Prince: So long you sexy motherf*cker

Thandiswa Mazwai

(Singer and musician)

What is your favourite Prince album and song?
Favourite album is hard to decide. I like Come (1994), Controversy (1981), Diamonds and Pearls (1991), Sign o’ the Times (1999).

Favourite songs: Little Red Corvette, Thieves in the Temple. I loved the Prince love songs like The Dance and The Question of You. When I was a kid I couldn’t believe Cream. Obviously Diamonds and Pearls. Purple Rain. Sexy MF.

I love the “nasty’’ music he made too, on albums like Come – songs like Loose, Papa, Dark and Orgasm. Just sitting in front of my computer looking at all 17 albums I have.

Describe the meaning of Prince to someone who doesn’t know his music.
Prince was the funk, the nasty, the cool, the black, the freak, the one who didn’t give a fuck, the romantic.

What does he mean to you as a musician?
As a musician, he represented true creativity, which I think is an artist’s most important attribute.

How has his musical repertoire influenced yours, if it has?
I love funk. So all the funk musicians influenced me … from George Clinton, Soul Brother Number 1, Prince, Earth Wind and Fire through to Fela who had some of those elements.

Did you ever see him live?
Never seen him live. It’s a sad day but at least us freaks still have Grace. Long live Grace Jones.

Nikhil Singh

(Musician, author and filmmaker)

What is your favourite Prince album and song?
I’m not crazy about Prince, though I always liked Cream, Get Off and Kiss. It’s off-topic, but I also have to add that Stina Nordenstam’s cover of Purple Rain is one of my favourite tracks, due in part to producer Ian Caple. In the end, though, I suppose I was more of a Vanity 6 fan. In a way it’s kinda poignant that he and Vanity died so soon after one another.

Describe the meaning of Prince to someone who doesn’t know his music.
I’m not a Prince fan. Far from it. In fact, it feels wrong to discuss Prince without mentioning Clint Armitage, from high school. He thought Prince was a genius or something. I just couldn’t understand this. His songs always seemed to lack something for me. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, Clint would play me track after track and dissect each song so that I could truly appreciate the creative merits of his icon. In hindsight the episode taught me something about the power of a persona – which, I feel, was Prince’s true legacy.

What does he mean to you as a musician?
For me Prince is a great example of salesmanship through personal style – which is ironic considering his lifelong battle with record

companies. I feel that if he hadn’t been turned into such an icon so young, he might have eventually blossomed into something rich and strange.

The thing that always struck me was his voice, guitar ideas and swagger – but for my tastes these qualities were diluted by his fame and the creative toll marketing always takes. That said, I have to admire what he did with Paisley Park, promoting and acting as an independent A&R to obscure, unchampioned artists.

How has his musical repertoire influenced yours, if it has?
It hasn’t at all. Though it influenced Trent Reznor when he was recording Pretty Hate Machine.

Did you ever see him live? What was it like?
My dad owned live music clubs when I was a kid and forced me to watch many of the acts. So if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s watching live music. Though I did make an exception for [Australian band] HTRK, when they still had their bassist.

Tshepang Ramoba

(Drummer for the BLK JKS and music producer)

What is your favourite Prince album and song?
My favourite album is Purple Rain (1984); favourite songs are I Would Die 4 U and Nothing Compares 2 U.

Describe the meaning of Prince to someone who doesn’t know his music?
Maybe this will piss off Michael Jackson fans but he is the cooler, arty version of Jackson. He was a musical genius and on steroids with everything, from fashion to ideas.

What does he mean to you as a musician?
He means a lot. With all the albums I’ve done, I’ve had direct inspiration from Prince. He was timeless. His music was commercial but still cool. He commercialised cool.

How has his musical repertoire influenced yours?
There is a song on Moonchild’s album, which I made while I was listening to a Prince album, and I got an idea from that album. He has inspired me a lot as a producer. Whether it’s rock or hip-hop music, I always go back to Prince’s music.

I even have a Prince coffee table book. He has been in my life forever.
My mother loved Prince and she introduced me to his music. When we were on tour with the BLK JKS we used to meet and chill with a lot of musicians such as Erykah Badu and The Roots and we decided that in each town we perform in we’d put the names of famous musicians from that town on our guest list, just in case they come to our shows.

So when we performed in Prince’s hometown Minneapolis, we added his name to the guest list and told the people in the crowd that “Prince is coming, he is on the guest list”, just in case he showed up.

Did you ever seen him live?
No I haven’t. Unfortunately.

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Arts Desk
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