Earlier today, Minneapolis law enforcement officials confirmed what many Prince fans feared: the artist died of an accidental overdose of opioid painkillers. As the New York Times reports, Prince struggled to cope with severe hip pain for years.
In the weeks since his passing, rumors of a drug problem swirled through the media, surprising some, and angering many who felt any speculation about the sudden and gut-wrenching demise of Prince Rogers Nelson was disrespectful to his immense talent and legacy. Here at EBONY, writer Michael Gonzales summoned Prince’s Purple Army when he wrote a definitive rebuttal to those who dared come for Prince. In short: don’t even try it.
“For true (Purple Army) fans, nothing will destroy his legacy as a musician, artist advocate and a man,” soulhead.com owner Ron Worthy told Gonzales. “Prince is important because he stretched boundaries and his influence will only grow more over time.”
Prince contributed more to our world in his brief 57 years than most people have attempted in their lifetime. A multi-instrumentalist who recorded enough songs to take us into the next century, Prince released more than three dozen albums, sold more than 100 million records, and never stopped encouraging and supporting new talent. But most of all, Prince never stopped innovating. For him, creativity reigned supreme. Questlove of the Roots, called Prince “his own genre,” and it showed in his ability to mix and meld his sound to keep up with the times.
But Prince was more than just music. A free spirit who refused to be played, or enslaved by a record company, Prince was also a conscious citizen who proclaimed that Black lives mattered on one of the world’s biggest stages, while quietly supporting the movement and donating money to the cause. Infamously private, Prince choose when to speak up for his people when it mattered, and show up when it counted most.
As Mark Anthony Neal wrote: “Prince was that shining example of a Black person who had won his freedom on a number of levels. In the early 19th century, the groundbreaking musician might have been referred to as a ‘free man of color.’ Today, we can remember him as the race man in purple.”
Though it’s impossible to distil Prince’s life and impact into one–or even a thousands–articles, remember this: Prince was was a spiritual experience in musical form, and no matter how his life ended, his legacy will remain–unvarnished–forever.
Britni Danielle is a Los Angeles based writer and editor. Catch her tweeting @BritniDWrites.