His songs are iconic, but Prince wasn’t just a talented musician, he was a man who believed in justice, equality and goodness and lived according to those values
It’s pretty much universally accepted that Prince was an insanely talented, unparalleled, and legendary musician, but it’s not only his musical genius that the world will miss. On the 21st of April, we lost an activist and compassionate individual — a truly good person.
Prince’s politically conscious ‘Sign O’ The Times’, a single released in 1987, drew attention to various socio-political problems including AIDS, gang violence, natural disasters, poverty, and drug abuse. The track contains thought-provoking lyrics including: ‘A sister killed her baby ’cause she couldn’t afford to feed it and yet we’re sending people to the moon’, and ‘in September, my cousin tried reefer for the very first time, now he’s doing horse — it’s June’. The track is one example of the many ways Prince, through his music, confronted society’s failings and gave a voice to those who suffered as a result.
Famous for his flamboyant, eccentric fashion sense, Prince broke every rule about what a man — and a black man at that — ought to be. Gender binaries were meaningless concepts to Prince; he was unapologetically himself, and nothing else, and taught generations of young men and women that the only person you need to look like, act like, or be, was yourself. The legacy and example Prince has left for countless queer, homosexual, and simply different people is invaluable. He championed women and gender equality, hiring female musicians and writing lyrics empowering females rather than objectifying them, respecting women in music in a way that is rarely seen even today.
The music video for ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ features women of all ages, sizes, and nationalities, and depicts the different things women can achieve; childbirth, acclaim, becoming leaders, and more. The song itself is dedicated to one woman only, but the video speaks to women all the world over. It says that all women are beautiful, not just in the physical sense, but in the sense that they all possess a beautiful, female power: ‘this kind of beauty is the kind that comes from inside’, he sings.
Prince was a dedicated vegan, and his song ‘Animal Kingdom’, which he donated to animal rights organisation PETA, refers to this:
‘No member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity
No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me
It’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish
Don’t give me no blue cheese
We’re all members of the animal kingdom
Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea’
A passionate advocate of animal rights, he also included in the liner notes of his 1999 album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic a description of the suffering endured by lambs and sheep bred for wool. In regards to his veganism and fight for animal rights, Prince is quoted as saying: ‘Compassion is an action word with no boundaries’.
Prince was like no other; outspoken, shocking, brave, and benevolent — someone who not only gave the world his musical genius and many talents, but also his honesty, his empowerment, his compassion; in short, his goodness.