This blog will take you two (2) minutes to read. This is equivalent to the amount of time that it will take for you to hit the snooze button and convince yourself that you really don’t want to work out tomorrow morning.
I found out that Prince died while I was sitting in a meeting (of all places). As I scrolled through my Twitter feed trying to get a handle on what happened, it hit me – I didn’t really know much about Prince. Of course, I remember, Purple Rain (both the album, song and movie). I was born in 1978 and my sister was born in 1969, so as you can imagine, I heard a lot of Prince in my youth. I knew he was unique, but I didn’t know much about him beyond the curls and ruffles.
For my sister (let’s call her Sonya, because, well, that’s her name), her Olympic pantheon of musicians consisted of Prince, Michael Jackson and New Edition. I can remember her crouching by the radio waiting for a Prince jam to come on.
With the anticipation that only an adolescent of the 80’s could appreciate, she would punch the “Record” button on our tape deck and make this squirrely yelp. In a pre-MP3/CD era, recording tracks from the radio was the prehistoric version of Spotify. If you could catch your song on the radio at just the right moment, then you could capture a hit forever.
My sister’s fascination with this Prince was a fraction of the worldwide love, awe and admiration for the weird kid from Minnesota. Why was he so admired (and misunderstood)? I tend to think that his “I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn-What-You-Think-About-Me-Because-I-Am-The-Best-At-What-I-Do” attitude had something to do with it. In appreciation for that public panache, here are some takeaways from the life of Prince Rogers Nelson:
Be You – I say this a lot, but no person better emulates the adage (“Be You”) than Prince. Here’s a man who dressed in pumps, skirts, had a nicer perm than Sheila E. and owned it. It’s so much easier to be you than someone else. Playing someone else’s part is tough because at some point, you’re going to forget the lines.
Be Prolific and Generous – Jamie Starr, Joey Coco and Alexander Nevermind. These are just a few of the alter egos of Prince. Prince penned hundreds of songs for himself, but did you know he was famous in music circles for writing songs and giving them away to other artists? One trait of genius seems to be a willingness to share creativity with others. I believe the great ones believe in this practice because they also believe in the unlimited bounds of their genius. It’s easy to give your creativity away when you believe there is a deep well from which to draw future creations.
Reinvent Yourself – In 1993, Prince changed his name to a glyph. He would infamously become known as the “Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” There are various theories as to why Prince made the shift, but the dominant view is that his disdain for Warner Bros. and a desire to start retaining more ownership over his portfolio of songs were the driving forces behind his transformation. Regardless of the idea’s genesis, it’s important to note that at some point in your life (whether it’s during your freshman year of undergrad or after your midlife crisis), it will be necessary for you to reinvent yourself. And yes, you can stay true to you by creating a new you with a different look and sound, but the same soul.