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Friday, September 25, 2009

Part 2: Where Do You Stand? Prince is Free & Still On Top

Music Successes:
Prince has sold over 80 million records worldwide.

1979 - Prince - 1.25 Million
1980 - Dirty Mind - 1 Million
1981 - Controversy - 1 million
1982 - 1999 - 6 million
1984 - Purple Rain - 22 million
1985 - Around the World in a Day - 3 million
1986 - Parade - 2 million
1987 - Sign O the Times - 8 million
1988 - Lovesexy - 2 million
1989 - Batman - 2 million
1990 - Grafitti Bridge - 1.5 million
1991 - Diamonds & Pearls - 9 million
1992 - Love Symbol - 3 million
1993 - The Hits/B-Sides - 1.5 million
1994 - Come - 1 million
1995 - The Gold Experience - 1.5 million
1996 - Emancipation - 3 million
1999 - Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic - 1 million
2001 - The Very Best of Prince - 2.5 million
2004 - Musicology - 4 million
2006 - 3121 - 2 million
2007 - Planet Earth - 2.8 million
2009 - Lotusflow3r - 1 million

( reports these sales only reflect US, UK and Canada...this is just a fraction of his success.)

Why Do Platinum Artists Flee Underground?

Prince Rogers Nelson removed himself from the bonds of "slavery" held by his record label and went underground to successfully continue his multi-platinum career as an independent artist. Freeing himself of record labels and distribution companies, he used the of power giving away his music, the internet and his specially crafted talent to stay on top of the game.

Here is the answer in his words...

"One thing I'd like to say is that I don't live in a prison. I am not afraid of anything. I haven't built any walls around myself, and I am just like anyone else. I need love and water, and I'm not afraid of a backlash because, like I say, there are people who will support my habits as I have supported theirs. I don't really consider myself a superstar. " 1985 MTV interview
In a May 1997 interview with Spike Lee
"I really felt like a product, and then I started turning in work that reflected
that. I had no problem with people saying I was repeating myself. I knew where I was headed and just needed direction."

While under contract with Warner Brothers, in 1993 he changed his name and released the following statement

"The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros... I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name. "

Interview on Today show March 2004

Here is what he said in the most recent interview with Tavis Smiley April 28, 2009:

Prince: I like criticism. I like constructive criticism from smart people...When people criticize my work and attach my personality, it doesn't help me. I can't do anything with it. I don't know what they want. I asked writers this before and a lot of times they tell me they are just writing for each other. They are not really writing for...'Oh, I really got him that time.' I don't know nobody learns from it really.

Tavis: Who have you felt most often like in the ring fighting the record industry, like Jack [Johnson] or the opponent?

Prince: Oh, like Jack.

Tavis: Like Jack?

Prince: Yeah.

Tavis: Tell me why?

Prince: Well, because I knew I was right, you know. We talked about this in our very first interview, our first conversation together. It's obvious now those artists are suppose to own their master recordings. I mean in the future it will be unconsciousable to even think you can take somebody else’s creation and claim ownership to it.

[On the song “Dreamer”] “Oh well, when I saw the 'State of the Black Union,' Dick Gregory really moved me and a lot of my friends. I show it to everybody who comes over the house, especially white folks, because they need to hear that, you know, so that they know more about all of us. Because what he said affects all of us. He said something that really hit home about this phenomena of chemtrails and when I was a kid, I used to see these trails in the sky all the time and I’d say, “Oh, that’s cool – a jet just went over.” And then you started to see a whole bunch of them and the next you know, everybody in your neighborhood was fighting and arguing and you didn’t know why, okay? And you really didn’t know why. I mean, everybody was fighting. So he started riffing about the chemtrails and he started to say things that hit home so hard, and I would recommend that everybody try to get what he said online or wherever, and try to get a copy of it and just listen to it, because I was so moved that I had to write the song. The other thing is the first line of the song says I was born on the same plantation in the United States of the red, white and blue, and we live in a place now that feels just about like a plantation. We’re all indentured servants. When I found out there were eight presidents before George Washington, I wanted to smack somebody. I wanted to know why I was taught otherwise. Just tell me the whole story – I’ll fill in the blanks. But don’t tell me something that you think I’m supposed to know.”

Tavis: “We’re indentured servants and we’ve got a Black president now?”

Prince:” Well, I don’t vote. I don’t have nothing to do with it. I got no dog in that race.”

Tavis: And for those who would cuss me out and slap me in person if I didn’t ask you why didn’t ask you ‘Why?’”

Prince: First the reasons why is I’m Jehovah’s Witness, and for one, we’ve never voted. That’s not to say that I don’t think Barack Obama, President Obama is a very smart individual. He seems like he means well. Prophecy is what we all have to go by now. It’s very interesting I did a sold out concert in London. We played for twenty one nights in a row. All the concerts were sold out. When I would watch television over there and you’d see the United Nations feed, the direct feed from the United Nations, you’d hear them talk a lot about religion. You’d hear the bible mentioned constantly. This is not what we are use to in the United States. It’s almost as though there is no need for God. No need for religion and justice in politics. So there is supposed to be a separation of church and state over here. We can’t have a separation of state and morality, though.

On "Feel Better. Feel Good. Feel Wonderful"

It's about telling people to celebrate and stop hating. There are references in the song, though, to a record executive who we've had some pretty interesting conversations were we make reference to doing me like my brother Steve. What we believe happens is that you can put out a record Sound Scan refuses to count as many as they actually sell. But you get paid on what Sound Scan says you've actually sold. So if it's a low number then you only get paid on that number. Meanwhile when you go overseas and you check some of the titles and bar codes over there, they've already ripped you off several different times and several different ways. Also with the influx of the internet, with no sales, then you've really got your bank account emptied out. So we never really knew what Purple Rain sold. I don't know to this day. I only know what they tell me.

Prince challenged the music industry for control over his music and demanded payment for his royalties. To do this he sued for his freedrom from the music industry. Arguing that artists should control the rights to their music and make money doing so, he has shown no loss in popularity. Instead his music has became further enriched, by not being infiltrated with the very pop-culture that threatened to take his voice away, remix and remake it into something unrecognizable. His music has remained true to his limitless expressions of himself and the world around him as he renders it. He has shown that once an artists is free you can never lock down their soul.

So I must ask, where do you stand? As ARapperNamedBilal ask, "Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?"

It's just Mia and you will never guess who is next...


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