Before I post this message, I would like to say that I am not going to bitch and whine about the new format of the website like some people are doing. Instead, I will do what I normally do; contribute posts and topics that are fitting to the subject onhand. Hopefully, good topics will be added to this site soon, and the mood will change from being an awkward one to a more comfortable, compatible one. Anyway, I was just wondering what people think of the popular eighties musician Prince. For a long time, I considered this man's music to be terrible, which I determined from hearing just one or two songs of his career, and I thought that he was a good example of the blandness of popular music in that decade. However, this all changed about two or three months ago. One night, my two younger sisters, my mom, and I were eating dinner, and we somehow got on to the topic of music. I was talking to them about how incredibly lame the Grammys are (this was a couple of days after the events were held), and I also said that Beyonce Knowles and Prince did a duet during the ceremony. My mom then proceeded to say, "Oh yeah, I like Prince...what do you think of him?" I responded by saying that I hadn't heard much material of his, and I wasn't too interested in him, but that he did seem talented. Our conversation then ended, and dinner finished up, but I had become interested in his music. So, I then listened to a compilation album of his that my dad owns, and my viewpoint of him was totally altered. I think that Prince is one of the most innovative African-American popular musicians of the last twenty-five years. He completely revolutionized the genre of rhythm and blues music with his methods of self-production and his creative musicianship and song arrangements. Honestly, I believe that Prince was to the eighties what Jimi Hendrix was to the sixties. He was just as groundbreaking in the concepts of his music. It is possible that this opinion of mine could be wildly different in the future, but this is the way that it stands as of now. This past week, I received Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind in the mail and was absolutely stunned. Almost all of the instruments and arrangements on this album were performed by Prince himself, when he was only twenty-two years old. The album also contains some of the most sexually explicit lyrics in the history of rock and roll, with songs about threesomes, oral sex, and incest. It is obvious that this is a controversial album just from looking at the cover and some of the song titles. The cover features Prince wearing black bikini underwear, with a wall of bedsprings behind him, and a button upon his jacket, declaring that he is a "Rude Boy", and two of the songs, 'Head', and 'Sister' are completely self-explanatory in their titles. It is no surprise that Prince would be used as a primary example in crusades to censor music in the eighties. With material like this, one can also tell that Prince wasn't afraid to be groundbreaking in his ideas, no matter how far out they may have been. Going back to my statement that Prince redefined rhythm and blues music, this sounds completely different from anything else in the genre. While most of Prince's music retains elements of funk and R&B, he also incorporates synthesizers, unusual instrumentation, and a punk-like attitude into his sound. While some other soul musicians were deep on a spiritual level, Prince's music was both soulful as well as utterly unique and imaginative. Some of the best examples of this aforementioned quality can be heard in Prince's most popular songs. Despite its dismissal of a bass-line, its lack of melody, and a bizarre drum machine pattern, 'When Doves Cry' from the album Purple Rain, is probably the most well-known, respected piece of music of Prince's career. In a recent issue of Rolling Stone, in which numerous popular musicians of the last fifty years are profiled and discussed, the writer of Prince's profile, Ahmir Thompson, quotes, " 'When Doves Cry' is one of the most radical Number One songs of the last twenty years." I couldn't agree with him any more. Two other songs that fit this quality are '1999' and 'Sign O' the Times' (both of which are featured on albums of the same titles). '1999' has several clear synth-pop influences, most notably in its relentless rhythm, and an irresistible, repetitive keyboard line. The melody of this song is also a powerful force, of which I feel obligated to return to repeated times. 'Sign O' the Times' is far darker, with a mechanical, ominous keyboard line, and lyrics like: In France a skinny man Died of a big disease with a little name. By chance his girlfriend came across a needle And soon she did the same. At home there are seventeen year-old boys And their idea of fun Is being in a gang called The Disciples High on crack, toting a machine gun If you were like I was, and don't take Prince seriously, I would encourage you to look into his music again. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rewards you may reap of it. Of the work of his that I've heard, I have been nothing less than amazed.