Prince is a shining example of creative blackness

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The day has come for us to celebrate the Purple One. Prince Rogers Nelson is as provocative as he is talented. A startlingly prolific songwriter and a virtuosic musician, Prince has written a slew of mesmerizing songs over the course of his career, both for himself and for other artists too numerous to single out.

The depths of Prince's songwriting can be heard on songs like "I Would Die 4 U," which placed his pious proclivities (he's a devout Jehovah's Witness) into a very secular setting, yet there never seemed to be any detectable compromise when he combined the two sides of his persona.

"When Doves Cry," meanwhile, is one track that will forever pack a dance floor with heartbreaking incisiveness. And everybody knows when it's time to take it to the mattresses: "Do Me, Baby" is the one that'll get you the panties every time. "Purple Rain" effectively changed the game for singers and songwriters. You can hear the influence in artists like Alicia Keys and her song "Like You'll Never See Me Again."

As a performer, Prince's sheer musicality is simply unparalleled, and his style, flavor and substance are beyond inimitable. Every time a rapper takes his shirt off and gyrates to the rhythm of ladies' screams, Prince should take a bow. His androgyny -- he was always known for wearing lace and having higher heels on his shoes -- matched his brazen sexiness and imbued his songs with an undeniable and irresistible magnetism.

On top of all that, Prince is also a trailblazing music figure who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and became known simply as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" and also famously wrote "slave" on his face in defiance of his record label. Beautiful, creative, dazzling, Prince remains a pillar in music culture, and a shining example of creative blackness.

February has traditionally been the month when the contributions from, traditions of and historical facts about African-Americans are celebrated. In honor of Black History Month, Backbeat will be celebrating iconic figures in the world of black music.



Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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