking. So, I can definitely look at Prince and see where his physical imagery may rub some people the wrong way, which would keep them from exploring his art. And I’ve often wondered what my not seeing the homosexual or homoerotic in a man wearing legwarmers, high heels, and mascara said about me.

And Mtume is dead on about not engaging in extended or in-depth discourse on a subject in which one is not fully versed. My knowledge of Hip Hop as a culture and rap as an art and artifact of that culture is very surface; therefore, I always decline to be on local panels about Hip Hop because I don’t listen to enough of it to render any serious discourse. Sure, I understand that it is another example of African genius as well as a socio-political reaction to the Reagan Administration, but I can’t say anything about the nuances of it so I always decline to be on panels that discuss it. But when Mtume talks about ontological discourse being as much about self discovery, then I realize that my lack of interest in Hip Hop says something about me. I just don’t care what it says, but I should since I engage freshman and sophomore college students on a daily basis.

But Prince’s lyrical and musical subject matter have grown, and yet there are often moments (at least one song) on any recent album of twelve tracks where it is obvious that Prince is making a half-hearted attempt at addressing what’s on the radio simply because for him competition is an innate part of artistry. But the dude who wrote Lovesexy and later Musicology or even 3121 is a much more mature and searching writer than the due who wrote Dirty Mind though each record serves its purpose in his journey. But, then again my perception may be warped because my father probably should not have taken his ten year old son to see Prince open for Rick James.

In a final discursive thought, I’ve learned not to shy away from Prince’s physical persona/imagery because it is innately a part of who he is because he is an artist who has so completely given himself over to his art so that for him every part of his life is a part of his art. To paraphrase Eric Leeds, former saxophone player, Prince’s closest friends are viewed more as their instruments than as human beings. Kalamu would not be a person to Prince; he would be a drum set. So, every aspect of his life is a part of or plays service to the art. Of course it helps that he made a lot of money early so he could do this and not worry about having to get a 9-5 or go to the grocery store on a regular basis. Still, I used to wonder how or why his dress or behavior would rub people the wrong way. A cousin of mine would always say, man can’t he get off his trip of self indulgence and faggoty fantasy and just play the damn guitar?!? And this always baffled me until I was first introduced to Life Jennings. I love Jennings’ first cd, but I can’t listen to it because between every song he rambles about prison and street life, and I find myself saying, “Man, shut up and play the song.” And I know that this is an aesthetic/cultural/pseudo-class issue where I don’t care about his life or his sensibilities, I just want the jams. And yet I think that I am smart enough to know that the art comes from the culture, is a direct reflection of the culture, and not wanting Jennings to talk about his life or wanting him to separate his life from his art makes me no better than white people who want black art without the culture that creates the art. Yet, it was at that moment that I understood what so many people had been saying to me about Prince. I know that this does not directly address what Kalamu was saying, but when Kalamu raises the question of when will Prince tire of his Peter Pan fantasy he is definitely speaking to what he sees as both a waste of talent and a perversion of the black aesthetic. And I’ll end here before I get into how both Prince and Michael Jackson were the white industry’s answer and co-opting of Stevie Wonder’s success with Songs in the Key of Life.

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