Prince's wink, playful smirk, mouth-drawn guitar solos, unexpected turns of phrase, flamboyantly original style and his all-encompassing other-worldliness will never be duplicated. He lives forever on a purple plain unto himself; elevated even higher by his unexpected death at the young age of 57. He was a legend before he even passed. He never seemed to age which only amplified the shock of music fans around the globe last April upon hearing the tragic news.
"A body has been found on the grounds of Paisley Park." That was the breaking news story I read on Twitter. Against all hope, I knew it was Prince, and my mind immediately time traveled back to 1977. It was late summer and I'd been outside playing. I ran inside to ask my mom something. She wasn't to be found. After a short search, my brother and I found her in the bathroom. The door was locked. In a wavering voice, she said she'd be out in a minute. When she opened the door, we could tell she'd been crying. She said she was okay. She looked anything but okay. Eventually, she told us Elvis Presley had died. Growing up, Elvis was a very big deal in our house. So, I sort of got it. But I was really young, Elvis' death was a bookmark in my youth. As a kid, you always remember the times you see your parents cry.
I didn't really understand my mom's crying until April 21, 2016. It wasn't that I was the biggest Prince fan out there. It was the realization and coming to terms with the huge void created by Prince's death. I imagine that's how fans felt when Elvis died. There just aren't any artists like Elvis or Prince. They are a singular, explosive outlier of talent. No other creates the music they created or blankets audiences with the charm they exuded. The music they produced had such a distinct sound, they were their own genre of music. So, in addition to mourning the loss of the man, we mourn the loss of an entire category of music. Admittedly, Prince's newest music has been hit or miss for me. Usually, I would like/love only a few tracks off each release. But still, with every release, it was great to hit play with the anticipation and hope of something new and great, something incredible that harkened back to the glory days of Purple Rain or Sign O' The Times, something that could only be created by the artistry of Prince.
We will be deluged with unreleased tracks, B-sides, live recordings and remixes from Prince's vault for years to come, but fans know there will never truly be another new Prince album. We've been grieving that fact and the man since last April. Prince was an enigma. Respected by everyone; even those who didn't get him nor listen to his music. People who claimed they didn't like Prince would shake their head and say things like, "I don't like how he dresses. I don't like his music, but... he's a talented little bastard". I asked my friend Andy, the biggest Prince fan I know, "Who's next? Who are you listening to now?" His reply was simple and honest, "No one's going to fill Prince's size fives."
We all know that's true. No one is going to fill Prince's size fives. But in order to try and help Prince fan's move on, even if it has to be in a different direction, with a new ear, here are some younger artists I've discovered lately who remind me of Prince...in a way. Let me be clear: THERE'S ONLY ONE PRINCE. But some of these artists would feel right at home in a Paisley Park recording studio. Some have the sound while others emit the attitude. Prince said it himself, "The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger. That's what's missing from pop music today. There's no excitement or mystery."
I think Prince would like these artists, and I like to imagine him sitting up in heaven wearing a big pair of circle shades and a set of headphones, maybe holding a golden scepter (it just seems like he should), nodding along to some of these songs; Embracing their mystery, excitement, vision and love of the music. The pain of what's gone forever is a part of life. Our pain honors those we've lost. But, I'm sure Prince would say the music should never stop. Find a new groove to dance to. After all, music is what makes life...electric.
Anderson .Paak :: "Come Down" :: @AndersonPaak
Curtis Harding :: "Freedom" :: @Kirk_Underwater
Ro James :: "Permission" :: @RoJamesXIX
Childish Gambino :: "Redbone" :: @donaldglover
Andy Allo (W/ Prince) :: "We Can Love (Alt. Version)" :: @andyallo
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears :: "PTP" :: @blackjoelewis
Nylo :: "Sirens"
The Hour :: "No One's Going To Heaven"
Bruno Major :: "Easily" :: @MrBrunoMajor
...The Last Drop