Prince was MAGIC ya’ll. Here… let me tell you why.
On April 21, 2016, the world lost Prince Rogers Nelson. The news was so shocking we at first refused to accept it. Most of us were stunned for much of the day. Prince was supposed to be immortal–a force that simply willed itself to exist, an element in the building block of our cultural memory. Something as everyday as death seemed almost too ..banal…for him.
By the time we accepted the truth, eulogies were pouring in alongside our grief. Even President Obama took time from an overseas trip to say a few words. He called Prince’s death the loss of a “creative icon…one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time.” But Prince was more than that. He was Magic. And I got proof.
Prince was MAGIC. He could bend and manipulate space and time as much as he could cross streams of music, as well as he could bridge the sacred and the profane, as fluidly as gender. So in 1982 he time-traveled in a dream, came back and told us what 1999 would be like:
And if the end of the millennium didn’t come to pass with purple skies, destruction and “people runnin’ everywhere,” we can only assume time-traveling Prince put a stop to it and saved us all. Obviously.
In 1989 Prince sprinkled some Magic and made Batman and the Joker cool again. We do remember how cornball Batman was on our TV before Prince threw his mojo up on it right? RIGHT? Say “Thank You” Prince.
That wasn’t the last time Prince’s MAGIC graced the comic book world–not even close. In 1991 and again in 1994 Piranha Music and D.C. Comics released several standalone issues of a Prince comic book, with writing by none other than the great late Dwayne McDuffie. The first, entitled Prince: Alter Ego, featured art by Denys Cowan and was what writer Patrick Reed at Depth of Field Magazine calls “a spiritual sequel to Purple Rain, but with metaphysical insanity in place of showstopping musical numbers.”
Reed further writes of the comic:
Peep that righteous bad-ass cover by Brian Bollard:
The folks over at i09 did some scans of the comic back in the day. Here are a few:
In 1994 a second comic was made. This was titled Prince And The New Power Generation: Three Chains Of Gold. It was adapted from a film of the same name, produced and directed by Prince–of course. The story told of an Egypto-Near-Eastern Princess (named Mayte, and played by his real-life future wife Mayte Garcia) whose father is killed by seven mysterious assassins. Realizing their real goal was to steal the sacred “Three Chains of Gold,” Mayte seeks out Prince as her personal Obi-Wan: the only person who can protect her and the chains from falling into the hands of evil. The film was a follow-up to the Love Symbol album, wherein Prince transformed himself into the ankh-tified, , Afrofuturist –reminding us he was a “Sexy MF” and spinning out his fantasy worlds through “7.”
In the comic version to the story, Dwayne McDuffie returned as a writer with David Williams and Deryl Skelton handling the penciling.
Patrick Reed once again provides the breakdown:
Magic enough for you? I mean, take a look at that cover!
I know you’re thinking, Prince couldn’t possibly have ended up in another comic could he? And you’d be wrong. Not content with remaining just in DC, Prince crossed universes and strolled up in Marvel–in the middle of a super hero Civil War and the marriage of the century: Black Panther and Ororo Munroe (Storm). While everyone is trying to hold the ceasefire in Wakanda, Prince slips in to play the reception at the request of T’Challa. Don’t believe it? Well here you go:
But eventually, he came back. Because he knew this world needed him.
There have been questions on Prince’s ethnic make-up, with some calling him “biracial” or “multiracial.” In Purple Rain, his mother was played by a white woman. And early in his career, he told curious reporters he had a white mother and other times a half-Italian father. But, nope. In reality, Prince had two pretty regular ass black parents, with regular ass black names–John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw. Both were musicians who passed on their appreciation for black culture onto their son. People have thus asked, why would Prince carry on this charade early in his career? Because he’s mfkin’ Prince, that’s why! Who know his mind? One reason may simply be that even his MAGIC couldn’t shield him from white supremacy, and he was as color struck as many were in the early 1980s. Then again, that answer seems all too easy. After all, why tell different stories that not only contradict but could be easily debunked with the slightest bit of research. Perhaps Prince was simply taking on his common role as the perpetual trickster: like Loki or Papa Legba or Sieh. Perhaps he liked playing with peoples’ own invasive curiosities on his non-existent racial ambiguity, and delighted when they ate it up.
There was also the context within which he existed. Much of the popular music world of the early 1980s was a closed and walled-off white space, rejecting black music no matter how diverse. MTV notoriously had a blackout on black music until threatened by CBS Records to play Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video in 1983 or face a boycott by CBS artists. Can you even conceive that? You gotta threaten someone to play Michael Jackson?! Prominent artists like David Bowie and Rick James also took MTV to task and they eventually relented. Prince’s “perceived” ambiguity, which he helped foster, allowed him to break into the often closed off white music world. And he craftily passed his way, like so many black artists (past and present–from Vin Diesel to Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) have been forced to do, into stardom. Right, wrong or otherwise, it can’t divorced from the realities he lived.
But whatever he told the reporters–for tricks, kicks, or real gain–he remained dedicated to his blackness and black causes. He privately gave to numerous charities and individuals, ranging from a historic black library to the YesWeCode initiative for youth of color to the parents of Trayvon Martin. When In Style magazine wanted to a write up on him, he forced them to hire a black woman, the late writer Erica Kennedy, to do the interview. If you can handle watching his friend Van Jones break down on live TV, see more of that unselfish MAGIC here. He warned artists that the music industry was like slavery and chided an entertainment system that had one standard for blacks, and another for whites. “Didn’t you know that black people don’t get a second chance?” he told interviewers at Mojo Music. “It’s like Chris Rock said: Leonardo DiCaprio can make one bad movie after another, and he just keeps going. Chris Rock makes a bad movie, and he doesn’t work again. Black people aren’t allowed to make mistakes.” He remained grounded in what was happening in the black community he came up in, and in May 2015 released the song Baltimore to honor Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.
Even his X-Files, Mulder type conspiracies were BLACK, claiming that chemtrails and malt liquor was a project designed to wreak havoc in poor African-American communities. That right there is packed Barbershop on a Saturday morning black scripture. You don’t get no blacker than that:
Did you know Prince naturally attracted Muppets and other cloth-based entities? Know why? MAGIC.
One of Prince’s greatest MAGIC powers, was the arcane mystical black power of throwing SHADE…which he cast with reckless abandon, upon friends and foes alike:
Prince had so much MAGIC that when he played Superbowl XLI during a windy downpour he didn’t blink an eye. The production designer called him that morning, worried the storm might cancel the event.
“Do you know it’s raining?” he asked.
“Yes it’s raining,” Prince replied.
“Are you okay?” the production designer asked.
“Can you make it rain harder?” Prince asked.
Then Prince went out there with his MAGIC and showed the world what “Purple Rain” was all about:
The day the world found out Prince was gone, the MAGIC he left behind produced a series of odd phenomena.
Niagara Falls turned purple… some claimed it was pre-planned for the English Queen’s 90th birthday, but we know better.
NASA says it tweeted out a purple nebula in honor of Prince. But was it *really* purple before Prince went away NASA? Was it?
And in Brooklyn, this happened. Coincidence? I don’t think so. MAGIC!
And then of course there was this:
I know there’ll be naysayers, but I’m just going to go ahead and believe my own eyes–and say that Prince was MAGIC. We didn’t just lose an icon, a musician, an artist, and a performer, the world lost a bit of its magic. I’m consoled however by a twitter user, who also realized Prince was MAGIC and that perhaps even though he’s gone, he lives on forever:
Goodbye Prince Rogers Nelson We’ll miss your MAGIC.