'Prince Forever' Was The Mantra As Fans Gathered To Pay Tribute To A Legend In Brooklyn [Photos + Recap]
No doubt yesterday the world stopped when word that Prince Rogers Nelson had left us flooded the airwaves. Traffic came to a halt, people were glued to their devices and emotions were visible from sea to shining sea. Our funkadelic savant of satiating music goodness is gone, and rule-breakers worldwide paid their respects to the icon and iconoclast in some wild + fantastic ways.
It's no secret what Prince meant to us here at Okayplayer. His career-defining victories over record companies and internet pirates endeared him to artists looking to control their own freedom of expression. Meanwhile, his challenging and unpredictable nature helped to embolden the message of #BlackLivesMatter before it became chic and popular. At 5'3", Prince was a heavyweight musical prodigy who set the world ablaze with his ingenious riffs, sensuous melodies and virtuoso performances.
Last night, we rode his final adventure in this life by taking to the streets, painting our blocks (and bodies) purple and raved unto the joy fantastic. Throughout the world, people stood up and took notice of the Minneapolis maven's life + legacy. From Leimert Park in Los Angeles to S. Elliot Place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn — men, women and children all came out to pay tribute to the man who would not be boxed in. The cast of the Pulitzer Prize winning Hamilton and The Color Purple honored his life in song, while stars like Stevie Wonder, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith and Van Jones all had their own moments to reflect on.
The streets in front of Spike Lee's 40 Acres & A Mule production offices in Fort Greene saw a spontaneous block party form as Brooklyn came out for Prince in a way not seen since Barack Obama's election night. Both revelers there and others who craved a more conventional dancefloor on which to achieve catharsis converged on Questlove's Bowl Train Thursday night residency, which was understood as the ground zero of Prince tribute parties, presided over by the drummer and DJ who has painstakingly studied Prince's catalogue--and collected Prince's old drum machines--perhaps the only Prince tribute DJ among thousands who assembled playlists and DJ sets, to have taught a master class on the music of Prince at a major university (NYU).
The house was packed to overflowing because when you lose someone close, you need to be around family. And surely all Brooklyn-if not the world of music--was made family last night by our mutual loss. But a night that began with crowding and heavy conversations quickly gave way to sweating away the pain in a joyful celebration of Prince's music. Questlove played the set of his life, the DJ set he surely never thought he'd have to--and yet in many ways was bron and trained to play. And yes, he did screen Finding Nemo in Prince's honor, in between video and live TV highlights of the Purple One, The Time and related acts.
This one-man-band, full of force, bravado and black excellence may no longer be here in the physical. But, as you'll see in the photos above, his energy is everlasting and will forever keep us in Shockadelica. He changed our lives for the better with his presence. He personally opened up my ears + eyes to sounds that I wanted to hear. He was possibility, artistry and a fantastical creation that was magical, wondrous, sexy and absurd. His ideas were more than just songs and albums—they were waves that got inside our blood and changed how we lived. Perhaps the ultimate irony--or poetic justice--of Prince's genius is that the man who struggled so much to find a family that he named his band The Family--brought us all together with his parting.
Feel free to share your own stories + recollections about the Purple One with us on Twitter @Okayplayer!