Anthony-Carter.com An expert in getting back up again – writer, speaker, teacher

Download free eBooks by author Anthony Carter
29Jun/160

Oh My God! He’s Wearing a G-String?! Introducing My Parents to Prince

At the beginning of the eighties, a new force of nature entered my home at a party for my dad, his friends and his soon to be second wife.

Prince Rogers Nelson was in my home dancing in thigh high boots, an open and freely flapping trench coat and yes, horror of horrors, a g-string.

My parents and their libertine friends were horrified.

Was this a man? A transvestite? Was he black? Mixed? On drugs?

God forbid was this creature (lean in for the whisper) gay?

All I knew was that he seemed to be enjoying himself: he let other people wrestle with labeling him and he upset my parents.

As a 13 year old, I was hooked.

I rarely saw my parents get riled up about anything.

Prince got them riled up.

Prince gave me a new definition of black male artistry and masculinity.

If a black man could be this flamboyant and talented then anything was possible.

As a young black kid struggling with identity,oppression and ongoing homophobic assaults, seeing a black male take up space and offer the world the "finger" was needed and welcomed.

Prince let me know that it was ok to be talented and different.

I would need this assurance.

Just around the corner was disease and stigma that would wipe out difference, creativity, passion and talent.

Prince let the world know that through a great hook any subject could be spoken of and to: sex, nuclear war, AIDS, love, obsession, joy.

It is not often that someone this gifted is granted the opportunity to influence the world and pop culture for thirty years.

I can vividly recall where I was and what I was going through when I listen to his catalogue.

Dirty Mind- an eight grader curious and frightened by the world and determined to seek it out anyway.

Purple Rain- I remember my best friend singing "Darling Nikki" during one of our Summer outings and I thought "wow". "Somebody is talking about masturbation on a record ?"

I also remember running to my record player and turning it down when he got to that line.

Purple Rain, the movie, caused major pandemonium when it was released.

Many of my friends bragged about having seen it 10,15 and in some truly bizarre cases, 25 times.

My parents constantly griped about why we needed to see the movie so many times and play his records repeatedly.

That is until they heard a couple of B-sides, namely "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore" and "She's Always in My Hair".

Once they got a load of those ditties, they quit asking why we were so unremittingly under his spell.

In my obsessiveness, nothing the purple one did seemed wrong or a misstep.

What I believed scared and enthralled so many people(regarding his genius) was the ability to not "give a fuck".

Black male musicians were limited to certain forms of expression.

R&B male singers were expected to be smooth, calm, sexy and not too intimidating.

They were expected to be boring and in most cases, predictable.

As an artist who wrote, produced and recorded his own music, Prince provided no predictability.

Having mastered some 40+ instruments, Prince could easily genre hop in ways that no artist has done before or since.

Whether jamming with Chaka Khan until the wee hours of the morning; performing with Miles Davis and Q-Tip from Tribe Called Quest or simply sitting on a stool with a guitar playing an acoustic medley of his and other artists' hits, here was a man that owned his life and determined what it would look like.

As a black male living in this country, musically roaming was another large "no-no" that he ripped through with abandon.

Whether discussing drug addiction, government apathy or violence among our inner city youth, Prince shared with us where we were heading if we didn't make changes.

I urge all artists to step up and be 1/10 the artist he was.

Can you imagine a conversation between Prince and James Baldwin?

While he wasn't for my parents generation, he maintained a relevance and level of productivity that younger generations should wisely adopt.

My parents generation were a group of folks overly concerned with what people thought and most importantly what they said.

My parents were always frightened of any person who brought too much attention to themselves.

Prince teased us with world straddling and caused the older generations much grief.

In my eyes, he was a hero.

Black men were not allowed to rock high heels, be uber talented and not give a shit about what people thought or said about them.

We need black males secure in their manhood who give themselves over to their gifts then self create a sustaining vision of themselves and also rock high heels.

Where are artists and men like Prince Rogers Nelson?

Where are the gutsy, ballsy not giving a fuck artists?

If I see one more nitwit talking about being an artist and then crank out the same shit as everybody else, I will lose it.

As a young closeted queen, I had no black male role models who were as fearless as the Purple One.

