The first time I heard 'Do me, Baby' I was too young to truly understand what it meant but I knew it was everything I wanted one day. Sitting in the back of my mom's car listening to the local Dallas, TX R&B station I heard Prince for the first time and started to try and understand the concept of doing someone. Because according to him it could be the most amazing thing anyone would ever do. So of course I wanted to figure it out. I never asked my mother cause I didn't think she knew anything about it or else she would be on the radio singing about it. So I wanted and need more of this Prince fella.
This started a love affair with what he considered music which calls to my soul in ways most people can't understand and a few know all too well. Love is sometimes a taboo subject for young poor dark kids. Mostly because all the love we see in media is usually not dark. Prince taught me what love could and should be. I became fascinated by his vision. It wasn't till I was older that I truly understand what was the most engrossing thing about this artist. Prince taught me to accept me. No matter who I find that person to be.
When you grow up and you have a very keen understanding from the first time you become truly consciously aware of yourself that you are different life gets harder. We have a culture obsessed to a painful degree with fitting in and staying in your lane whatever in the hell that means. And when people step outside of the bounds of where everyone thinks they belong they get shunned. It’s the functioning act of society. Provide the human interactions that we need to feel whole or deprive them from those who buck the system.
When I first saw Prince I found him to be beautiful in a way that I had never seen a man achieve beauty. He was glorious, fashionable, wore heels and just glowed. He showed attitude and sass he was everything any young girl would want to be. But he was intensely male no matter what else he had going on. So he then became who any girl would want to be with. It was a perfect moment of the yin and yang energies of masculine and feminine existing in the same being. It was the first tangible understanding that the concepts of male and female are a myth. A structure we put into place to maintain the status quo. When you realize that is a lie you begin to question everything and then you begin to rebel.
Freedom looks beautiful and Prince embodied that in every way. But it was beyond freedom. His freedom was unique because its core was identity. It’s not till you get much older do you recognize what that beauty is. Prince was a man that didn’t' challenge identity and gender roles to be controversial or as a gimmick. He challenged them because he refused to let them define who he was and how he expressed his art or lived his life. He lived as he needed to in order to bring clarity to his art to his life to his unique vision. He was an alchemist who took the elements around him, reshaped them and reformed them to become something we had never seen and realized in that instance we should have never lived without.
What he became for me was a catalyst to a crucial understanding for every human walking this earth. Of all the things that can be bottled, copyrighted, co-opted, stolen, renamed, identity will always be yours. The unique aspects of your life and being that make you who you are is the only marketable skill any of us will ever really need. The art is driven by the artist, not the other way around. Your art is not your vehicle to success, you are. And how well you reveal yourself defines the success of your art.
I consider his death a wakeup call to the conformers and those on the fence. The ones trying to fit in and emulate others to achieve fame and fortune. Greatness is only gained from great risk and there is no greater risk than true unfiltered exposure. The reason he was able to be prolific after decades of work is that he never had to figure out where to go. The art was never in control, he was. The art didn't live in its own space to be pulled from and used. He was the art. People can remake his music, they can offer tribute they can mimic his style even take his name. But they will never capture the essence of what made him great. That is a journey that each artist has to make for themselves.
If you take nothing else away from the death of an icon understand his beginnings. He was ridiculed criticized and maligned. But he never stopped his journey because it didn’t matter what you or anyone else thought. His work was never about impressing you. His work was about expressing him. His story is a living breathing testament to faith beyond all else. To trusting the higher forces because they have entrusted you with this life and this time. This place. Stop counting. He never counted. It doesn't matter when just do it. Like the man said, Do me, baby. Like you never have before. Which really means do you. Make the journey. Find it, embrace it, put your foot in it. Pick it up. Pick up that pen, that paintbrush, that script, that microphone. Pick up that axe.
And now my favorite Prince moment of doing him: