The first 24 hours of a world without a living, breathing, smirking Prince is just about past us. The world is shook, and will never, ever be the same again. Your legend’s favorite legend has fallen.
From here on out we’re charting tragic and unfamiliar waters. We no longer are spinning around the same sun on the same rock at the same time as The Artist that changed the landscape of music forever.
It’s a lot to digest and process, and while it may be a harsh truth, fact is, this isn’t an average death to mourn. This is mourning the death of someone that influenced culture in such a godly way that everyone kind of assumed he would be immortal. His impact was global and in turn, it’s difficult to put into words just how large his influence was. There will never be another Prince.
As those six wretched words weigh in, much like how they had to be processed during the passing of icons such as David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah and more, a new question presents itself: how does one explain all the ways an artist like Prince inspired him or her, and, in terms of using that inspiration to create something new, what is the proper way to even go about it now? When a legend passes away, there’s a necessary long silence as people pay respect while also privately wondering, “what are we going to do now?”
One underground Hip Hop artist who had an album slated to come out yesterday afternoon posted on his social media saying, “It’s hard to even promote my own music knowing that Prince just died. Like, damn B, that’s Prince right there.” The artist then went on to discuss in emotional detail his personal relationship with Prince’s music, much like every living musician has since the rumors of his untimely and unjust death became verified by news sources.
This artist in question worked on his project for the past who-knows-how-many-months, spending money out of pocket on all the necessary steps that go into an independent full length release and tactfully laying out ways to go about promoting it. The big day had finally arrived to share his debut album, but it just so happened to be same day that the very artist who was his direct introduction to music had passed away.
What do you do now? Do you go about releasing your music according to plan, even though the news is so fresh and the musical community is reacting to such an insanely huge lost? Do you put the release on hold even though in a way that feels like the opposite of what a mentoring artist like Prince would want? How long do you hold off? When will it feel acceptable to release new music? How can one go about properly and respectfully pay tribute and homage to an icon that recently died, while also still moving forward as an artist?
These are tough questions to consider and work through to an answer, for creatives that delicately and passionately care about their craft, their culture and honoring those that came before them.
There is no correct way to go about releasing music, period, but a larger picture truth is beginning to strongly reveal itself: in 2016 and beyond, as great revolutionary artists of our time pass away, others must arise and create something new, something to change society. There is room for new legends in the making. There is room to make living legends proud. There is room for new artists to step up, bridge the gap and make legendary art.
If artists today think they have big shoes to fill, it’s because they do. Culturally, we have been blessed beyond comprehension with incredible artists, both living and deceased, that have successfully, and at times unknowingly, changed the world through their art. There needs to be more of that happening, especially as our society and world at large experiences darkness.
We now live in a world without Prince, and it’s a little less bright. But, the beauty of music and being an artist is that people like Prince never really die, and his true thoughts and emotions will continue to inspire. May we honor Prince through the creation and celebration of meaningful art and breathe new life into the musical landscape he molded and humanly had to leave behind.