‘The Internet is Over’ Prince & the Music formerly found at the Internet


20TEN

This one’s for the fans friends #Prince #20TEN #DailyMirror  #O(+>

I’ve been a Prince fan sine I was 16. My musical awakening occurred at the same time as the break up of my family. Like Prince, my father was a troubled alcoholic and workaholic (or maybe that was just his father in Purple Rain). Unlike Prince, I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. Still, O(+> became The One outlet for my adolescent expression and, I guess, his music helped me deal with The Time.

I followed his music throughout the years, from the time when he opened his own Prince shop in Camden Town (and subsequently closed it), way back when, to the unpronounceable Symbol. I also re-lived his early years through the music, right back to 1978 with his first album, with its relentless funk, and even obtained bootleg cassettes. It was a full on affair. I even called 1800-NEW-FUNK and remember playing Sexy MF in my high school art class – we were allowed to choose the music– but we didn’t make it to the end of the track (the teacher intervened after the 20th MF). I own all of his albums, but stopped short of being an obsessive collector.

I’ve seen Prince live in concert 5 times. The first time was supposed to be the Blenheim Palace, but he cancelled, I forget why. The next time was the first time, at the NEC in Birmingham. The most recent time was the 02 Arena. The best concert was Las Vegas in 2006, I was part of the NPG Music Club and got front row for the sound check, standing just one metre away from the legend, starstruck, though he lost me a little when God entered the arena. I can do the no drugs, no drink thing, but my Fascination for the wee guy stops short of a view that would have me believe that Prince’s talent is not his own making, as opposed to The Work of God.

I am not sure whether his pursuit of the Internet back in the mid-1990s inspired me to get online, but it certainly seemed cool. One of the reasons I liked him was for his ability to herald the times.

I downloaded Cybersingle for Free in 2000, when he asked ‘to be free, or not to be free?’– it seemed then to be the first online musical product. It was a raw, funky tune with lyrics that, like many of his tracks, captured the period. Other web-themed tracks like ‘Emale’ and ‘Computer Blue, made Prince the Internet musician of the time and his contribution prefigured the big Race to occupy the web and own online music. As he did with AIDS back in 1987 with Sign of the Times, he was always right on the money with the web. I remember when he would scan ‘his computer looking for a site…make believe it’s a better world, a better life’. The web would transform the Slave into the Master.  So, what happened?

In 20TEN, Prince announces in The Morning Papers that ‘The Internet is Over’ and his Word becomes a trending topic in Mashable and elsewhere. Of course, those who are online are likely to reply that he is way off with this one, but I can’t just write him off. Others will struggle too. He seemed to know his stuff back in the day. He seemed to have a Crystal Ball and his ideas have led to the Emancipation of other artists. This year, Prince features in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He’s still got The Funky Stuff and was writing about the Iraq war (Musicology) at a time when it doesn’t seem fashionable to sing about social or political issues.

So, back to this Internet thing. Do I agree? I think to understand his view – which has led to him shutting down his website – you have to understand the story behind his trajectory online. Early Prince websites were technologically advanced, sporting beautiful designs and Beautiful Strange encounters.

It was apparent from his optimism that the web promised to change the industry. The promise has not been fulfilled. Things have changed, but not far enough. It is not democratized. It is owned by a few people and, most of us online, play within their zone of monetization. People are trapped into using iTunes, which has an Extraordinary influence in terms of how music is consumed.

I often think about The Future of the Internet. My daily engagement with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Google are constant reminders of how much things change online. I suspect Prince will return to the web at some point, but it will have to be a very different web, one where more independent artists are getting paid.

In some sense he is right. Web 1.0 is over, isn’t it? The web today is very different compared to when he celebrated its arrival. Our personal freedom seems in direct correlation with the rise of  I’m not sure Prince ever got on board with Web 2.0, perhaps he’s waiting for Web 3.0.

On Saturday, I will buy the Mirror in order to get his new album 20TEN. If you don’t you’ll miss out on it as it won’t go on sale anywhere else. Millions of others will do the same in various countries of the world. I didn’t find out about this by the Internet, but by the telephone – my mother gets the Mirror. So maybe old technology is about to kick new technology’s butt. Either way, it’s technology. I Gotcha.

To conclude, here are a few Prince facts you didn’t know, or may have forgotten

  • In Wasted Kisses, the sound of Prince’s baby’s heartbeat is played. The child had died at the time of the recording.
  • He wrote Manic Monday and Nothing Compares to You.
  • He plays 27 instruments, or there abouts.
  • In a Chris Rock invu around 15 years ago, when asked about why he didn’t appear in the Michael Jackson ‘Bad’ video – you know, the bit with Wesley Snipes - he replied ‘The first line of that song is ‘Your Butt is Mine’. Now what I wanna know is who’s singing that to who. Coz I sure ain’t singing that to you. And you sure ain’t singing that to me’. Some of the funniest interviews I’ve seen.
  • In the same interview, he talks about getting comedy into music, which he has always tried to do.
  • In the dispute with Warner Bros, his had a number of names, Tora Tora, The Artist, TAFKAP, and, the Symbol of course.
  • Prince Rogers Nelson is his real name.
  • When We Are the World was made, he chose not to appear with the group of singers, instead donating a song to the cause ‘4 the tears in your eyes’

Pick up some lesser known Prince tracks that rock:

  • 4 the tears in your eyes
  • 5 women
  • Beautiful Strange
  • Don’t Play Me
  • Extra Loveable
  • Extraordinary
  • If I love u 2nite
  • Moonbeam Levels
  • My Little Pill
  • Player