The Roots drummer Ahmir Khalib Thompson, otherwise known as ?uestlove, recently wrote a heartfelt essay for Rolling Stone about what Prince meant to him and made some observations about Prince the man, not just Prince the artist.


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The op-ed, titled “In This Life, You’re On Your Own,” started with tales of Questlove’s first introduction to Prince’s music and the effect it had on him.

“Prince was in my ears and he was in my head,” he wrote. “Starting then, I patterned everything in my life after Prince. I had older half-brothers, but Prince — unknown to me then, but not unseen or unheard, thanks to magazines, TV, radio, and my secret stash — was a guide to me in every way.”

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Questlove has since gone on to be a successful musician, DJ and music tastemaker in his own right. His passion for and expansive knowledge of music he credits to His Royal Badness.

“I had a simple rule: if Prince listened to it, I listened to it.”

In the essay, he also talks about Prince’s innovative outlook on music and how he went against the grain by straying from the typical formula of what was working in music at the time, inspired by James Brown.

Prince’s relationship with Hip Hop has always been conflicted by his disdain for swear words, but Questlove insists he oozed Hip Hop in the way he carried himself.

“Prince was an outlaw. When he was giving interviews on the regular to Cynthia Horner in Right On! magazine, he was telling tall tales left and right. That was Hip Hop. He built a crew, a posse, around his look and his sense of style. That was Hip Hop. He had beef (with Rick James).”

Ahmir talks about the moment Prince became mainstream and his feelings about having to share Prince’s music with the world. He also reminisces on his personal experiences with The Purple One, like having to put $20 in the swear jar when Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness.

The skilled drummer insists Prince had “a level of mistrust when it came to letting the outside world in” and credits that to the loss of Prince’s mother: “Sometimes I think that the thing that Prince shared with other geniuses — Ray Charles, Bessie Smith, and James Brown — is that they were abandoned, at some level, by their mothers.”

Rest in paradise Prince. You will be missed.

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