Prince sat down with Ebony to speak on his new project, people counting Tidal out and how this is Kendrick Lamar’s year… It’s a pretty long read… Very weird, but interesting read to say the least.
EBONY: Do you ever see yourself writing a memoir?
Prince: You ever heard of checking your list to see who’s naughty and who’s nice? I just let people talk. I was talking to somebody about “The Beautiful Ones.” They were speculating as to who I was singing about. But they were completely wrong.
If they look at it, it’s very obvious. “Do you want him or do you want me,” that was written for that scene in Purple Rain specifically. Where Morris [Day] would be sitting with [Apollonia], and there’d be this back and forth. And also, “The beautiful ones you always seem to lose,” Vanity had just quit the movie. To then speculate, “Well, he wrote that song about me”? Afterwards you go, “Who are you? Why do you think that you’re part of the script that way? And why would you go around saying stuff like that?”
So we just let people talk and say whatever they want to say. Nine times out of 10, trust me, what’s out there now, I wouldn’t give nary one of these folks the time of day. That’s why I don’t say anything back, because there’s so much that’s wrong.
EBONY: A lot of initial media reports wanted to count out Tidal.
Prince: With a million-plus subscribers. Spotify has 10. So if you imagine a million people in front of you? That’s a lot of people. So you gotta talk to them, and you getting ready to drop something, and all of ’em are gonna get it. What do you wanna say? How are you gonna move all of ’em? Oh, now it gets interesting. It’s always going to be the peanut gallery and that’s all right.
My thing is this. The catalog has to be protected. And some of our fans were actually disingenuous. Taking the time to get their playlists together, and yeah, it’s gone. Now you got to actually go subscribe to get the music that you lost on Spotify. Spotify wasn’t paying, so you gotta shut it down.
EBONY: I talked to people about switching from Spotify to Tidal who didn’t want to recreate their playlists all over again.
Prince: That’s the line in the sand. That is exactly what I’m talking about. When you make issue of those things, that is exactly what ownership means. It doesn’t mean that you just get pimped by somebody. And none of our kids should be subject to this.
You can’t give away Google. You can’t give away the country. Nobody can just come up and just start selling the Statue of Liberty, stuff like that. So the Prince catalog now—and again, I don’t want to sound like a megalomaniac—but I have to manage it, that’s Americana now. You gave the Beatles $400 million and then tried to squash the news? That’s why Apple held out. I had more albums than they did.
EBONY: How close is this to being…?
Prince: It’s done.
EBONY: It’s done! My man…
[Plays “2 Y.2.D.”]
Prince: They say that stuff when I ain’t around. Ain’t nobody else heard this.
[Plays “Look at Me, Look at U”]
Prince talking about Kendrick Lamar and it being his year:
This bass is wicked, you understand? That’s why none of ’em will come to the gig anymore. They’ll just stand in the back, because they know what they said. Making up all these names about people and giving credit where credit ain’t due. Kendrick [Lamar], this is his year now. I asked him to come up here just to visit. This is related: I told him, “You got the whole year. Don’t worry about it. Ain’t nobody gonna bother you.”
EBONY: What do you say to people who are more spiritual than religious?
Prince: That’s okay. Because eventually they’re gonna get more responsibility. And that’s where religion will come into it. Because you have to have some sort of glue that’s gonna keep people honorable. Even if you’re thieves. And that’s what religion is. It’s order. Just think about it like that. The word’s been muddied. We forget what it was in the beginning. Did you see Tut?
Prince: It was interesting. ’Cause that’s the way it was in the beginning. And it’s all explained out there. Remember: all of that was African. If you just look at it for its African properties, then everything’s straight. It’s all in there. Every story is based upon that story, the story of Tut and his father. They just keep retelling it in different ways. And the Bible is just the same story, that story, told different ways in several different parts in the Bible. Once you know that, then you don’t get overwhelmed by what’s in the Bible. That’s if it’s taught properly. You don’t get overwhelmed by it, and there’s nothing to fight about.
Like, this supposed to be like wings. Take you up higher. Now do your work from a higher place, get more done, cover more ground, and whoop your competitors. Comparisons with this, that and the other, we never thought of ourselves as having competition with anybody.
Miles Marshall Lewis is the Arts & Culture Editor of EBONY.com. He’s also the Harlem-based author of Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises, There’s a Riot Goin’ On and Irrésistible. Follow MML on Twitter and Instagram at @furthermucker, and visit his personal blog, Furthermucker.