Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Rasberry Berets of The Revolution

The word genius shouldn't be tossed about as easily as it often is.
 It should come with a burden of proof.
I spent a week listening to nothing but Prince after I heard the news of his passing and I am convinced more than ever that Prince Rogers Nelson was a musical genius .
He produced, composed, band led, sang, danced,could play virtually any instrument, was insanely prolific and his guitar solos were incomparable . For starters.
It's taken a while to process his death and the truth is I don't think any one person is going to be able to unpack and measure the significance of The Purple One in his short but consequential time here.
This wasn't just the passing of a celebrity or a talented popular musician.
Prince was more than that.
If you grew up during Prince's ascendancy you saw someone who played with gender expression the way he played guitar. You heard music that, like Jazz, could only have been born from a black musician refusing to be dictated to, that wrote its own rules, that was emancipation in aural form.
If you paid attention to his argument with his record label, you saw a corporation claim it owned his given birth name-Prince -and you watched him expertly slip free by changing his name to a symbol and every music journalist suddenly needed a special font to write about him. He carved out cultural space to be free for a great many who had little to no space to exist freely and openly as themselves.
He was all that.
And a musical genius.
" I want freedom, the right to self expression , everyone's right to radiant beautiful things" wrote Emma Goldman in her autobiography discussing a moment where some fool had the temerity to tell her it was unbecoming for her or any revolutionary to be seen dancing.
Emma wasn't having that.
Emma would dance.
Emma would understand why Prince's band was called The Revolution .
Prince was anarchism expressed as art.
Self expression. Self determination. Self actualization.
Fuck you to corporate control and heteronormative gender expression.
Advancement of women artists. Unapologetically Black and beautiful and oneself.
A genius that refused to be contained or constrained.
He didn't need to fly a red and black flag.
He was Purple Rain.
A royal colour falling from the skies anointing us all as deserving of radiant beautiful things.
Onward comrades in our Rasberry Berets.
We are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life.