I've known black males who either got crushed by White Supremacy (my grandfather) or never got a handle on their genius(my uncle) which means he never fully realized it.

Prince became a symbol of black male genius in its glory- unapologetic, relentless and unrestrained.

Thank god I was introduced to this wonderful bellwether.

I would have never survived high school without his talent and music.

I want the genius with me and I want to believe that this human was more Christ like than any of us will ever know.

When he started rocking the brutally honest and historically troubling word SLAVE across his cheek, I was not yet committed to a life of creativity and the mind.

My naivete allowed me to think that since he was rich and famous and putting out his own music that there weren't people attempting to control him.

As I began producing work and releasing it to the world, his insistence on being free made sense.

Since we now live in a world that encourages us to not take a stand about anything, a man who stood for something was a welcome and invigorating entity.

Filed under: gay writing No Comments
20Jun/160

7 Reasons Prince will Always Rock and Rule

In the two months since his death, Prince has become more popular than ever. I have loved and admired this man and his talent for 30 years.

While people worldwide mourn his passing and scramble to find a suitable replacement(impossible), my focus is on honoring the legacy of his music and the bravery and courage he possessed.

In a world that requires your soul in exchange for any bit of recognition or attention, Prince showed us how to get and maintain attention based solely on talent and a dedication to craft.

No artist could combine sexuality, redemption, social commentary and religion like this man.

Here are seven reasons Prince will always Rock and Rule.

1. In "Controversy", he forces us to play with identity and the fluidity of how one can change, straddle worlds and do it with no self-consciousness and to a good beat. Am I black or white; am I straight or gay? Do I believe in God, do I believe in me? Some people want to die so they can be free; People call me rude; I wish we all were nude; I wish there were no black and white; I wish there were no rules.

2. "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" is an eighties plea to eliminate Nuclear weapons before we destroy the planet and one another. Ronnie, Talk to Russia- Don't you blow up my world.

3. Purple Rain- the movie, song and album confronts us with an artist struggling with both self actualization and offering a paramour care with the lyrics- I never wanted to see you cry; I only want to see you dancing in the Purple Rain.

4. On the brilliant and way ahead of its time, Around the World in a Day, Prince serves us Middle Eastern influences while urging us in the title track : Open your heart, open your mind a train is leaving all day. A wonderful trip through our time and laughter is all you pay. The entire album is wonderful romp through, sex, forgiveness, redemption and social uplift. "Pop Life" quickly and disturbingly reminds us that "everybody wants a thrill ". In "America", he states: Little sister making minimum wage living in a one-room jungle-monkey cage. Can't get over; she's almost dead. She may not be in the black but she's happy she ain't in the red.

5. "Parade" returned Prince to our movie theaters with two very different and equally sensual songs. "Kiss" brought us funk and longing with a determination to give in to a full relationship complete with surrender and a nod to building relationships beyond superficiality- "you don't have to be rich to rule my world you don't have to be cool to be my girl." "Sometimes it Snows in April" (my personal favorite) is so haunting that it breaks my heart no matter how many times I hear it. A simple arrangement with absolutely stunning vocals, this track reminds us that things in life don't always go our way and the mystery and joy of life is found in places that leave us raw, vulnerable and transformed.

6. "Sign of the Times" is his absolute best. Perfection. Each track on this double slice of heaven was pure magic. Did I mention that like Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" was a double album. There is no way you can listen to this double disc and not hear the prophetic call that would be the 80's and beyond. Released in 1987 with an accompanying concert video, it begins with the title track- In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name. As if this was not enough in the same song he points out that our government can send people to the moon but we can't figure out how to have enough for everyone to eat. He adds a wink to lust and the chance at monogamy when he tells a paramour in "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man"- that he may be qualified for a one night affair but he could never take the place of her man. What about his usual blend of sensuality, sexuality and religion- "Adore": If God struck me blind your beauty I'd still see.

7. "He believed young people could change the world." This statement was given by Van Jones the co-founder of the YesWeCode initiative (an organization dedicated to ensuring that 100,000 low income youth learn to write code). Prince began supporting this initiative in an effort to create a generation of self sufficient youth ready to lead and create in the 21st century.

Tagged as: No Comments
   
 

Switch to our mobile site