Illustrations by Joshua Dunn
Top 10 Tuesdays! Seriously, we might kick off Top 10 Tuesdays around here pretty soon. But for today our Top 10 comes courtesy of our brothers-in-crates over at Wax Poetics, who picked (<–no afro intended) Questlove‘s brain for a top THIRTY THREE, specifically, the “Top 33 REASONS Why Prince Is Hip-Hop.” In support of all things related to Prince, Questlove, wax, poetics and hip-hop, Okayplayer is proud to present reasons #33-24. Read on and then follow the thread over to Wax P for the full 33 (and 1/2?–if we know those dudes, there’s a hidden groove in there somewhere).
October 1991 marked the year of a new Prince. I could tell that something was on his mind (perhaps money?). It was his thirteenth professional year, and something had to give. Clearly he was irked by longtime fans already giving his 1978–’88 tenure a past-tense reference (known as “the genius period,” similar to pre–Woman in Red Stevie’s 1971–’76 era, but Prince fared a lil better). Although a commercial success, his 1989 Batman soundtrack felt unthawed. (And let’s face it: anything with that Batlogo was getting copped back in the late ’80s, so it was a no-brainer. You could turn in just about anything and it would sell as long as that golden logo was attached to your product.) His next album was a heartbreaking failure of a sequel to the very breakthrough that probably is responsible for this tribute issue you now hold in your hands. Graffiti Bridge, released in 1990, did the exact opposite of what Purple Rain was to do for his career (and it’s noted that all of the soundtrack highlights were indeed written or recorded…during the—ahem—“genius period.”) However, on Prince and the New Power Generation’s Diamonds and Pearls, his first “proper” album since 1988’s puzzling Lovesexy and his first project not to reach the top ten since 1981’s Controversy, Prince seemed to embrace “rap” (not hip-hop, but “rap”) almost with the believability of Republican politicians that visit the inner-city slums to kiss babies and shake hands. The puzzling thing about it all is that Prince was more “hip-hop” than he ever was once he gave in to “rap” music.
Dare I say he was a hip-hop pioneer? Yes. That Prince. Without even trying, he did things that those in the hip-hop generation wouldn’t even think to do some years later in their careers. So in celebration of Prince reaching Jesus status (thirty-three years in the game), I’d like to argue thirty-three reasons why sucker MCs should call him sire.
33. “2 Live, 2 Live is what we are.”
In 1988, Prince poses stark naked on his tenth album cover, Lovesexy.