Prince on self-determination and sovereignty / "I knew I was right..."



Price is one of the masters of this music thing. (see this short bio by Ray Winbush)



Price is one of the masters of this music thing. (see this short bio by Ray Winbush)

He hasn't always been so. My dad worked with him early in his career and pops often showed us yungins his copy of Prince's first contract with Warner Bros. The document was a damn bible of text! No wonder artists don't read their contracts. But, still, he's grown into it -- and better late than never. Recently anyone watching his moves has seen that he's refused to adjust his own valuing of music to the industry's or the market's valuing of it. And because his valuing is based not just on economics, but also on a larger understanding of preserving the quality of organic art, Prince has actually been able to make his form of resistance WORK, taking it out of the theoretical-argument-zone and into the real world where it touches real people. He's sacrificed the constant lime light of pop culture for a sustainable community of listeners that support his art for art's sake. That community of believers is what enables him to make sustainable, organic music in an industry increasingly turning to artificial chord tuners, and all sorts of other digital substitutions. My brother Kadiri broke it down in an email he sent me on this, saying: "Each contested terrain... casts a vote on what 'reality' we are willing to exist in." (we still gotta deal the question of how younger artists are to replicate what Prince has done without the benefit of the "mistake" he made by being a slave but also getting world wide distribution from Warner early in his career... talk about the twoness of maroonage -- link) Matter of fact, I have to provide you guys with his entire response: "Informative interview. Tavis drops the ball on a number of occasions with his inability to ask a decent follow-up conversation and coax out more "jewels" from Prince. He comes off to me as the dude who over thought a first date, peppers her with questions drawn up the night before, and completely misses moments for deeper probing (particularly when "she" reveals something significant about herself), consumed with sequentially ordered topics to avoid silent awkward moments. One segment that caught my attention was Prince's ability to seamlessly weave the ownership battles of artistic production in the industry to the larger battle of biological/sociological ownership (i.e., ownership of one's literal biology (DNA) with the looming human genome project/and the "classic" battle of ownership over one's labor). It reinforced in my imagination the essential truth that every space is relevant to the struggle. Each contested terrain, despite how seemingly mundane and/or distant, implicates wider world ordering and casts a vote (depending on the spirit in which it was waged and the outcome of that struggle) on what 'reality' we are willing to exist in. Prince captures this convoluted thought much more succinctly: "I knew I was right... it's obvious now that artists are supposed to own their master recordings. I mean in the future, it'll be unconscionable to even think you can take somebody's creation and claim ownership of it. See unfortunately, this discussion is going to start to barrel into a discussion about the human genome and the DNA and all the rest of it. When it gets there, then we're going to be in deep water. See so, it's better to start the conversation now before we get into god talk." Originally Posted 7/22/2009 We're a human development centered cooperative, producing in part through the generous and faithful contributions of our North Star members. Choose your membership: Annual ($36), Monthly ($3), ($5), ($10), ($15), ($30), ($70), ($200), ($500), ($1000).