Artists like this don’t come around often, if ever. They just don’t.
Prince Rogers Nelson, the legendary artist known simply as Prince, passed away this morning at his iconic home, Paisley Park. Inevitably, the world has spent the day mourning the loss of this unparalleled artist and celebrating his career. While it would be easy to acknowledge his many (many) achievements, honors, and held records, what it all boils down to is that he was a bonafide genius. It’s a term that gets thrown around a little too easily these days, but Prince is the true epitome of the word. “Genius” isn’t at all common, constricting, or even explicable. “Genius” is like a rare, precious gem, and Prince was just that. His talent was boundless, peerless, and often indescribable. Prince Rodgers Nelson was the personification of the word.
It’s not necessary to pick through his countless classic singles and albums; these things were immortal classics long before his passing. It’s far more worth acknowledging that Prince not only wrote all of the songs, he arranged them, he produced them, and more times than not, he recorded every part. Every. Single. Part. There was seemingly no instrument he couldn’t master, no genre he couldn’t tackle, no subject he was afraid to breach, and he did it all better than everyone else. Truth be told, he could go toe-to-toe with the greatest guitarists of all time, Hendrix included. On top of it all, he could crank out this incredible music at an unfathomable rate. As the story goes, he crafted the legendary “When Doves Cry” overnight. The about-40 studio albums he released in his lifetime truly are the tip of an immense iceberg.
When all is said and done, the hits will continue to be played, the albums will continue to spin on turntables, and his influence will continue to spread; that’s all a given. More importantly, though, it’s important that we remember how vital of an artist he was to the world we know today. How he helped breakdown racial barriers and gender stereotypes. How he fearlessly juxtaposed themes of sexuality, religion, love, and politics and seamlessly strung it together. How he exemplified a work-ethic that artists still can’t match to this day. How he fought for artist’s rights, almost single-handedly, against the Goliath labels. How he lived and breathed his art. When all is said and done, Prince spent his career changing the world. There is no artist to exist since his emergence that doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude in some way. When all is said and done, he is one of the most lauded artists to ever walk the face of the earth. When all is said and done, Prince’s legacy is one of genius.