Questlove mourned Prince on social media following his passing last week, but today, he decided to eulogize the late singer in a much deeper way. He penned a touching tribute to Prince in an essay published by Rolling Stone today. In the piece, he goes in-depth about the way in which Prince’s music influenced him, starting from when he was a child. He starts off by noting that he purchased the singer’s 1999 album four times, as his parents kept taking it from him, convinced it was too sexual.
He also touched on the singer’s conflicted relationship with hip-hop artists.
Prince’s relationship to hip-hop has been the subject of much scrutiny, and more than a little mockery. It’s commonplace to say that he couldn’t figure out rap music, and to point to the sometimes stilted appearances of rappers on his records in the early Nineties. But at heart, he was more hip-hop than anyone.
Think of 1999 again — or rather 1982. It was such a banner year for the use of drum machines, from Arthur Baker to Afrika Bambaataa. Prince’s programming work on 1999 was beyond anything I had ever heard, just as innovative as the best hip-hop producers in the years to come: the Bomb Squad, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla.
After that, he goes on to talk about meeting Prince, the influence of Purple Rain, and why he thinks the Minnesota native is such a special person in the music world. You can check out the full essay here.