Black Music Month: Somehow Five Years Later, Prince’s Death Still Feels So Surreal

In a tribute to his legacy, a die-hard Prince fan still finds a way to celebrate his music.

I grew up listening to Prince, and throughout my career, I have taken any opportunity to write about him and his music. I know that I am not alone in my admiration because his musical peers and regular folks alike talk about him and see him as one of the greatest musicians of all time. When guitar music legend Eric Clapton was asked, “What’s it like to be the best guitar player alive,” he responded, “I don’t know, ask Prince.” Even Miles Davis’ son Erin said that the Jazz Icon not only loved Prince but played the album Purple Rain on repeat. 

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He was the consummate musician. To this day, his performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 is still being dissected for its otherworldliness. And artists such as Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Janelle Monáe, Miguel, and Bruno Mars have been inspired by him. 

If you get the chance, check out his epic 2007 halftime show at the Super Bowl in Miami. Prince walked out on stage to an unprecedented downpour (organizers were reportedly told it hadn’t rained in at a Superbowl in 40 years) that didn’t phase him. Production designer Bruce Rodgers recalls when asked if he was okay to play in the rain, Prince responded, “Can you make it rain harder?”). He not only blew us all away with a medley of some of our favorites, but when he got to the end of his set and sang “Purple Rain” with the stage lit up in purple, it felt like the rain was a part of the act.

Furthermore, his fans aren’t just limited to singers and musicians. I am not sure how many artists can say that a blockbuster comedian like Chris Rock chose to honor them by naming one of their comedy specials after one of their songs, “Tambourine.” Additionally, Rock, who is on the current cover of Esquire, flaunts a love symbol tattoo which was not only the name of Prince’s 1992 album but also the unpronounceable moniker he used as he battled with Warner Bros over a contract dispute.

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I say all this to justify not just to you but to myself that Prince's music completely adulterated and intoxicated so very many of us. I wasn't and am not singular in my belief that Prince was the greatest. It all began for me when I first heard the words, "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life" from his song "Let's Go Crazy." It changed my life because music was no longer something I heard or simply got emotional about, but his music became the beat to which I walked, the therapy I leaned into after every defeat, and how I celebrated every event. I immediately bought all the albums that he ever released, including b-sides, limited releases, 12-inch, imports, and everything in between. 

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His latest posthumous album, Welcome 2 America, from his vault of yet-to-be-released music, is available for pre-order and currently ranked the No.1 release in the R&B category on Amazon. It will be available as of July 30. And, another single, “The Truth,” will be issued as a standalone release on June 12. His estate also recently collaborated with Urban Decay, and there is a makeup palette available that celebrates his music and creativity. 

Even though this may read a bit like hero worship, it really isn't. I have just never been so profoundly affected by the loss of a musician, but he didn't just play music; the instruments were a part of him. He didn't just sing; he created poetry that feeds your soul. I was lucky enough to meet him once, and I will treasure that memory forever. 

When Prince died, I remember not being able to grasp the information. It is still hard sometimes to listen to his music, especially the song "Sometimes It Snows In April," for obvious reasons as well as it was the song that was played in his 1986 movie and album of the same name Under the Cherry Moon when his character Christopher Tracy died. 

The man who was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, died from an accidental overdose from the opioid fentanyl at his home and studio, Paisley Park, on April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old. 

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