Although heartache is setting in, we’d like to take a moment to appreciate the depth of Prince’s work and celebrate his life. In an MTV News podcast special, we reflect on the politics of Prince’s music, his strong sense of self, and how he shaped our lives. Take a listen.
Jamil Smith on Prince’s influence in his life:
It’s the people who give you the permission to be weird who you tend to miss the most, because these are the people who really shape you more than even family or friends … He and Jimi Hendrix were my pathways into rock music … I felt like what they personify is how important it was to be a free black man, and for me that was invaluable.
Doreen St. Felix on legends:
I think that there is a category of legend that transcends time, that transcends generation, that transcends age. We put Prince in that category. We put David Bowie in that category. We put Michael Jackson in that category. And I want to point out that in each of these instances, these people were still producing [when they died].
Jane Coaston on Prince’s strong sense of self:
Prince was never just him and his guitar. It was Prince and stilettos and 27 instruments and a production crew and assless pants and all sorts of things. He made it OK to be difficult and excessive and just be who you were in a sense … he opened for The Rolling Stones in 1981 and showed up in a bikini brief and got booed offstage and was like "Eh, OK," and that’s kind of amazing that someone can be so themselves.
Alex Pappademas on "Batdance":
Everything that was important about Prince is somehow contained in "Batdance." All of the borders, all of the hard lines that we understood between rock and funk and soul and jazz, between sexuality and spirituality, and between Batman and the Joker — he never met a distinction that he didn’t refuse to acknowledge. He’s a comic-book hero. He’s a comic-book villain.
Wesley Morris of the New York Times and co-host of the defunct podcast Do You Like Prince Movies?, on finding Prince as a kid:
Once I figured out that he was for me, he was really for me … I was just like, yeah, this is another way to do this. This is another way to be a black artist while not forsaking your blackness but expanding the sort of limited understanding of how blackness works. He was obviously Jimi Hendrix. He was also George Clinton. He was also to some extent Bill Withers, Bette Davis. All those things are in the music, but they’re all synthesized through him. I wasn’t lost as a kid in any particular way, but I definitely felt found with him.